People use goals to motivate themselves in all areas of life, including sports, school, and their career. However, goals are just as important at any stage of running a business. In fact, Harvard researchers have looked into the importance of goals and found that those who set goals are 10 times more successful than those who don’t. In other words, goals provide us with a sense of purpose and a path forward. It gives us something to work toward, which helps keep us focused on the task at hand.
Setting goals for what you want to accomplish as an entrepreneur and what you want to achieve with your business can make a tremendous difference in your likelihood of success. To create a strong business plan, develop a marketing strategy, and lead your business forward, you need to set critical goals for your business development.
It’s important to note that you’ll need to have a few different types of goals for your business. You will have goals ranging from tasks that you want to accomplish tomorrow to what you would like to achieve in the next few years. Your goals might also change as your business develops and you see new potential areas for growth. You may even realize that you have different goals from when you started your business journey.
However, the critical component lies in making sure that you regularly set goals and revisit your milestones so that you can gauge your performance, adjust when necessary, and continue to inspire yourself to keep moving forward. This article will dive into the importance of having a short- and long-term plan and provide tips for setting goals for your business.
Short-term goals refer to goals that you would like to accomplish in the near future. The near future might include any period of time up to about a year. You might have a series of short-term goals, such as a goal for the day, week, and month, and then your longer-term goals for the year.
It can be a challenge to work only with long-term goals. Often, the endpoint for your long-term goal will be further off in the future, so creating short-term goals helps you remain focused on the task at hand. It will help give your brain that little reward for reaching a smaller goal on the path toward your longer-term goals.
You will also be able to measure progress as you pass the milestones indicating that you are getting closer to reaching your long-term ambitions. You want the goals you set to be specific so you can concretely know if you’ve accomplished them. Your short-term goals should also outline the time frame in which you’d like to accomplish the goals.
Short-term goals can take various forms depending on your particular industry. Consider the different areas of the business that you need to develop. You might have short-term goals like:
These types of goals can often be reached within a few weeks and will help you gauge your progress as you begin to build your small business.
Long-term goals describe the milestones you want to reach further in the future. This is where you begin to articulate your one-, five-, and 10-year plans for your business. You want to think about your final ambitions for your business and what you want to accomplish as an entrepreneur.
Like your short-term goals, your long-term goals should be specific and have a defined amount of time in which you want to accomplish them. Keep in mind that your short- and long-term goals should work together. By setting your long-term goals and knowing what you want to accomplish professionally years into your business, you can start to set short-term goals that will give you stepping stones to follow along the way. This form of working backward benefits many people as they set their short- and long-term goals.
As a small business owner, your long-term goals can look at different aspects of your business growth and development. You might have long-term goals like:
These goals help you see where you want to take your business, providing you with the motivation to stay on course.
Every entrepreneur will need to set goals that matter to them. Only you know what you want to accomplish with your business and what you want to focus on as a small business owner.
Regardless of your goals, though, there are a few strategies to help you make the most out of your goal-setting. We recommend that you:
SMART goals are those that follow the specific criteria of being:
This method helps to develop milestones that provide you with the most information and make it easier to gauge your progress. However, it’s important to understand what SMART goals aren’t. For example, goals like creating a new website, hiring an assistant in the next week, or increasing sales all fail the SMART goals guidelines.
The first doesn’t give a deadline, which means it’s not timely. The second will be nearly impossible to do in a week (you need to post the job, screen applicants, conduct interviews, and make an offer), which means the goal is not achievable. Finally, the last goal doesn’t provide any means of measuring success — how much do you want to increase sales by and in what time frame? You have no way of knowing if you succeeded.
Remember that one of the most important points of a goal is to motivate you to keep working toward success. Therefore, you want to make sure you employ two main categories: stretch goals (that you must reach to achieve the goal) and realistic goals (that you know you can accomplish with some hard work).
Your realistic goals will help you maintain motivation by providing you with steady, positive feedback. As you reach these goals, you’ll build your confidence and drive to keep moving forward. At the same time, your stretch goals will challenge you to see what you can do. They will not allow you to get complacent but will push you to keep striving. Together, these two goals will help you accomplish more.
Many entrepreneurs make the common mistake of jumping in with their business and charging forward without taking the time to set these types of goals. However, without them, it’s easy for small business owners to get discouraged when they don’t achieve noteworthy success very quickly. By trying to do everything at once rather than focusing on a specific goal path, these entrepreneurs can find themselves burning through their budgets and personal energy reserves. It’s also easy to become distracted while working without a clear goal in mind to keep moving forward.
As you begin to develop your goals, you’ll find that you have a number of milestones to hit across various areas of your business. Since you can’t work on different projects and areas of your business at one time, you need to prioritize your goals and know where your focus should lie.
To help yourself, develop a list of your goals and consider the following questions:
Prioritizing your goals will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed in response to different action items vying for your attention. You’ll be able to focus on the tasks that have the biggest impact first and work your way down the line.
Revisit your goals and your prioritization order regularly, as well. For short-term goals, consider checking in weekly or monthly. Just five minutes to read over the list can help you see if listed items need any adjustments. For long-term goals, look at your progress and milestones every six to 12 months. See how well you progress and what needs adjustment.
If you’re in the process of starting or growing your business, setting short- and long-term goals can help you thrive. At ZenBusiness, we want to make it easy for entrepreneurs to navigate the business world. Explore our resources and see how many items you can cross off your goals list as you establish your organization.