As they say "nothing ventured, nothing gained." In order to be successful in your business venture, you need to start setting goals so you know where your company is heading. Goal setting is necessary for achieving success.
As you start setting goals, you become aware of new possibilities and alternatives for expanding your business. You will need to commit time to write your goals on paper and think about how you will achieve them. Your goals will be the starting point for developing a strategic plan that can help your company thrive. You can focus all actions and efforts toward attaining the goals instead of becoming stagnate.
When setting goals, you need to think of a system you will use to review your goals periodically to see if you are achieving them. As you make decisions on a daily basis, think about how your actions are helping you meet your goals.
An effective way to set goals is to use the SMART method. This means you are developing goals that are specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time-oriented.
Specific goals describe exactly what you want to accomplish. When you write detailed goals, you can more clearly visualize them and see how you can achieve them. A specific personal goal might be to take one college accounting course during 2011. Taking an accounting course would enable you to better understand your company's financial statements. A specific goal for your business may be to increase gross revenue by $100,000 in 2011. You could then look at what strategies might help you accomplish this goal.
Measurable goals help you to quantify your progress. If your goal is to increase gross sales by $200,000 in 2011, you should measure monthly or quarterly sales revenues against last year's figures to see how they compare. You might want to break your annual goal into quarterly monetary goals to monitor your progress. Then you can examine why you are or are not reaching your annual goal.
Achievable goals are those that are reasonably within your grasp. Your goal should be challenging enough to keep you on track, but not so difficult that you will be discouraged. Don't set goals that are out of your reach. Don't set a goal that you have continually not met. Start with new goals and give yourself a chance to succeed so that you will be motivated to continue. Examining whether a goal is achievable also helps you start planning how to accomplish this goal. Ask yourself if you can reach the goal of reducing overall budget costs by 10 percent during 2011.
Realistic goals are reasonable and relevant to what you want to accomplish in your company. Your expectations for your company should be high. However, they also should be attainable. If you set a goal to earn gross revenue of $100,000 a month when you've never earned that much in a year, the goal is unrealistic. Instead, you could try to increase your monthly revenue by 20 percent. Once your first goal is met, you can reach for higher goals.
Time-oriented goals allow you to set deadlines or timeframes accomplishing each goal. If you have open-ended goals, you won't hold yourself accountable to meet a goal by a specific date. This will encourage you to procrastinate. So when you state you want to increase your profit this year, you have a vague goal without a deadline. When you state that you want to increase your profit by 10 percent in 2011, you have a goal that can be measured by a specific date.
Don't just dream about having a successful business — be realistic. Use some common sense and think of reasonable goals you can actually achieve. If you want to increase market share by 5 percent within two years, then how will you realistically accomplish this goal? Simply writing your goals down doesn't help unless you develop plans and strategies, and then implement them to achieve your goals. As you make decisions, you need to determine whether your actions move you closer to accomplishing your goals. You can set personal and business goals to help you achieve success.
Contact your local Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers assistance with small business issues.
- Karen Bradshaw, business specialist, MSSU Small Business and Technology Development Center. (This article is reprinted with permission from the Joplin Tri-State Business Journal.)
This story was featured in the February 2011 newsletter