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Why setting goals is vital to the success of your business

Ambition. Intention. Objective. Target.

These are just some synonyms for the word ‘goal’

Whatever word you prefer to use, having a clearly defined list of the things we want to do or achieve, developing a plan, and (most importantly) executing it, seems to be a process most people attribute to the success in attaining their goals

When we lack clearly defined goals or objectives our actions can become random, chance, or indecisive. Bursts of activity followed by months of inertia can lead to demotivation, lack of purpose, and frustration. Fear of failure, analysis paralysis, and imposter syndrome can start to creep in. Ultimately, we end up achieving very little, if anything, or perhaps going backwards altogether and losing any momentum we worked so hard to gain

The benefits of having goals have been written about at length by so many, no doubt I will repeat many here, but they are well worth revisiting

Measure up

Having a goal means we can create a plan to achieve it. Winging it, flying by the seat of your pants, or just scraping through each project may have got you to this point but is rarely sustainable. KPI’s, targets, and indicators are measurable when you have identified what they are. These can be sales, growth or revenue related, or focus on service levels, quality, and retention rates. Without some form of indicative marker, there is no means of measurement potentially resulting in wasted time, money, and effort

  Get the work you want

Working towards goals that are aligned with our values makes us more likely to achieve them. Working against our values can lead to resentment, frustration, and lack of passion for the work or an inability to identify with the people involved. It is easier to identify opportunities aligned with your goals when you know what they are. Whether opportunities are scarce or abundant, having a focused mindset can streamline your mission to find the work you want rather than accepting whatever comes your way, if anything comes at all. When your network knows what you want, they are more likely to signpost you as a potential candidate

And action!

When we have an action plan, we can begin to understand how our actions are contributing to the achievement of those outcomes. If you aren’t doing at least something to achieve your goals, then why do you expect them to just happen? Blaming others for your lack of action, or inability to stick to your own plan is not the answer. Life will get in the way, that is inevitable, but having a plan means you are more likely to pick up where you left off than having to start over. Even when we’re not ‘feeling it’, the smallest of actions can make a difference. Being real and taking some action is better than doing nothing

Mind the gap

Truthfully identify gaps in your plan, skillset, or knowledge. We don’t know what we don’t know and acknowledging this means we can reach out to others for support when needed. Running a business requires many skillsets and the wearing of many hats. Don’t be afraid to reach out. It is easier to ask for help when you understand what needs to be done and where the gaps are

Check in

It is easier to measure progress when you know what has been done and what is left to do. Most people I know love a check list of some sort. This can be chart on the wall, in your notebook, or in digital form using Trello,, or Todoist, among many others. This means that when you take a break you can return to your place without the risk of double handling work unnecessarily or missing out important work altogether

Eliminate waste

Wasting time, money, and energy is huge drawback for any business. It’s demotivating, disheartening, and takes a huge amount of effort to get everything and everyone back on track. The time will never be refunded. The resources can’t always be recouped or repurposed, and energy is often in short supply when everyone is irritated

When everyone is working towards the same goals, utilising the same plan, there is a reduction in wasted time, money, and effort. People are doing what they should be doing, utilising the agreed tools, working towards the same things

Schedule your priorities

Actively and productively work ON and IN your business. Prioritising paid client work is important to ensure you can maintain your workload, pay yourself and your bills. Equally, setting aside regular desk or thinking time for working ON your business offers consistency in your approach to working towards your business goals. This can be daily marketing activity, staying on top of the accounts, or maintaining your industry knowledge and expertise. As Covey said, the key is not to prioritise what is on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities

Flexible planning

Your goals and plans should focus on what you can control. Planning and subsequent activity can be flexible to allow for life events that we can’t control. At the outset we risk being so rigid in our planning that we don’t allow any wriggle room for the stuff we can’t control. This can contribute to stress levels. Family, friends, colleagues, clients, customers can all toss a spanner in our works now and then. Projects do go off track. Building in breathing space for unforeseen events lessens the impact on you, your work and business growth plans

Benefits for all

Being clear on your direction can be beneficial for your clients. Trying to be all things to all people can lead to misunderstandings, disappointment, and burnout. Knowing when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’ can have a huge impact on your work, your business, goal achievement, and ultimately your life

Being clear on the objectives is beneficial for your employees and contractors too. When everyone knows what to do and why, objectives are more likely to be achieved in the required time when everyone is on the same page

Distraction management

Having precise, defined objectives helps to maintain focus. Distraction management is crucial to staying on track. Goals and plans double up as a sense-check when tempted by the many shiny baubles designed to distract us and set a criterion to help decide what adds value or could drain valuable time and resources

As unique as you are

Your plan can be as unique as you whether it’s bullet point lists, pictures and diagrams, an app on your phone or sticky notes on a whiteboard, it is better to design a plan that works for you and your team than struggle with an expensive, complicated structure that no one really understands thus less likely to achieve

Some final thoughts on the benefits of goal setting for your business

The little things are just as important as the big things. It’s not always about 6 figure incomes and buying expensive stuff. Setting goals and planning work that is important to you and aligns with your values is what matters. Writing the plan that you think others want to hear or read is unlikely to motivate you or work for you. If you are prioritising everyone else’s stuff, your stuff will not happen

You don’t have to share your plan with anyone. We’ve talked about minimising waste and maximising resources; this includes your headspace. Having someone to constructively challenge your planning is a great way to identify gaps but having a persistent negative presence that repeatedly fails to add value will be a drain

That said, finding a group of like-minded individuals to share your plans and create accountability can be highly motivating and rewarding. If you have so many ideas and plans, finding a coach or planning programme can help with streamlining and focus

Goal planning doesn’t have to be all work, work, work either. Planning makes it easier to fit in the fun stuff, and identify what you can delegate or outsource to ensure the work is done whilst you are working through your bucket list

Finally, don’t forget to record what you have achieved, the smallest of wins are always worth celebrating. I was given this advice by my business mentor. Whether you are a doer or an achiever, we can often get carried away with our planning and doing that we often underestimate what we have been achieving all along

If you would like to join like-minded people to define and plan your goals and actions click here to register for our next Momentum Day event

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash