It’s closing in on mid-January, and what happened to all those new year’s resolutions you set with such enthusiasm 10 days ago? Resolutions often quickly get forgotten. How can you turn your good intentions for your small business into real action? Turn those resolutions into “small business success goals” for 2017.
How do goals differ from resolutions? Resolutions are intentions. Goals are specific, realistic, measurable objectives. They give you clear, practical targets. They help you achieve success. After all, one of “Rhonda’s Rules” is “you can’t reach a goal you haven’t set.”
Most small business owners, however, often feel they’re too busy running their companies to take time to develop a specific list of goals. Besides, if you’re like me, you have a sense of your goals in your head, so why write them down? But “mental goals” tend to be either too big (“Be a millionaire by the time I’m 30”) or more likely, out of our control (“Land five new clients this week”).
Yes, developing a list of achievable goals requires a bit of work. You don’t want to sit down and just write out a whole laundry list of desires. That’s going to result in a frustrating number of unachievable targets.
You’ll likely start by writing down your big, long-term goals. That’s OK. But while these are important to keep in mind, they’re also goals most likely to be only minimally under your control, to change over time, and often, conflict with one another (“double the size of my business and spend more time at home with the kids”).
So while it’s important to understand your long-term goals, focus on short-term, specific goals that will help you achieve success this year.
How? Here are 7 steps towards achieving your success goals in 2017:
- Get specific and include numbers and deadlines: Example – “For the next three months, I’ll call 20 new prospects each week and go to all my daughter’s soccer games.” This gives you a yardstick by which to measure progress and helps you set priorities for how you spend your time.
- Be realistic given the many demands on your energies and your resources, and revise your goals if necessary: “For the next three months, I’ll call 10 new prospects a week and go to my daughter’s soccer games.”
- Translate those goals into short-term objectives, ideally with action attached: “This week, I’ll call 2 new prospects each day, first thing in the morning, and go to my daughter’s soccer game Tuesday.”
- Put the most emphasis on goals within your control rather than those determined by the actions of others: “I’ll make 8 cold calls this week” instead of “I’ll get 3 new customers.”
- List when you will re-evaluate your goals, measure progress, and set new ones: “I will examine these goals on April 30 and set goals for May.”
- Put limits on selected goals: Some goals will be outside your complete control (“I’ll increase sales by 25%”), so it’s important to set limits on how long you will focus on such targets. “If I can’t sell this new product after calling 10 of my current customers, I’ll switch to putting my efforts into an existing product.” For example, when I started my small business, I set a limit. I told myself if I ever reached the point of needing to mortgage my home, I’d throw in the towel and look for a job. Fortunately, it never came to that, but I knew I had an absolute boundary.
- Reward yourself when you accomplish goals: Rewards keep you motivated to set and reach future goals. As an entrepreneur, there’s usually no one else to acknowledge your achievements but yourself. So if you land a big sale, make all your calls for the month, or finally get approval to start building that second location, give yourself a prize. But don’t make every personal pleasure dependent on reaching business goals (“I’ll take a vacation when sales reach $250,000”) especially those outside your control. If you do, you’ll quickly find yourself resenting your business and feel trapped.
You need goals as business guideposts, or else as Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you will wind up somewhere else.”
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2017
This article originally ran in USA Today on January 11, 2017