I am often asked by my clients whether goal setting for small businesses is worth it as they think they can just make it up as they go along because the business is just them.

Although I know where they’re coming from, I have to disagree with them and here’s why…

Image of cartoon man holding a pad showing an arrow going upwards with caption goal setting for small businesses.
Goal Setting for small businesses

Having goals is going to give you something to aim for. Without a goal you are just aimlessly wandering through life and hoping that “somehow” you will get where you want to be.

That kind of approach is for amateurs, and hopefully you don’t want to be considered an amateur in your business. You want to been seen as a professional and as someone who is driven and knows exactly what they want out of their business – right?

Good, then let’s get serious about setting some goals so that you can walk the talk and achieve your dreams and ambitions sometime soon.

Firstly goals aren’t the same for everyone or every business. The goals that you set will be determined by the outcomes you want to achieve. These outcomes will be different from person to person and business to business but there are a few things that you will want to set goals around:

  • Finances – what income or turnover are you aiming for and in what timeframe?
  • Productivity – what output are you basing your turnover etc on?
  • Resources – What do you need to learn/put in place/buy/develop or create in order to meet your objectives?
  • Processes and procedures – what do you need to put in place to conform to legislation, serve your customers, achieve your outcomes?
  • Marketing – what do you need to do to raise awareness of your business/brand/product/service?
  • Product development – what do you need to work on in order to offer your customer the best possible solution?
  • Credit control – how are you going to manage your outstanding invoices or cash flow

This list is obviously not exhaustive and you will be able to think of plenty more things to set goals around as you become more competent at the task.

Goal setting, like pretty much everything else in life, is a skill. You get better at it the more you do it. To begin with you will probably not achieve most of your goals and this is because they are more of a wish than a goal. Before you get all offended please let me explain…

Wanting something to happen and then making a vague plan on how it might happen is more wishful thinking than planning. For example: if I say “I’m going to New York this year” this is great, but is it a goal or just a statement based on a wish to go to New York.

Do you think that my New York trip would be more likely to happen if I say this instead: In November of this year I am going to take a trip to New York. I am going to save the money that I make from my affiliate marketing and put this in a building society to pay for the trip, as I earn £300 per month this should take me 4 months to save the money that I need. I will book my trip in June and pay the deposit.

I’m sure you will agree that the latter is the most likely to bring about the desired result. Why do you think this is so?

Well, I have made some definite plans within that statement. First I have stated exactly when I intend to go to New York. Putting a time frame on something makes it more likely that it will be done. If I don’t specify when I’m going to New York it could take years to get there.

Secondly, I have planned where the money is going to come from to pay for the trip. I have also looked at how much I am able to save each month and how I am going to save it (the building society). I also know how long it should take me to save that money so I can plan when I am going to actually make the booking and pay the deposit.

Once the booking has been made and deposit paid, there’s little that is going to stop me from achieving my goal of going to New York. But there is just one thing that might prevent it from happening, and here it is…

Lack of action. Yep. I can make all the plans in the world and turn them into fantastic goals, but if I don’t actually take the steps that are needed to move me towards my outcome then I’m not likely to achieve my goal am I.

For example, what if I don’t actually save that money every month? What if I don’t make the booking in June? To achieve your goals you MUST take the action that you have specified within them.

How to create great goals that you can’t fail at.

So, how exactly do you go about goal setting for small businesses? Well I can help you out there as I’ve had loads of practice.

Great goals need to be SMARTIE. Yes SMART is what you are usually told but mine are so much better for the extra I and E. Here’s why…

First let’s look at what SMART goals are.

S – Specific. Goals need to be as specific as possible. Note how I said I was going to take a trip to New York in November. I didn’t just say I was going to go on holiday.

M – Measurable. Your goal needs to be measurable because if you can’t measure it you won’t know whether you have actually achieved it.

A – Achievable. There is no point in setting goals that you will never be able to achieve. You need to have the resources, skills, money, time, credentials etc that will be necessary for you to achieve any goal you set – or you ust be prepared to go and get them.

R – Realistic. Your goal must be something that is realistic. For example if you are turning over £2,000 this month you are not likely to be able to turn over £20,000 next month.

T – Timebound. You need to set a time limit on your goals. If you give yourself forever to do something then it is probably going to take forever to get around to it.

Now for why my goals are much more likely to be achieved than just SMART ones.

I – Imagination. If you put imagination into your goals you will be more driven to achieve them. For example I imagined being at the top of the empire state building when I set my goal of going to New York. By imagining you have already achieved you will be far more motivated to take the actions needed to make it happen.

E – Emotion. By putting emotion into your goal you will be more likely to stick to it because you will know WHY you are doing it and WHAT you want out of it. I want to go to New York because it is something I have wanted to do since being a child. I want to go and stand where King Kong did. I want to see what they saw in Sleepless in Seattle. Get the picture.

Now, just to prove my point. Think of something in your life that you really wanted. I mean really really REALLY wanted. You badgered your parents for it or you stared longingly at it in the shop window or on the website. You imagined yourself wearing it, using it, feeling it. You imagined how you would feel when you owned it. Can you think of something?

Did you get it?

I’ll bet the answer to that is yes. Mostly, if we want something badly enough we will do EVERYTHING it takes to get it.

That’s the thing about goal setting. You have to make sure that your goals are powerful enough to motivate you and drive you to success. Most goals that we set just aren’t that sexy. I mean turnover? Yeah right, who can really motivated by that?

Well, I can. I set a goal last year to triple my turnover this year, and so far I am on track to do it. Okay so it’s not as sexy as finding a way to buy a Mulberry handbag but if I can reach my goal I will be able to afford the Mulberry handbag, so guess what my why is for increasing my turnover?

It is just as important for small businesses to set goals as it is for big ones. How do you think they became big? They had a clear idea of where they wanted to go and an even clearer idea of how they were going to get there.

As a small business owner you have a duty to yourself to grow your business so that it can be the best it can be. You will only be able to grow your business if you know what you want to achieve and have a clear idea of the outcomes you are going to be striving for.

I know, it seems like yet another thing you’ve got to get your head around, and you’re right, but it will be worth it I promise.

To make it easier for you I have created a free Goal Conquering system that you can download here for free. It will help you to create goals that you simply can’t fail at, and, you will make a little extra money while you’re learning it too.

I really hope that I have inspired you to start setting goals as there is no better way to ensure success. If you feel that one-to-one support might be more beneficial to you I can help with that too. Please see here for more information on my mentoring programme.

Until the next time, good luck and my best wishes.