Many entrepreneurs don’t set specific goals for their business, but studies show that goal-setting really does drive higher achievement. According to small business peer board members who’ve embraced this technique, goal-setting forces you to focus your energies effectively and develop real, viable action plans. It isn’t hard if you follow their lead.
Here’s how PRO peer board members put the goal-setting process to work for them.
Vision Goals: Where Do You Want to Be in Three Years?
Most people set goals in one-year increments. Think bigger. Research indicates that successful people plan out three years ahead.
“I had always established and worked on long term and yearly goals,” says PRO member Dennis Poulin, Owner of R & G Vent Cleaning in Gilbert, AZ, an industrial cleaning company specializing in commercial kitchen exhaust systems to satisfy ongoing Fire Code maintenance requirements.
“My perspective was enhanced when I was asked about where I had to be in six months, three months and thirty days, and what strategy and actions had to be completed to accomplish my near term goals to meet my yearly goals and move toward my longer term objectives.”
So, where do you want to be three years from now? Think in measurable terms like dollars, percentages, and market share, as well as in terms of specific activities. Do you want to add new products to your portfolio? Hire a sales staff? These three-year goals are your Vision Goals.
365 Goals: Plot a Course to Reach Your Vision Goals
Now, let’s figure out how you’re going to get there. Break each Vision Goal down into manageable steps. Look at those initial steps—you’ve just identified your goals for the coming year. These are your 365 Goals.
For example, one PRO member’s primary Vision Goal was to attain 10% of market share. We determined that her primary 365 Goal would be acquiring 3% of market share. Her remaining 365 Goals included specific actions to help her reach her Vision Goal—i.e., hiring a salesperson, launching one new product and reworking her marketing plan.
If your 365 Goals look like action plans, you’re on the right track!
Now Goals: Jump-starting Your 365 Goals
PRO members report that the goal-setting process generates energy, excitement and ideas. These are valuable assets—don’t let them slip away. Leverage them by identifying one or two short-term goals that you can attain in, say, 90 days. These are your Now Goals.
Perhaps one of your Now Goals is to update your website or to join your local small business peer board. Whatever they are, get started right away!
Assign Due Dates to Your Goals and Action Plans
One step PRO members say is very important is to break those action plans down into small steps and assign each one a due date. This allows you to measure your progress and helps keep you on track.
Or, as I like to tell my peer boards: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Put Your Goals to the SMART Test
Have you heard of the concept of SMART goals? SMART goals are grounded in the real world; they aren’t just fantasies. Set yourself up for success by making sure your goals meet the SMART criteria:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
Put It in Writing: PRO’s Goal-setting Worksheet
Finally, write it (or type it) down! The act of committing your ideas to paper forces you to think in concrete terms and make your resolutions more real. It can also lead to brainstorming, which is always valuable.
Studies show that people who put their goals in writing are more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. It’s important.