Goal setting should rank high on your to-do list.
The right business goals can propel your company forward and motivate your workforce to achieve things they didn't think were possible. From a leadership perspective, goal setting charts a course for your company and establishes a framework for decision making and day-to-day business activities.
But your desire to set business goals doesn't guarantee your ability to set achievable, worthwhile objectives. In fact, many business owners enter the goal setting process with the best of intentions, only to see their efforts thwarted when it's time to translate their goals into an executable action plan. Lacking either the support of their employees or the capacity to achieve their goals, they quickly abandon goal setting altogether and go back to a more comfortable, reactive approach.
Make no mistake about it – goal setting is a critical mile marker on the road to success in the small business marketplace. Will it be easy? Of course not. But other business owners have done it and you can, too. All you need to know are a few goal setting tips to keep the process on track and on target.
- Be specific. Vague goals strip the goal setting process of its ability to deliver meaningful business outcomes. A goal to "grow your business" has little meaning, while a goal to "grow revenues by 10% over the next twelve months" crystallizes expectations and facilitates a purposeful strategic planning process.
- Think big. Goals are supposed to be big. If you can achieve your goals without investing any additional effort, then you've set your sets too low. When it comes to goal setting, thinking big is encouraged – as long as your organization is actually capable of achieving your goals through hard work and effort.
- Emphasize action. Goals require action. Let's say you want to be chosen by a food magazine as the nation's favorite Riesling winemaker. If your winery is in the ballpark and you launch an aggressive PR strategy to promote your Riesling, that's a legitimate goal. But if you do nothing and hope for the best, you don't have a goal – you have fantasy.
- Chart a course. Goals describe desired outcomes; strategies describe the processes you'll follow to achieve those outcomes. With that in mind, goal setting should naturally lead into a strategic planning process that charts your action plan by describing the necessary resources, activities, and benchmarks.
- Establish timeframes. Business owners are often reticent to identify specific timeframes for their goals. That's understandable since unexpected circumstances can delay the process and be seen as failure. But despite the risks, it's important to set deadlines to your goals in order to discourage procrastination.