From bullet journals to The Miracle Morning, goal setting is all the rage right now. Particularly for entrepreneurs and business owners, goal setting is an integral and challenging part of company operation that requires careful attention.
Setting new goals for your business can be exciting. It’s a creative process that allows you to envision a positive, productive future. Yet while the inspiration that accompanies goal-setting is important, it can also be blinding.
Not all goals are created equally. There is a right and wrong way to go about setting benchmarks for yourself and your business. If you’re way off track, some ambitions can even do more harm than good. To understand how to set the right goals, you have to understand why this process is important and how to avoid bad goal-setting habits.
Why Set Goals?
Goal-setting can be a frightening process, because it opens the door for failure. This fear leads many business owners to shy away from clear, tangible goals, which is to their detriment.
Goals are important because they allow you to develop milestones for progress that the entire team can understand and build upon. Every employee has an investment in the success of the company and a skill or skills that can contribute to that success. Outlining goals unifies your team in a common vision.
What Not to Do
With all skills—goal setting included—one of the most important things to identify is exactly what not to do.
Goal setting shouldn’t be a whimsical, off-the-cuff process. Don’t jot “goals” down on a piece of scratch paper then send them as a memo to your team. The creation of these targets requires brainstorming, data, consideration, and commitment—much like the process of realizing the goals once you have created them.
These objectives also shouldn’t be easy to achieve. Ease is the enemy of progress. Set goals that challenge your company without overwhelming it.
Your goals also shouldn’t be set in stone. The nature of these benchmarks is that they grow and change. Allow yourself to be responsive to the company’s needs and ensure that your goals continue to support progress. Don’t develop tunnel vision.
Finally, your first list of goals shouldn’t be your final list. Ditch some of your original ideas. They won’t all be good and the more goals you have, the less likely you are to fully achieve each one.
How to Set the Best Goals
Start with Priorities
A company’s goals should be an extension of that company’s priorities. Your specific objectives might change year to year, but they should consistently contribute to the enhancement of company values.
For example, if employee wellbeing is a priority for your business (which it should be), then one or more of your goals should always focus on that value. A goal that focuses on employee wellbeing might be expanding your company’s benefits package, providing more in-office perks, or trying to incorporate more flex-time and work-from-home options for your employees.
Be Clear and Specific
Vague intentions are useless. Not only should the overarching goals you set be specific, but there should be exacting milestones within each goal that allow you to calculate progress. Each goal should have a specific outcome and a clear timeline.
“Make more money” is a bad goal. “Generate over a million in sales revenue by the third quarter” is a more specific—and more effective—goal.
When you’ve decided on a specific, priority-focused goal, it’s time to identify why you haven’t already achieved it. What has kept this from happening for your company? Clearly, it’s not because you don’t care about it—you based this ambition on company priorities. So, what is standing in your way?
Say your goal is to improve your productivity by outsourcing tasks to other employees and freelancers. Why haven’t you done that already? Potential obstacles might include a personal fear of losing control, a lack of funds for hiring expert freelancers, or the need for better staff training to prepare them for new assignments. Once you have established what is standing in the way, it will be easier to address these obstacles and achieve success.
Plan for Accountability
Accountability for goals takes two forms: time accountability and person accountability.
When it comes to goal setting, deadlines are your friend. Create a reasonable timeframe in which to achieve each goal—depending on the nature of your objectives, the calendar will probably be a little different for each one. Break down the overall timeline into smaller time windows with specified tasks.
Additionally, assign each goal to an individual “caretaker” within your company. Each goal should have a person who is spearheading the operation, keeping others on task, and documenting progress. This ownership will greatly improve the likelihood of progress.
The Importance of Celebration
Celebration is a form of encouragement that breeds motivation. Celebrate not only the achievement of your final goal, but the achievement of benchmarks and milestones on the road to that goal. These will not only keep the goal at the forefront of the company’s collective mind, but also contribute to improved team morale and increased engagement in pursuit of the goal.