Every business should have goals that provide motivation to drive the venture forward and offer benchmarks of success.
No matter which stage of the business life cycle you have reached, goal setting is an important activity that shouldn't be overlooked in the day to day running an enterprise. It does however require time for thought and reflection, so schedule an hour or two to revisit where your business is heading and where you would like it to go.
No business can afford to simply coast along. In today's competitive commercial world, you need to plan for the future so that you continue to maintain a competitive edge. This is where goals come in.
Start planning your goals by determining in what you would like to accomplish over different time frames – the short-, medium- and long-term. Don't limit your thinking at this stage by assuming some things are impossible. Be flexible with your boundaries because many of the world's largest businesses where once small ventures with big dreams.
Refine the possibilities
Next, take a look at the goals you have broadly set for each timeframe – say, one year from now, five years and ten years, and refine them. In other words, be specific.
Rather than write a goal like, “I want to grow revenue”, develop a quantifiable target such as ‘I want to grow revenue by 50% next year, and then by 25% each subsequent years”.
Or, instead of writing, “I want to have a team of employees”, think about just how many staff you need to achieve other goals and when you'll need staff to join your team. For example, a more specific goal may be “In Year one I will need to hire an office manager, and by Year 2 I will need a junior loan officer”.
Being clear about your goals makes targets so much more achievable and will prevent your business from limping along, unable to achieve vague targets.
Develop an action plan
Without affirmative action, your goals may never become a reality. So alongside each goal set out bullet points of what you need to do to achieve that goal.
For instance, to grow revenue by 50% in the first year, you may need to:
- Expand marketing activities
- Grow referral partners
- Offer customer incentives.
If at this stage, some goals are looking unattainable, try making them more realistic. If revenue growth of 50% was ambitious, could you realistically nail 30% growth?
Follow SMART goal setting
By this stage you should have a clear idea of what you can achieve and what needs to happen to reach each goal. It can help to follow ‘SMART' goal-setting principles - making sure goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. It's a way of auditing your goals and turning them into actionable steps that you have broken down into bite-sized chunks.
Share your goals
With your goals firmly taking shape, the next step is to set them out in a formal document. Use this to share your goals with staff and equity partners. Be prepared to take on their feedback. This allows your employees and other stakeholders to have ownership in your business goals.
Finally, track your progress towards each goal. With a healthy dose of ambition and commitment, you should be prepared to tackle each goal one by one, day by day. Remember, not achieving a goal isn't necessarily a sign of failure. Rather it's an opportunity to finesse your plans based on the clearer picture you have of your business.
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