Defining Your Business Goals

When you're just starting up, it's a good idea to set goals for your company and align them with your personal goals as well. Consider this advice for setting goals that are realistic for you.

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By Entrepreneur Staff

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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. When setting goals, aim for the following qualities:

Specificity. You have a better chance of achieving a goal if it is 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 self-evaluation and goal-setting is honesty. Going into business with your eyes wide open about your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes and your ultimate goals lets you confront the decisions you'll face with greater confidence and a greater chance of success.

This article is an edited excerpt from Start Your Own Business, Fifth Edition, published by Entrepreneur Press.
Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff

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