Running a business entails all sorts of different things, ranging from pragmatic and technical considerations, to good time management, and the ability to develop a clear sense of the direction you want your business to head in, as well.
Everyone knows that goal setting – in one form or another – is important for any business, and for any entrepreneur who is interested in creating their own start-up. And there are, of course, all sorts of different approaches and methodologies related to goal setting that are commonly employed, as well.
When all is said and done, though, goal setting can “go wrong” in various different ways, either through excess complexity, or overly rigid or arbitrary targets, among other things.
Here are a handful of tips for effective goal setting in a business context, so that the goals you set for yourself have the best chance of yielding a positive outcome.
Make Allowances for Uncertainty and Setback
One of the ways in which people often get into trouble with regards to goal setting, is by setting goals that are highly dependent on very specific external factors that can’t be properly controlled or accounted for.
If you set your goals in this way, then any unforeseen external factor, or any degree of setback or uncertainty, has the potential to totally throw you off track while simultaneously having a very demoralising effect as well.
Today, everything might be going smoothly and working according to plan, only for it to become necessary tomorrow for you to seek the services of a law firm to represent yourself in some or other dispute.
To the best of your ability, set your goals in such a way that they leave “room” for uncertainty and setback, and allow you to remain flexible.
One way of doing this is to set goals that have more of a broad scope – or at least, that can be approached or accomplished through a variety of different means. Perhaps don’t set yourself goals like “by x date my company will be in partnership with y brand”.
Be Guided by Your Enthusiasm and Intuition
A very effective way of ensuring that you end up hating the goal setting process, and your goals themselves, is to set yourself goals that you don’t really feel enthusiastic about or particularly interested in, but that you feel are pragmatically useful in one way or another.
Ultimately, your professional goals will need to be able to stand the test of time and endure various challenges along the way, and you will also need to be able to maintain your own sense of focus, commitment, and interest, as time goes on as well.
By letting your goal setting be guided by your enthusiasm and intuition, there is a much better chance that you’ll actually feel positively emotionally invested in the goals you end up setting for yourself, and will not only be more inspired to pursue those goals consistently, but will also be more emotionally resilient in the pursuit of those goals too.
Support Each Goal With Appropriate Systems
It’s one thing to set yourself an ambitious and meaningful professional goal, but it’s quite another thing to actually make consistent progress towards that goal over time.
Sometimes, you will be able to make significant progress towards a goal of yours through a few moments of decisive action. For the most part, however, and the overarching goals you set yourself in a business context will need to be pursued stalwartly over a prolonged period of time in order to really come into their own.
It’s not always going to be easy – or even possible – in any given moment to identify the perfect action or project to invest your time and energy in, to ensure that you keep moving towards a goal. This is why you should support each goal you set for yourself with appropriate “systems,” that essentially put you on a path of routine action that can include lots of discovery and moments of insight along the way.
This might mean dedicating a certain portion of time each week to developing and refining your marketing campaigns, for example.
The key thing is just that you always have some mechanisms in place that can keep you moving forward in the pursuit of your goals, without becoming stagnant or aimlessly searching for the correct “next step”.
Focus on a Select Number of Powerful Goals
Focusing on a select number of powerful goals – instead of taking a “scattershot” approach to goal setting – is one of the best ways of ensuring that you will be able to progress towards your goals with a sense of clarity and consistency, as opposed to being sidetracked by the inevitable complexity that comes your way.
The highly popular book on business goal setting, “The One Thing”, essentially goes as far as to argue that you should really only have one active goal that you are pursuing at any given moment, so that you can invest the greatest possible proportion of your energy, attention, and resources to it.
Like it or not, we are all subject to time constraints in addition to resource constraints, and no one can dedicate an unlimited amount of attention to an unlimited number of different professional projects at a time.
For your goal setting to be as effective as possible, you should make it focused, and keep your active goals limited to a core few.
Set Goals for Different Timeframes, and Review Them Regularly
It can be useful to set yourself goals for different timeframes, such as a broad overarching goal that reflects your “grand vision” for your business, another goal that details your “three year plan,” and a goal for where you want to be within the next six months.
Goal setting in this way can help you to develop a clear sense of your short-term and long-term focus and priorities.
At the same time, though, it’s also important to review your goals regularly – at least annually. From time to time you will need to adjust your goals, or even abandon certain goals and replace them with new ones that are better suited to your changing circumstances.