Most small business owners would agree that goal setting is integral to business success, however in reality, not many have concrete goals written down to help guide their business from year to year. At any stage of the business lifecycle goals are needed to keep your business moving forward and growing, sustaining motivation through achievement of objectives and tracking and celebrating successes.
Goal setting doesn’t need to be a long and complicated process. At the heart of it, a goal is simply something to aim for. By going through the process of setting goals (or things to aim for) you are forced to think through want you want from your business and where the growth opportunities are. It provides a framework of which to work and a timeline for achieving outcomes.
So how can you get started?
Don’t waste months or even years waiting for the perfect time to start goal setting even if the process does seem daunting. Find 30 minutes of uninterrupted time away from the daily tasks of your business. Take a note pad to a cafe or a park and just focus on your business goals. Turn your phone off before you begin. Spend 5 minutes reflecting and thinking about what you have accomplished so far and what you want to achieve in the future. What has worked in the business and what has not worked so well.
Write it down
- Take out your note pad and start writing down what has come into your head. Ask yourself:
- What one goal, wish or dream do you keep thinking of when you think about the future?
- What do you want to achieve more than anything else?
- What keeps you up at night?
- How will you know when you have achieved your goals?
- Do your personal priorities align with your business?
Now review what you have penned onto the paper and break it down further. Apply the SMART goal technique to ensure the goal or goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Think about whether the goals are realistic.
Now start writing down all the actions you need to take to achieve your goals. As this is a brainstorming exercise you do not need to worry about the order of the actions, just get every idea written down. When you have exhausted all of your action ideas go back and review each one and break it down further into a list of simple actions. Think about what needs to be achieved on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis to work towards the goal. Write down the resources you need to make the actions happen efficiently within the business.
Make a commitment
By writing down your intentions on paper you are more likely to commit to seeing them through as you’ve created a contract with yourself. As Harry Truman the 33rd President of the United States once said,”Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.” Aim to do one thing, no matter how small, each day that contributes to your goals.
Don’t forget to celebrate your successes and be flexible as new business opportunities arise. Goal setting is not a set and forget exercise but requires constant review and frequent adjustments as your business progresses. The key to successful goal setting is honesty. If you approach your business with clear goals you will confront your decisions with greater confidence and ultimately that will lead to greater business success.