Definition: Establishing short- or long-term objectives, usually incorporating deadlines and quantifiable measures .
If you really want to make a success of your business, it's important to define your business goals, especially before you get started. For some people, the goal is the freedom to do what they want when they want, without anyone telling them otherwise. For others, the goal is financial security.
Setting goals is an integral part of choosing the business that's right for you. After all, if your business doesn't meet your personal goals, you probably won't be happy waking up each morning and trying to make the business a success. Sooner or later, you'll stop putting forth the effort needed to make the concept work.
At its simplest, a goal is just something you aim for. But goals are powerful contributors to successful business growth in several ways. To begin with, the process of setting goals forces you to think through what you want from your business and how growth may--or may not--provide that. This process helps suggest directions for pursuing that growth, which can greatly improve your chances of achieving your goals in the first place.
Goals also give you a framework within which to work. This tends to focus your efforts by helping you rule out actions that won't contribute to achieving the goals you've set. A very important part of that framework is a timetable. Any good goal has a timetable, and that timetable will influence your actions profoundly. When setting goals, aim for the following qualities:
- Specificity. You have a better chance of achieving a goal if it's specific. Raising capital isn't a specific goal; raising $10,000 by July 1 is.
- Optimism. Be positive when you set your goals. Being able to pay the bills isn't exactly an inspirational goal. Achieving financial security phrases your goal in a more positive manner, thus firing up your energy to attain it.
- Realism. If you set a goal to earn $100,000 a month when you've never earned that much in a year, that goal is unrealistic. Begin with small steps, such as increasing your monthly income by 25 percent. Once your first goal is met, you can reach for larger ones.
- Short and long term. Short-term goals are attainable in a period of weeks to a year. Long-term goals can be for five, 10 or even 20 years; they should be substantially greater than short-term goals but should still be realistic.
There are several factors to consider when setting goals:
- Income. Many entrepreneurs go into business to achieve financial security. Consider how much money you want to make during your first year of operation and each year thereafter, up to five years.
- Lifestyle. This includes areas such as travel, hours of work, investment of personal assets and geographic location. Are you willing to travel extensively or to move? How many hours are you willing to work? Which assets are you willing to risk?
- Type of work. When setting goals for type of work, you need to determine whether you like working outdoors, in an office, with computers, on the phone, with lots of people, with children and so on.
- Ego gratification. Face it: Many people go into business to satisfy their egos. Owning a business can be very ego-gratifying, especially if you're in a business that's considered glamorous or exciting. You need to decide how important ego gratification is to you and what business best fills that need.
The most important rule of goal-setting is honesty. Going into business with your eyes wide open about your ultimate goals lets you confront the decisions you'll face with greater confidence and a greater chance of success.