No matter what you do in your business life, you need to set goals. But why are goals important? And how do you make them actually work?
Whether your a professional or an entrepreneur, you may be a little unclear as to why you need to set goals. I think Brian Tracey explains it the best: “The establishment of a clear and central purpose or goal in life is the starting point of all success.” The same idea applies in business too.
A goal states your intention or what you want and plan to accomplish. Once you have clearly defined what your goals are, you can make a step-by-step action plan for achieving each goal. These plans provide your business with a direction toward building long-term success. And they guide you and your employees in making business-related decisions every day.
For example, when you’re planning a road trip, do you just get in your car and start driving in the general direction of where you’re headed? No! You pull out a map and plan your journey–deciding which roads you’ll take in order to reach your destination. (Or these days, you use your phone!)
You don’t meander along and decide at every crossroad whether you’re going to turn left or right -– hoping you eventually reach where you want to go. That would be inefficient and you might never get there! But too often, business people work exactly like this. They don’t set clear, specific goals, and worse they don’t plan out their path to meet those goals.
When you set goals for your business, you determine the direction your business will go in the next year, three to five years, ten years or longer. Your goals may define:
- How much profit you want to make each year.
- How your business will grow in terms of your product offerings, sales territory, physical size, number of employees, etc.
- How you will market your business.
- When and what your exit strategy will be.
Once you know the overall direction of your business you can use this information to help you plan the steps you need to take to achieve each specific goal. For example, if you want to increase your sales by 20% during the next year, you may realize you don’t have enough salespeople to reach this goal. Therefore, you may include an action step to hire four new salespeople within the next 60 days.
Other benefits that goal setting can provide to you and your employees are:
- An improved focus. You and your employees will know exactly what needs to be done on a daily basis to achieve your business goals. And you and they will likely use time more efficiently to achieve each step.
- Greater motivation. You can run a contest or incentive program to make it more fun to achieve your business goals.
- Evidence of your progress. You’ll be able to measure your actual results to determine if you’re on track with your goals. If you’re not on track, then you can make changes to your plan if needed. Plus this evidence will let you know when you have actually achieved what you set out to do.
Now that doesn’t mean that you can just write down a goal and expect it to happen. You need to break it down into reasonable chunks and be able to measure it along the way. And of course, you need to be ready to adapt to changes—because the future isn’t going to go exactly as you like.
Just remember: Goals are a road map for your success. So what are you waiting for? Grab a pen and some paper, and make a list of your business’s goals today!