One of the very best reasons for setting goals, whether in business or in your personal life, may just be the fact that if you don’t know where you’re going, you could end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Mapping out your objectives not only keeps you on track for where you want to get to, it lets you tweak your direction as events and circumstances within your business change and evolve. Goal setting is a powerful process that can help entrepreneurs to navigate their way through brand new territory. And the very process of setting a goal often serves as a highly motivating force that can assist in defining exactly what it is you want to accomplish.
4 Reasons to Forge Ahead
Every one of us is guilty of sometimes putting off until tomorrow what we should be doing today, but according to Psychology Today, a good 20% of us make this a chronic habit! Setting goals plays an integral role in the long-term success of your enterprise, but many business owners still try to get by with doing as little of it as possible. While the whole goal setting practice may seem a bit overwhelming, there are four very good reasons why it doesn’t have to be:
By using these steps as the framework for realizing your objectives, you can break the process down with a methodical approach that will make accomplishing your goals a lot easier than you think. Ideally, this framework should be applied to both your long-term and your short-term objectives, but first we have to figure out the difference between the two.
Turing Large Goals into Small Ones
As a rule, your long-term goals will typically require some big-picture thinking, and should be fairly ambitious in order to inspire dedicated action. They also need to reflect and agree with your company’s vision, mission, and overall values. Short-term objectives on the other hand, are the smaller steps that will help you to accomplish your large-scale plans.
If one of your bold, long-term business goals is to convert 75% of your company’s website visitors into leads for example, it’s up to you to determine exactly how you’re going to make that happen by creating a series of S-M-A-R-T, incremental, short-term goals that are:
- Specific in terms of what they’re meant to accomplish
- Measurable in terms of allowing results to be analyzed
- Action-Oriented in terms of who needs to do what, and when
- Realistic in terms of being attainable within a designated period of time
- Time-Bound in terms of having a defined deadline
Now let’s see how our basic goal setting framework can help get us moving in the direction of success.
Large or small, organizing your goals is all about taking them out of your head and putting them on paper. Engaging in wishful thinking, or wandering around the office with a vague notion that, “boy, it sure would be great to consistently earn a million dollars in annual revenues,” is not the way to make that happen.
The first step in the goal setting process is simply to set down each long-term goal you’d like to achieve, alongside the detailed smaller steps that will help to get you there – whether those steps involve increasing sales by a certain percentage each year, or cutting overhead costs by a third.
Prioritizing your goals requires that you decide which are the most pressing, and which should be tackled later. Very big objectives – like reaching a certain level of annual income – will naturally translate into a series of smaller goals that must be accomplished along the way. This is where prioritization and the concept of time-lining come in.
Short-term goals can be looked at as a cascade of events, each of which builds upon the last. Once you’ve defined a long-term goal you want to pursue, you’ll need to work backwards to figure out both the order and the ideal time frame for each event, or step, in turn.
A very crucial part of your goal setting plan revolves around your ability to measure results. It’s important that you determine ahead of time the best methods for analyzing the outcome of each of your planned objectives, so that you’ll understand when they’ve actually been met.
Giving your goal a defined value, such as the number of new customers gained in a certain period of time, or the amount of sales earned in dollars for example, will let you know with certainty when one step has been successfully completed, and you can move on to the next.
Reviewing your results goes hand-in-hand with measuring them. One recent business survey revealed that more than 80% of businesses fail to monitor their goals properly. Don’t make the mistake of letting your business run on auto-pilot. Measuring your results won’t help you much if you don’t take advantage of those measurements to regularly course-correct your business goal trajectories.
It’s vital that you set aside regular time to review, tweak, and fine-tune your goal-meeting methodology as necessary along the way. After all, when you shoot for the moon, being off by even a single degree can send you hurtling right past it and into the unknown.
Contact us to see how SLC Bookkeeping can help you set and achieve your big picture business goals.