Estimated reading time: 7 mins
What’s your dream when it comes to your business? For many of us just running our own entity is a goal in itself but getting up and running is just the first rung on the ladder. Once you’re underway, you’re going to need to readjust your goals to keep your business model fresh to keep you motivated and pushing forwards to bigger and better successes.
It might be that your goal is simply to get your business into such a shape that it practically runs itself, freeing you up to push on to a new venture, creating something of an empire. It might be that you have a more specific figure in mind in terms of your yearly turnover. Whatever it is, now is the time to think about how you plan on achieving that next set of goals and working smarter, rather than harder, to go about reaching them.
Business experts across the web will offer differing advice on how to go about starting this process and in reality, the way you choose to go about this is as individual as you and your business are.
Go back to basics
Start by looking at your mission statement. Don’t have a mission statement? Start by creating a mission statement. As simple as this sounds, in fact the act of having to sit down and really think about what you want to achieve in just one or two paragraphs can be a challenging but well worthwhile experience.
What it will do, is narrow down all the grand, long term ideas and help you to focus in on the main mission and the heart of whatever product or service you are offering. It can be tough, especially when you have a lot of ambition for what your business can achieve but there’s no reason you can’t re-visit your mission statement further along the line and adjust as you tick off your to-do list.
After you’ve figured out who you are and what you stand for, you’re in the best position to work out your goals. Be careful not to confuse goals with objectives though. Your goals are the long-term, big picture achievements that you’re aiming towards, while your objectives are the bite size accomplishments that you need to complete to get there. To look at it another way, your goals are the destination, while your objectives are the stepping stones that take you there.
Goals should, by their nature, be looking toward the future but they don’t have to be so far away that they seem unattainable. By all means set some five and even ten-year goals in place but also include the 12- and 24-month options as well.
What kind of goals will you be looking at? Often, we think about them purely in financial terms, and by all means do set these. Describe your goals as specifically as possible based on the information you have about your business and its current state. If you are looking at an increase in revenue be ambitious but still firmly grounded in reality. Look at what you hope to achieve over the next year, two years or five years and set your specific targets accordingly. If it looks like you might over achieve in the first twelve months, be cautious about ramping up targets further down the line but have in the back of your mind that you might just be able to set your specific goals a little higher in due course.
But besides the financial we also have other tangible business goals that are worth bearing in mind. You might be looking at, for example, raising your brand awareness or placing yourself at the front of the queue when it comes to your industry. Leave your objectives to specify how you’ll get there but set your goal accordingly.
Another example might include bringing in a marketing team in-house rather than using the services of an SEO Consultant. All these goals are for the overall benefit and prosperity of your company. None of them are in place simply for the sake of it. You might have two or three, or you might have ten, however many you have do make sure they’re set out along various timelines and make sure you don’t have so many that it becomes unrealistic to achieve them in the times you have set out.
Set out your objectives
When it comes to your objectives, it can be easy to get them confused with goals but bear in mind that these steps are far more specific and will involve far more data. They are logical and small enough to measure, yet large enough to have a real impact on your business once completed.
There are a number of ways to set out your objectives, the most well-known being the SMART acronym. If you don’t already know, then it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.
For us, the timely and relevant elements of this are fairly self-explanatory but the specific, measurable and achievable parts are definitely worth diving into a little deeper.
Often when it comes to being specific, we think we are but in fact we can go further. You might think it makes sense and even feel a little uncomfortable setting out actual figures to work towards in order, for example, to drive up traffic. The problem with not being specific enough is two-fold. Firstly, it gets you off the hook. If being in the ballpark area of nearby a target is good enough for you then fine, but if you really want to see your business succeed and see real growth you have to aim for the high figures and not settle for nearly. The second problem is that without specificity, you can’t have measurability. Or to put it another way, how can you measure your success if you don’t know what you’re measuring it against?
The two go very much hand-in-hand together, though very often we see that the measuring element gets pushed aside as a poor second. In fact, this measuring factor is crucial to determining if you’re on the right path or need to refine your objectives slightly. Without constant measuring and evaluating you can easily run off course and the further you go along a wrong direction, the harder it is to turn around and come back.
Finally, we take a look at the achievable part of the story. Ambition and determination to get that goal ticked off is to be applauded, but every objective you create to get there must be realistic. You will find yourself dispirited and wanting to give up if the objectives you’ve set are not something you can really hope to achieve in your timescale. The other temptation is to throw money at an outside company to come and do the work for you. While there is certainly a time and a place for consultants and experts to step in, if it’s not what you’ve budgeted for then the knock-on effect could be that your financial goal is seriously damaged by the decision. Remember this when you consider the ‘A’ factor to your objective setting.
Working on your own, or as part of a small team, can be challenging both mentally and physically and the last thing you need is to find yourself burnt out as you work towards achieving your business goals. That’s why, as well as growing your business, you’ll need to work on your capability to take on extra work and responsibilities. We don’t mean working longer hours, we mean looking at how you can maximise the hours you do work while taking care of yourself and building in some down time.
Quite simply you will need to create a schedule that allows for rest and exercise in the evenings and weekends, or whatever arrangement works for you. The key to doing it all is organisation. If this doesn’t come easily to you, consider buying in some software that’s going to help you schedule your tasks. Make your working day as SMART as your objectives and be realistic at what you can achieve, in the time available to you.
When you run your own company ether as a solopreneur or the head of a small team, it can be very easy to get sucked into the day-to-day without seeing the bigger picture. There are going to be times when you need to step back and check in with yourself to make sure you’re not heading to burn out.
It might feel like a day wasted but take yourself out of the office and off to a quiet place to think about your business and its future. Consider where you are now and where you want to be in the short, medium and long-terms. Set out your goals and objectives and give yourself permission to be excited about what the future holds for you and for the company you have worked so hard to get to this point.