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5 Goal-Setting Guidelines That Drive Success Consistency leads to constant motivation, and before you know it, you'll reach the pinnacle of success, one goal at a time.

By Brian Will Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • Setting overzealous goals that leave you in fear of failure isn't the answer; it's about crafting motivating, realistic, and achievable goals.
  • By setting achievable, realistic and motivational goals, you're on the path to reaching new heights in your business.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship and business, goal-setting is the compass that guides us toward success, but there are a lot of misconceptions about how our goals should be set. In this article, we're taking a fresh perspective on the "foundational" truths of setting business goals and finding a practical and effective solution that will help you achieve remarkable growth without unnecessary stress.

Read on to find out the five essential guidelines for setting goals.

Rejecting common goal-setting advice

It's great to seek guidance when you're trying to set the right goals for your business, but unfortunately not all commonly shared phrases align with practical success strategies.

These common phrases about goal-setting sound good on paper but not so much in practice. Let's find out why:

Common Phrase #1: If your goals don't scare you, they aren't really goals.

  • While the sentiment here is to encourage ambitious goals, the right goals should not induce fear. They should ignite your passion and determination, propelling you forward with enthusiasm rather than causing paralyzing unease.

Common Phrase #2: If you can conceive your goals, they are too small

  • If you have no idea how to reach your goal, you'll likely never get there. While they should be challenging enough to foster growth, setting goals beyond your understanding or capabilities can lead to frustration and failure. Strive for goals that are ambitious and achievable, providing a clear path for progress without unnecessary obstacles.

Related: The 5 Golden Rules of Goal-Setting

Now, let's get down to the real business of goal-setting for success. Before you read through these five essential guidelines, you have to understand that success is a progression of thoughts, ideas and execution, and it doesn't happen overnight.

Now, here's how to set goals that drive success:

1. Start with realistic timeframes

Going from $0 in profits to $500,000 in a single year might sound thrilling, but is it feasible? Set your goal up for success by creating a realistic timeline to complete it. Consider whether your goal is achievable in one year or a longer timeframe, such as three years, would be more realistic.

2. Choose the right vehicle

Determine if your current role or business has the potential to reach your overall profit goals. Evaluating your current situation and identifying whether it can realistically lead to your goal is a crucial starting point in goal-setting. If where you are now can't get you where you want to be, it's time to explore other options.

Related: The 10 Golden Rules of Effective Management

3. Create a detailed P&L

If you don't know your numbers, how can you know what they'll be down the line? Building an accurate Profit and Loss (P&L) statement for your business is essential, as is breaking down revenue, expenses, sales, leads, and overhead. This provides a detailed financial roadmap, shows you the progress you're making as you go, and allows you to assess the feasibility of your income goal.

4. Back it up and cut back

Take your ultimate goal and cut it back into smaller milestones. Say you're making $100,000 a year now, and your goal is to make $500,000. Break that larger goal into milestones of $200,000, $300,000, $400,000, and finally, $500,000. Now you have a four-step progression, and you can create a realistic timeline for each, let's say one year. Breaking your long-term goal into shorter, more manageable milestones helps you maintain motivation and track progress effectively.

Related: 16 Actions to Take to Achieve Any Goal

5. Set short-term obtainable goals

Adding onto the previous point, once you've broken down your ultimate goal into one-year increments and created a roadmap for each year, take it a step further and create 30-day action plans for each month. Stay focused on daily and weekly targets, and get specific with your short-term goals. This allows for the most accurate measurement of your progress and guarantees you'll stay accountable for your long-term goals.

The power of progression

The progression of short-term goals works like building blocks. Adding one block at a time is more accessible than stacking ten blocks simultaneously. This method keeps you motivated, ensures consistent wins, and prevents constant failure because these short-term goals allow you to see progress, build confidence, and ultimately achieve your desired long-term success. By setting achievable, realistic and motivational goals, you're on the path to reaching new heights in your business.

Related: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Building a Successful Business


In the fast-paced world of business, goal-setting is often misunderstood. Setting overzealous goals that leave you in fear of failure isn't the answer; it's about crafting motivating, realistic, and achievable goals. The path to success is a progression of thoughts, ideas, and actions, taking one step at a time. Start with practical timeframes, assess your vehicle for success, create a detailed roadmap, break your ultimate goal into smaller milestones, and set short-term, attainable targets. This progression leads to constant motivation, and before you know it, you'll reach the pinnacle of success, one goal at a time.

Brian Will

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Brian Will Media

Brian Will is a Serial Entrepreneur and a Wall Street Journal best-selling author. Currently, Brian owns a growing chain of restaurants, a Real Estate company and runs a Business Mastermind and Entrepreneur Coaching Program. He also serves on City Council in his hometown.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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