Smart business leaders understand that setting goals is a critical first step in growing their businesses in the right direction. But what that direction is, and how to get there...well, that’s the tricky part.
If you struggle with goal setting, you’re not alone. A recent study of 300 small business owners conducted by Staples revealed that 80% do not keep track of their business goals, and 77% have yet to achieve their vision for their company. Those are pretty grim stats.
What makes goal setting so hard? For starters, establishing business goals requires you to look deeply into what makes your business tick, and what you want its future to be. That’s a time consuming process, and not a lot of business owners have an abundance of time on their hands. Goal setting is also not immediately profitable. You need to have patience and trust, and remain committed to the process. Patience is not always the business leader’s greatest virtue.
It’s not easy, but it is essential. Here are my top 3 suggestions for setting (and achieving) business goals.
- Start with the long-term goals.
Long-term goals have a timeline of about three to five years, should articulate your company's mission statement, and reflect the reason your company was founded. Thinking about your “why” gives energy to your goals. Long-term goals should be your big ideas and involve a combination of service, social, profit, or growth ambitions.
- Use short-term goals to get there.
Now that you've figured out what you want in the long term, you need to figure out how to get there. Short-term goals are S.M.A.R.T. -- specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-specific. Short-term objectives will have a much narrower time frame, but they should always be working to support the long-term objectives.
- Be vigilant.
Running a business is hard work and it’s easy to lose track of your goals as you tackle your daily workload. Checklists, spreadsheets, weekly check-ins with your team, daily reports: They can all help you stay organized and focused. Be sure to build a measurement tool (or several tools) into your goal-setting strategy.
This is not an exhaustive list, and I am, by no means, an expert on the subject. But our good friend Jim Dunn is, and he’ll be conducting our next seminar, “How To Have Your Best Year Ever!” this week on this very topic. Jim will cover many aspects of goal setting, including how your self-talk impacts your activities, goals, and overall success. We hope you’ll join us.
Goal-setting is critical to your success. Don’t neglect it. See you this week!