Goals are incredibly powerful things. The minute you write a goal down you steer your thinking towards the achievement of that goal. In life goals are empowering. In business goals are essential. The achievement of your goals is how you measure your progress. Your goals form the structure of your business plan – they are your targets, they define your purpose and your destination. If you are ever going to create a business that is not dependent on you, you must set goals that will lead you towards this end result.
I learned some basic goal setting tricks years ago, and one in particular I still use whenever I set goals for myself personally or my business. It’s an oldie (you’ve probably seen it before) but its a goodie (it works!). It’s the SMART technique which states that goals should be:
Specific – write down exactly the outcome you want in specific terms not vague terms
Measurable – you must be able to define what it looks like when its achieved (ie. “I want to be happy” is not measurable)
Aspirational – it should be something that motivates you and brings you a positive outcome
Realistic – you must believe in your ability to make it happen. “I want walk on the moon” may not be an achievable goal for you. But for someone at NASA it might be.
Time bound – put a specific date on the goal (not ‘in 3 years time’ but day/month/year)
The one thing I’d add to that is that your goals must be written down. In your head they are concepts and wishlists, on paper or on your computer they are defined objectives. For business planning I believe you need to have long term and short term goals. Long term goals, say 5 years out, which will be broad in nature. Goals for this financial year will be very specific in nature – the general rule of thumb being the shorter the timeframe the more specifically defined the goal.
It’s not rocket science of course but its amazing how many businesses I come across that are so focused in their business that they haven’t made time to focus their direction with clear goals. It’s one of the first things I look at when I work with a business to help an owner create an exit strategy… your goals define your ultimate success. How clear are yours?