It’s no secret that successful entrepreneurs and other high achievers set goals. Setting smart goals in the right way can produce long-term vision and short-term motivation. Taking steps to reach a goal helps you focus on what you need to learn, how to organize your time and how to use your resources to meet those goals.
If you’re routinely unable to meet your business goals, it might be because those goals weren’t properly set in the first place. It’s common for business owners to spend too much time on day-to-day tasks instead of making progress on goals.
Here are tips to help you dig in and set attainable goals.
Have you heard the acronym SWOT? A SWOT analysis can be valuable when you sit down to establish goals.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Focusing on these four aspects helps you identify business objectives and business trends that will give you the most benefit. In turn, you can use that information to craft goals.
SWOT is broken down in this way:
- Strengths: Characteristics of the business that give it an advantage over others.
- Weaknesses: Characteristics of the business that place the business at a disadvantage relative to others.
- Opportunities: Elements the business could exploit to its advantage.
- Threats: Elements that could cause trouble for the business.
For example, if you have a coffee shop, strengths might be a superior product or an advantageous location. A weakness might be high rental costs. Opportunities might be adding a popular food item to your menu and a threat could be rising prices of coffee beans.
Once you’ve performed a SWOT analysis, you’re ready to start setting goals.
Goal Setting Strategy
SMART is another acronym to help you set goals. The business goals you set should be:
Here are tips on how to use each element to craft business goals.
Instead of simply “cutting costs”, a specific goal could be “reduce facilities expenses by 10% over the next 3 years.” Instead of “increasing profits”, put a number on it like “increase sales by 15% this year”.
If you’re not measuring, you won’t know where you stand and your progress can screech to a halt. For example, one of your business goals might be to increase website traffic by 10%. Visitor page views will help you measure that goal. If views are up, you’re doing something right. Views down? Look at the steps you’ve taken and adjust accordingly.
To make goals achievable, you need to be aware of your limitations. Do you want to add 20 more products? This won’t be attainable unless you have available working capital to purchase the inventory and the employee support to manage it. Be realistic and take cash flow, employee numbers and your own bandwidth into account.
A goal like “increasing Facebook fans” is fine. However, relevancy is tied to the “why” of a goal. If you simply want more fans because that’s what your competitors do, that’s not enough. A relevant goal would be to increase Facebook fans to highlight new products, advertise a sale or up customers engagement.
This quote from time management expert Diana Scharf sums it up: “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” Don’t end up discouraged by setting an open ended goal. Instead, try to accurately estimate how long it will take you to reach that goal.
Not setting goals has been compared to setting out on a ship without a destination in mind. Use the SWOT and SMART approach to help you set attainable goals and stay on track as you work to achieve them.