We are nearing the end of January, and I am wondering if you have set some business goals for your upcoming year.
Clearly, there is nothing magical about the month of January. However, it is a natural time to look back at the past year to evaluate successes and failures. It is also a great time to look ahead and set a goal or three to achieve over the next 11 months. Whether you have been a small business owner for five years or five months, setting goals is critical to success. This is especially true if you are a new solopreneur or small business owner.
I am not a huge proponent of New Year’s resolutions. They are often open-ended, vague intentions based on emotion. Goals, on the other hand, easily outperform resolutions when set correctly. According to Brendan Dell clarity about what, why, and by when really matters. Based on his podcast and some additional research, I have come up with the 3Ps of effective goal setting. Goals are to be practical/pragmatic, purposeful and planned.
Continue reading to discover how you can set effective goals. Ultimately, you will likely do less to achieve more.
I. Determining Your Practical Goal(s)
Let’s face it, no one likes to fail. However, this happens because often the goals one sets, whether personal or professional are unrealistic, audacious or to many. This is a recipe for disappointment, dissatisfaction, and/or burnout. Goals can either overwhelm or empower, frustrate or excite. While it is important to challenge ourselves, it is also important to be realistic. In order to avoid a path to failure take the following steps to setting practical goals.
1. Set Time Aside to Evaluate
As a solopreneur or small business owner you do not have a lot of time to do a lot of things and do them well. So rather than setting numerous goals first take time initially to evaluate the previous year. Discover what went well, and what areas could be improved. Then, decide on your goal(s).
2. Select 3 Goals Maximum
Having evaluated the past year determine no more than 3 goals for your business for the upcoming year. This number is practical. It will prevent you from failure. Furthermore, lets face it, we want to have a balanced work and personal life. This step will head off eliminating other important things in your life that bring you happiness.
Once you have the three prioritize them. The first one has to be what really matters. Put first things first and then what follows may be a natural outcome of the first. Whatever the number, 1,2 or 3, by focusing on the most important first, your business will be propelled forward.
II. Making Your Goal(s) Purposeful
Now that you have taken the time to reflect and set (no more than) 3 goals, it is time to turn your attention to making them purposeful. This is done by paying attention to the why of the goal and the when it will be reached.
1. Why This Goal
A goal at first glance may seem like a great idea, but it is important that it fit with the BIG WHY you got into business in the first place. For example, you began your business to provide eco-friendly laundry supplies. Now your goal is to focus attention on sustainable packaging. This goal fits. It is not detracting from the overall mission of the business, but enhancing it. If the goal does not fit with your overall purpose of being in business, then maybe it needs to be reevaluated. When you know why you are making this your goal, you can face each day with purpose.
2. When will the Goal be Reached?
Having decided upon the what and why it is important to determine when the goal(s) will be reached. Having a deadline is important for a number of reasons.
A deadline provides the following:
- Accountability and Motivational Tool
- Great Time Management Tool
- Great Stress Management Tool
Initially, having a goal can be exciting, but over time that can fade. As a solopreneur or small business owner, it is important to write down and share your goals with someone else. They can encourage and support you as well as keep you accountable. As you move toward reaching your goal, you will be reinvigorated.
A time limit also helps prevent you from distractions, and can enable you to track how you are doing. In turn, staying focused will manage your stress level. It can prevent you from being overwhelmed by being pulled in one direction and then another. Perhaps, as a solopreneur wearing many hats, you may need the help of a freelancer. If you are a small business owner, you may have to delegate.
III. Planning the Path to Achieving your Purposeful Goal(s)
According to How to Set Effective Goals as a Solopreneur by Brenden Dell, what you are doing now, intentionally or otherwise, is going to produce what you are getting. If you want to introduce something new you are going to have to create a different path. So, you have the what, the why and the when answered, but now comes the breakdown of practical steps on your path to success.
STEP 1: Considering the Overall Picture
First, think about your daily activities, not only at work, but at home and in your community. If at all possible, limit your working hours to a maximum of 40 – 50 hours a week. Working more than that you will likely end up not wanting to do the tasks set before you or resenting the process. Outline what you want your work/home life week to look like.
STEP 2: Breaking Goal One into Bite Size Pieces
Then, consider that first, priority goal and determine how you are going to reach that within a steady 40 – 50 hour work week, over the next 11-12 months. Break the goal down. Perhaps consider putting it into blocks or chapters of time. Remember it is better to move forward slowly and steadily than to sprint and burnout or not finish at all. As you chip away you finish the first block/chapter and then move onto the next. There are a variety of apps available to assist you with this process. Perhaps consider investing in one.
SMART Goal Tool
When I was part of a the YMCA-YWCA Self Employment program we were encouraged to do an exercise called SMART Goal setting. It is a widely used and effective tool for determining practical and purposeful goals as well as planning how to reach them. SMART is an acronym that stands for; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Limited. There are numerous websites that outline this process and give examples of how to write them.
Searching for the motivation to set a goal for your business? I hope the previous will help. By clarifying your goals and making them practical, purposeful and planned your business will thrive. Doing less will produce more. So why not start and set a goal today?