How to Set Goals for your Small Business

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Happy New Year! How many of you went on vacation over the holidays?  Or, have gone on vacation at some point in your life?   You likely planned that vacation. You decided where to go, how to get there, where to stay, and what to do while you were there. I think planning is one of the fun parts of going on vacation. Planning should also be a fun part of owning your business and setting professional goals.

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This is the perfect time of year to set some goals for yourself and your business. There are some tricks to doing it well.  Like a vacation, if you plan every single minute of your trip, you can overwhelm yourself and your family.  You don’t really get to relax and enjoy the journey.  Sure, you aren’t working, but you won’t really maximize the benefits of a vacation. You aren’t refreshed.  You end up needing a vacation from your vacation. If you overwhelm yourself with a bunch of goals, you can end up accomplishing none of them – or at least not achieving the great results you expected.

Why is it so important to set goals?  Goals give us direction and motivation.  They push us and drive us to achieve more.  They help us stay organized and focus our attention.  That focus is critical and should be used to connect everything – your website and SEO strategy, your social media campaigns, etc.  Measuring goals helps you keep score and can give you confidence as the year progresses.

reflect on the past before setting goals

If you’re stuck on where to begin, do some reflecting.  Think about this last year.  What do you wish you’d accomplished?  What went well that you could accelerate or take to the next level? Think about next December, what do you want to have achieved when you look back at this year? Still stuck?  Try using categories and set goals within them.  Those might be things like service, quality, leadership, and revenue or sales.  I would recommend getting a notebook. At the top of each page write each category and write your goals on the page below.

In all my years managing teams and people, I always told them to pick three goals.  Three is an easy number to remember which means it will remain top of mind.  Focus entirely on those three goals and utterly crush them. If you get them done early, THEN set another three and demolish those before setting any more goals. 

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If your reflection brainstorm generates more than three ideas, you can play a bit of playoff tournament with your goals.  If you set them up within categories, play within a category first. Take the first and last item on your list and decide which one is most important.  Take the second from the top and the second from the bottom and determine which one is most important.  Continue to pair and compete like this until you’re left with only your most important goal in each category.  Finally, play goals across categories until you are left with your top three goals. 

There is a great book I use every year to set my own goals. It is called The On-Purpose Person: Making Your Life Make Sense (written by Kevin W. McCarthy). I recommend it if you need more help to guide you through this entire process.

Now that you have your top three goals, your next step is to craft them into the best possible goals.  Check out my next blog: How to Write SMART Goals for additional details on how to do this.  Remember, this should be fun. I hope you will look forward to doing this every year.  Good Luck, keep me posted on how you do, and, if you need help, let me know.