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11 tips for setting goals for your business print Print

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To be successful with your business you’ll need to have a clear direction, whether it’s to achieve a good life-work balance, or to build a business empire. This clear direction is achieved through setting goals, and here are 11 tips to help you on your way.

Effective goal setting

Why it’s important to set goals

Managing a small business is hard work - harder than many people think - and many business owners put in enormous amounts of effort to ensure their business doesn’t fail. Having a clear goal makes you focus on what you need to do to be winning and can give you confidence that you’re doing the right things. This makes running a business that little bit easier.

In contrast, without goals we tend merely to drift through life, achieving far less than we are really capable of. Trying to work without goals is like setting off on a journey without a map or destination.

Whether you’re setting up your new business, or you’ve been running your business for years, thinking about what you want to achieve is important.

Some common starting points for goals are:

  • A better life-work balance
  • Honing your product or service so it’s the best it can be
  • Creating a sustainable income 
  • Improving profit, with the aim to sell the business later on.

11 tips for setting goals

1. Review your business plan

To set realistic goals, you need to know your market, your competition, the challenges and the opportunities, so it’s worth reviewing (or creating) your business plan first. We can help you with that with our article on How to write a simple business plan.

2. Be brief but specific

There’s no point being vague, or how can you tell if you’ve accomplished it or not? Determine figures, facts and dates. Instead of: "I am going to be more successful at selling," write: "I will increase sales by 5% each month for the next five months.”

3. Create deadlines

Following from point 2, it’s not a goal unless you have to reach it by a certain date. Deadlines encourage motivation and prevent procrastination.

4. Measure performance

It’s important to be able to monitor your progress. So if your goal is to increase sales by 5% each month, make sure that at the end of each month you review whether you’ve achieved this, so you can take action if you need to.

5. Stepping stones 

If your goal is big and the deadline is a long time from now, set yourself short and medium term goals to help achieve this. This can help motivate you and also allows you to check in that you’re on track along the way.

6. Own your goals

Figure out what you want, not what someone else has suggested you aim for. There are often many people who will give you tips and advice for your business. Make sure you’re following your own path because you’ll have more conviction and determination to achieve goals you’ve set for yourself.

7. Challenging, but realistic

There’s no point setting goals that are impossible to achieve. This will simply be de-motivating. Set goals that take you out of your comfort zones, but are still achievable.

8. Put them in writing

Write them down and keep them where you can see them. Written goals are more effective than just keeping them “up here”, because writing them down means you had to think them through first. This clarifies your goals and starts the process of commitment. Plus, if you’ve got them displayed, such as on your fridge, they’ll continue to motivate you.

9. Share them

It makes you more committed to them, and it means others can offer you help and advice.

10. Be flexible

Life is full of change. Is your goal still realistic if a competitor sets up targeting your market? Sometimes you may find that your goal needs to be adjusted along the way.

11. Celebrate success

If you achieve your goal, or better yet, beat it, make sure you reward yourself. Being in business can be hard; make sure you take the time to recognise your success.

Tools & resources

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