No matter what line of work you’re in, you need set goals to succeed. Do you know what you need to have finished by the end of the day? What do you need finished in 6 months? What does your 5 year goal look like?
Here’s the thing about goals: we don’t instinctively know how to set them. Setting goals is a learned habit that we can improve over time.
Without goals set in place, we lack focus and direction. Setting them, however, can seem like a daunting task. Let’s tackle that and figure out the steps we need to take to set and accomplish those goals, shall we?
Read on for my step-by-step for how I set goals in my small business.
1. Find your main goal
Figure out what you want your main goal to be for the next few months. Do you want to hit a specific amount of sales per month? Or reach a new monthly income? Maybe it’s more of a personal goal, like losing 20 pounds or learning a new language.
Set one, and only one, main goal for yourself at a time. It may sound difficult being a small business and having lots on your plate; but by learning what your main goal is, you’re placing priority on the most important achievement that will push your business forward and deliver results.
Having one large goal to focus on also makes it easier for us to accomplish it. Our brains are only meant to focus on one thing at a time. By creating a list of multiple goals we need to achieve at once, it makes it difficult for us to focus on that one intention we should be striving for.
Make it a large, yet specific goal that you can break down into smaller tasks. The goal you set should span over a few months time that helps you work towards that big 5 or 10 year goal.
2. Divide it into smaller chunks
I briefly chatted about the importance of having one big goal and breaking it up into smaller, manageable chunks.
For example, if you want to build your email list, what are the specific steps you need to take? Research and delve into your goal to devise an actionable plan that you can work at daily. Create a list of tasks—each with their own deadline—that focuses solely on that one goal. Slowly and consistently chipping away at a goal is one of the best ways to ensure you stay on track and see it through.
Make sure they’re attainable goals. It’s great if you want to have a multi-million dollar company, but don’t expect to build that in 6 months. While that’s a pretty drastic example, keep this simple rule in mind when you’re setting your goals:
If you think something will take you 5 hours to finish, then estimate 10.
Always overestimate how long something will take you to accomplish. We always tend to set quicker goals for ourselves in hopes of finishing them sooner‚ but that can actually turn out to be more harmful than beneficial.
If we can’t finish a task in the time we’ve allotted ourselves, then we’re now behind. Soon, that panicky feeling sets in and we start to lose our momentum. Do yourself a favor now by giving yourself some leeway. Things don’t always go as planned, and by giving ourselves that extra time, we can stay within our schedule, feel less stressed, and truly conquer our goals.
3. Keep your goal visible at all times
As small business owners, there’s so much we’re in charge of everyday to keep everything running smoothly: creating, invoicing, promoting, customer relations, and more. It is too easy to lose our focus in our small daily tasks that sometimes we actually forget our main goal!
Write down your goal in a place where you will see it everyday. I actually put mine in two places: on sticky note on my computer, and another one—nice and big—on a dry erase board in my office.
Having this in-your-face reminder is perfect for keeping your tasks aligned to ensure you’re on track to meet your goal. At the end of the day, look at your reminder and ask yourself: have I done something today that will push me towards my goal? You’ll be surprised how often that may have been pushed aside!
4. Stick with it
Remind yourself that not everything will go as planned—and that’s okay. You may be bombarded with client work, or maybe there’s some unforeseen expenses that require you to make some adjustments.
Oftentimes when we make a goal, we think everything will go smoothly. Expect to hit obstacles along the way. This isn’t being pessimistic, but rather preparing yourself for whatever obstacles may come your way. By being mentally prepared, you’re more motivated to tackle those hiccups that arise in your plan. Stick to your goal and find a solution to stay on course.
Learning how to set goals as a small business is essential to pushing your business forward. Goals shouldn’t just be set at the beginning of the year and forgotten. Continually push yourself to achieve those specific goals you set throughout the year, giving yourself ample time to achieve them.
With enough strategic planning, patience, and determination, you’ll be well on your way to conquering all your goals.