Muhammad Ali once said “What keeps me going is goals.” Whether you are a business with 100 employees, a partnership of two or an empire of one, goal setting is essential to keep your business moving forward.
Setting business goals will allow you to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. This combined with a strategic plan will provide you with a road map of how to get there. As with all strategic plans the time invested at the beginning is crucial to the success of the plan. From our many years of experience working with business owners we understand that your time is valuable, however our experience has shown that setting goals can provide a business with a plan and targets to lead to success.
To assist you with this we have identified 7 key factors in goal setting for business.
1. Set Long Term Goals – 3 to 5 years.
The first place to start when setting your business goals is to look at your long term business plans. To do this you will need to revisit why you set up your business in the first place along with what you had intended to achieve. Have you deviated from your original vision? If you have that is ok too as the economic climate or other major factors may have forced you to re-evaluate your initial vision. Part of setting your long term goals will involve a review of your business, your market, the economic environment and where you want your business to be within each of these. The timeline for your long term goals should be between three to five years and should be viewed as more of an initiative rather than a goal. An example of a long term goal would be to increase your market share by 10% within three years. Long term goals may seem a little big, unrealistic and scary but step two in our plan will help you in achieving them.
2. Achieve your Long Term Goals Through Short Term Goals
Now that you know where you want your business to be, you need to get there successfully. Short term goals are the objectives that will enable your business to achieve its long term goals. If we take the long term example above of increasing your market share by 10% within 3 years, your short term goal to achieve this might be to increase your turnover by 2% each quarter.
Short term goals should:
- Identify specific actions to be taken
- Identify specific people responsible for the above actions
- Be consistent, for example if you want to increase your turnover by 2% you should not be cutting your sales team.
3. Use S.M.A.R.T. goals
This is an easy yet effective technique for setting your short term goals. S.M.A.R.T goals are:
Specific – your goals need to outline in detail what is to be achieved and by whom. This will allow accountability and monitoring of progress.
Measurable – you need to be able to measure your achievement to enable you to monitor and track the success of the goal.
Attainable – you need to ensure your short term goals are in some way attainable. Setting unrealistic goals may be counter-productive.
Relevant – ensure your goals are relevant to your industry and current market condition. There is no point setting a goal of increasing turnover in a market that is declining. Your main focus in this type of market would be to diversify.
Time specific – you need to set a time frame for both long and short term goals. Setting deadlines allows you to track your progress through your goals.
4. Be Flexible
As with life things don’t always go according to plan! You need to ensure that you are able to adjust your goals to deal with unexpected changes so that you don’t lose momentum. While your plans need to be specific as outlined above, if your circumstances change, you need to be agile as the quicker you can change direction the more successful you will be.
5. Get Employees Involved
To achieve any plan you need a strong support team. Getting employees involved in your business goals is vital, as they will be the drivers of the objectives you set. If you want strong employee involvement you might even consider co-creating your goals with your key employees. You might be surprised by the knowledge or suggestions they have on how best to achieve the desired outcome. Getting employee buy-in will enable them to gain ownership of the goals and will prevent a top-down dictatorship feeling amongst employees.
6. Track your progress
It is important that you monitor your progress to ensure you are on track. Monitoring your goals will allow you to:
- Motivate your team through the success achieved
- Identify if you need to modify your goals for any economic or other changes that were not anticipated at the outset.
- Identify which goals need more focus
- Identify if you are on track for achieving your goals within the timeframe set.
A good way of tracking your progress is through weekly or monthly meetings, depending on the goals set.
7. Celebrate your Success
Celebrating your success, both during and at the end of your goal will enable you to recognise the effort that went into achieving your goals. Celebrating milestones throughout the process will also act as a motivator for your team to continue on towards your next step. Celebrations can give you closure on goals you have been working on, while also providing encouragement to achieve the other goals you are still working towards.
We hope you find the above tips useful when setting your business goals. As with Muhammad Ali, they should keep your business going. If you would like any further information on goal setting please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.