Setting Goals: Your Path to Success
Goal setting is an extremely important part of owning and operating a small business. In many cases, small business owners tend to get get caught up too much in the day-to-day operations of their business. Without setting a big-picture type goal, the business runs the danger of becoming stagnant and losing focus of where it needs to be today and in the future. The steps below will help you and your business set the goals that will set you up for success!
Step 1) Start Out with a Broad Dream for the Business:
Before you can start to narrow down what the specific long and short term goals are for you business, starting out with a broad dream for your business is key. Your dream at this point does not have to be 100% realistic at this point so don’t limit what you believe the potential for your business should be. This dream should have a 5-10 year timeline. Don’t worry about how you will get there yet, we’ll break that down later. Write down any possibility you think is out there for your business.
For example, lets use a business selling guitars, we’ll call the business owner John. John’s business is currently very small in size, but John has a dream of one day being the largest distributor of guitars in New England. Right now, this dream is very broad and very high reaching.
Step 2) Develop Long-Term Goals
This step is where you will take your very broad dream and narrow it down into an attainable long term goal. Like the dream for your business, the time frame should be 5-10 years, but when setting the specific goals for the business, John will want to narrow down his dream into attainable steps. When setting these goals, remember the acronym SMART. SMART stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. So, after coming up with his business dream, John decides to make the overall goal for his business to be: To become the overall musical instrument sales leader in New England by 2025. This goal, while still being lofty and very long-term is now slightly narrowed down and meets all of the requirements of being a SMART goal. To keep your business reminded of this goal and to keep you and your employees focused on it, hang this goal up in your office in a place that is highly visible.
Step 3) Break up the Big Lofty Goal into Smaller Short-Term Goals
This is where we will take that big lofty goal and break it up into smaller more easily attainable goals. A good idea is to set new goals on a yearly basis, a 3-month basis, and a monthly basis. These goals should become more and more specific as they become more short-term, while still relating to the big overarching goal of the business. Setting aside the time to meet with your employees and block out what specific steps need to be taken within each time frame is invaluable. This allows for the whole business to be on the same page, working together to meet each goal set.
For our friend John, these goals might look like this:
- 1 year: Acquire a loan to expand and build another store
- 3 Month: Begin to develop new website with e-commerce and begin paid search advertising.
- 1 Month: Add new products, hire new sales staff, research needed website specifications, begin business loan application.
Step 4) Take Action!
Finally, after getting his plan in motion, John simply needs to go out and put the steps he laid out into action! In addition to the day-to-day tasks for you business, make sure that you are blocking out plenty of time to take the steps you need to follow the plan you laid out. When goals are met (nor not met) schedule new meetings to discuss next steps to keep the process rolling! By creating these goals and sticking to them, you WILL see your business start to take off!