How To Set Smart Goals
“The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.”
-Cecil B. DeMille
If you have had any success at all in business, you’re probably no stranger to goal setting. In order to get anywhere in life, we must have a vision of where we want to be. So we must take the time to think about exactly what it is we want to do rather than just jumping at any opportunity that comes our way.
Some entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs because they want to make a living doing something specific. Maybe they’ve always dreamed of owning a clothing boutique or running a landscaping business. They have a fairly easy time setting goals when they’re starting out. For those who want to be their own boss but have a less concrete idea of what they want to do, it’s a little more difficult. But they too learn that having goals is crucial to initial success.
Still, many entrepreneurs do not have a good handle on goal setting. Once they set their initial goal of running a certain type of business, they may quit setting goals. This is detrimental to their success, because they no longer have anything to work toward. They’re just staying afloat. Staying afloat is better than sinking, but wouldn’t it be even better to move forward?
The act of setting goals doesn’t guarantee success. But when done properly, it does provide a tangible target to work toward. Here are some tips for setting goals that are challenging yet attainable and effective.
Many of us have goals that are just too vague. Some business owners set goals such as:
• Stay profitable.
• Get more clients.
• Make more sales than last year.
These goals are better than none at all, but they are entirely too general. If your goal is to stay profitable, you can accomplish that by making R1 in profits each year. But is that the kind of progress you really want to make?
Making more sales than last year is a little better. This at least gives you a semblance of a goal to work with, because you have your sales figures from last year. But again, if you make R1 more in sales than you did last year, you’ve achieved your goal. If you set the same goal next year, you can achieve it by making one more dollar in sales. You could eventually be operating at a loss because of inflation!
In order for goals to be the most effective, they must be concrete. Instead of setting a goal of increasing sales over last year, come up with a percentage or dollar figure to aim for. This will help motivate you and give you a benchmark against which to measure your achievements.
Set Time Limits
In order for a goal to be effective, it’s best to set a time limit for it. Do you want to achieve this goal in a year’s time, in ten years, or by next month?
Indefinite goals have a way of setting us up for procrastination. If we run across an obstacle in reaching them, we’re more inclined to put them off until a more convenient time. And quite often, we keep putting them off until we either lose hope or forget about them.
A goal with a time limit puts us under pressure. We may not like the sound of that, but it’s actually a good thing. If we set a goal that must be met in a certain time frame, we are more likely to work as hard as is necessary to achieve it by then. We may or may not make it, but we give it our best shot.
Break It Down
It’s important to have both short-term and long-term goals in business. The short-term goals give us smaller victories that keep us motivated, and the long-term goals ensure that we have something to continually work toward.
Each long-term goal should be broken down into smaller short-term goals. For example, you might want to make R1 million in sales this year. That’s a good goal, but if you don’t give it any further thought, it’s hard to keep progress on how you’re doing. So try working out how much you’ll need to sell each month. R1 million divided by 12 gives you a goal of R83,333 per month.
This technique can also help you determine whether or not a goal is attainable. For instance, if you’re a service provider, you might want to make R1 million this year. If you get paid R100 for each billable hour, you would need to work 10,000 hours this year, or about 192 hours a week. Since there are only 168 hours in a week (and you can’t work nearly that many), you’ll either have to find a way to make more per hour, get some passive income going, or revise your goal.
Put Your Goals in Writing
One thing that is very important when setting goals is writing them down. It sounds very basic, but you’d be surprised at how many people fail to do this.
If you set goals but don’t write them down, it’s harder to stick to them. They might be in the back of your mind at all times, but they’re not staring you in the face like they would if they were on paper. Writing your goals down in a conspicuous place forces you to revisit them from time to time, providing motivation and a sense of accountability.
In addition to writing down your goals themselves, try writing notes about your progress toward them. Whether it’s in a notebook or on a dry-erase board for everyone to see, it will help you evaluate your results. This will give you insight into what you might have done differently to achieve a better outcome and aid in future goal setting.
Goal Setting Is an Ongoing Process
“We find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve.”
No matter what stage of business you’re in, goal setting is crucial to your success. It helps you channel your motivation and keep a forward-looking attitude.
When you reach a goal, it is certainly cause for celebration. But it’s also an occasion to work on new goals. By always having something to work toward, you can keep that momentum going.