Goal Setting for Business Success - How to set, meet and exceed your goals.
Why set goals?
Goals are powerful and provide clarity, focus and direction. If you have employees they like to know what the business goals are to know what they are expected to accomplish and that everyone is moving in the same direction. In the same way goals can be the rudder for your business and for you as the business owner. It doesn’t mean you can’t move the rudder and change course if there are unexpected storms or new destinations, but goals set you on a path to achieve a desired outcome.
Goals, when you achieve them, can be celebrated milestones on your business journey. And if you don’t reach them, there is often rich learning to be taken when reflecting on why they were not achieved. Alternatively, if you achieve all your goals, perhaps they were not challenging enough?
You may want to throw in one or two ‘big, scary’ challenges in there too. When J F Kennedy on the 25th May 1961 announced the ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the moon in the next decade, few people believed it was possible. However, it was achieved on July 20th 1969. In 1961, no one knew how to make it happen but the goal motivated people to work towards a desired outcome. While you may never achieve your ‘big, scary’ goal it is often useful to dream big in order to really connect to what you would love to achieve.
The difference between personal and business goals.
Entrepreneurs should set themselves some personal development goals at the same time as business ones. Large Corporates invest significant time in developing their employees to ensure they have the right tools, expertise and skills to be the best they can be in their job. The same should be the case for business owners, if not more so as you are often juggling every aspect of a business, sales, marketing, finance etc. In reality, entrepreneurs often neglect their own growth as they are so focused on day-to-day challenges, but your own development and direction is an integral part of your business success.
Take time to reflect on those areas you find more challenging. Perhaps you love sales but have no ideas about your numbers. Or you love communicating with clients but need more expertise around the technology needed for your company. What could you do to gain more insight into those business areas where you need more knowledge?
Or your goals can be focused on ‘soft’ areas, such as better presentation, communication or negotiations skills. You don’t need to always invest money to achieve personal goals as there are a lot of excellent free webinars, training courses and information on the internet. What you do need to do though is commit and set aside the time to do it.
Business Goals are often easier to specify. Ask yourself where you want your business to be in 3, 6 and 12 months’ time and work out what goals you need to set yourself to get there. Is it increase your turnover, open a new office, make more profit or increase your client base? Once you have the goal you can plan the necessary action steps to get you there.
How to set goals.
I work with clients to create the space, support and accountability to help set goals and discover the courage to achieve them. However there are some simple processes all businesses owners can go through in order to have the framework to map out their business and personal milestones.
Firstly, set key questions to answer as you plan both your personal and business goals. Start with some goals to be achieved in the next 3 months, then 6 months then those that are longer term over the next year. With all goals they should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.
Allocate each goal to either, easy, medium, stretch or "big scary' as a simple way to categorise them. Make sure you have a good spread across the categories, so they are not all easy or stretch! Here are the main questions I usually include:
What is the the goal?
What action is required to achieve it?
Is it an easy, medium, stretch or 'big-hairy goal'?
Is it a personal or business goal?
When would you like to achieve it by?
How will you know your have achieved it?
Finally, don’t just set goals and put them in a drawer. Look back and reflect on them. Reviewing your goals is a great opportunity for a business review every quarter. What goals did you achieve easily? Which ones changed along the way? Which ones were just too challenging? Why was that and can you reset any of the goals with new learnings for the next period?
If you commit to this process it will leave you with clarity and direction to achieve the success for your business that you planned for. It means you are setting out with a clear roadmap for the next part of your business journey and will already be one step ahead of your competitors.