Wow. This year is flying by! Can you believe we are already in September? Back on January 4th, Stephanie wrote a blog post on setting goals for your business for the New Year. In her article, Stephanie discussed the importance of not only setting goals, but also checking in on your goals periodically throughout the year. So, have you accomplished your goal? If you are like most of us, you probably haven’t.
Dream. Build. Grow. These are words I use all the time. But, far too often, I talk to small business owners who get stuck on “dream” and forget to “build” and “grow.” Setting (and keeping) goals can help your small business go from dreaming to building and growing. With summer quickly coming to an end, the kids already back in school, and the holiday season rapidly approaching, let’s follow Stephanie’s advice and take a look at what you can do to achieve your goals before another year slips by.
Don’t Wait! Set Your Goals Today
Did you make a New Year’s resolution for your business? Did you completely forget about your new goal by February 1st? Or, did life get so busy that you slipped back in to old habits without really noticing?
These problems are so common, not only for the general population, but also for small business owners. Let’s be honest. Owning your own business is hard work and requires a lot of time and energy. Like you, I’m a small business owner and I understand how easy it is to get so caught up in the day-to-day activities that we forget to work towards our goals.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for a “new beginning” to set a goal for your business. Sure, the New Year is a great time to set a goal, but so is today! You don’t have to wait until next week, next month, or even next year to set a goal. It might sound cliché, but if you keep putting your goal off until tomorrow (or next week, or next month, or next year), tomorrow will never come. With that in mind, set your goal today!
Make Sure Your Goal is Realistic, Measurable, and Specific
When I ask small business owners about their goals, the typical response is something like, “I want to grow my business.” The problem with this goal is that it is too general. “Growing your business” lacks realistic expectations, measurable outcomes, and specific checkpoints that turn your goal into a reality. In other words, how do you know if you’ve achieved your goal?
Let’s look at three very basic examples of goals that are related to the growth of a business:
- Example 1: “I want to see a 200% increase in profits by next week.”
- Example 2: “I want to increase my profits by next week.”
- Example 3: “I want to increase my profits by 200%.”
As you’ve probably noticed, each of these examples is missing a key detail.
Example 1 is very obviously not realistic. In most cases, you cannot honestly expect to see a 200% increase in profits over the course of one week. Setting realistic expectations helps you ensure that you can actually achieve your goal.
Example 2 lacks a measurable outcome. If your profits increase by 0.001% from this week to next week, have you actually succeeded in growing your business? Setting measurable outcomes helps you track your progress towards achieving your goal.
Example 3 is missing a specific timeline. It is great to say that you want to increase your profits by 200%, but if you don’t give yourself a checkpoint, what prevents you from putting your goal on the back-burner when life gets busy? Giving yourself specific checkpoints helps you define a timeline to reach your goal. (Check out this Tweet from Dr. Phil).
So, when you are thinking about setting a goal for your business, make sure that you set realistic expectations, measurable outcomes, and specific checkpoints. This will help you build a framework for achieving that goal.
Prioritize Your Goals
As entrepreneurs, once we set goals that are realistic, measurable, and specific, the next problem is that it becomes difficult to prioritize them. You might have ten really great goals for your business, but if you try to work on all ten of them at once, you will most likely find that you don’t make significant progress on any them. This is where prioritization comes in to play.
There are a variety of articles and books written about strategies to help you prioritize your goals. In reality, every business has different priorities. When you look towards prioritizing your goals, ask yourself questions like:
- Which goal will remedy the biggest problem my business is facing?
- Which goal will be the most helpful to my business, my customers, or my employees?
- Which goal can my business realistically work toward right now, given every day constraints like time, money, staffing concerns, and personal know-how?
- Which goal will lay a foundation to help me achieve goals that I may set in the future?
With these things in mind, choose one manageable goal. Focus your attention on achieving this goal. Remember, once you achieve this goal, you can go back and select another goal to help your business continue to improve.
Write Your Goal Down – and Then Break Your Goal Down
Finally, it’s important to write your goal down, and then break your goal down!
I don’t mean “write your goal on a piece of paper that you will likely throw away next week.” I mean write it down somewhere that you can refer to it often. Write it somewhere so that, by this time next year, you haven’t completely forgotten about it. Write it somewhere that will help keep you on track towards achieving it. Write it somewhere that those around you will remember it, and they can help keep you on track towards achieving it.
After you’ve got your goal written down, it’s time to break your goal down. Make a plan of action! What steps do you need to take to get from Point A to Point B? This is really where you will go from dreaming to building your business. Often times, the hardest part of achieving our business goal is breaking it down. Once you have broken the goal down, it becomes that much easier to take the first step.
With these tips in mind, I hope that you find success in dreaming, building, and growing your business!