Tip #4: Set Short-, Mid-, and Long-Term Goals and Objectives

To get where you want to go, you first must decide where that is, which is why you need goals and objectives for your business.  Sounds easy, right?  Not so fast.  According to Staples’ Annual National  Small Business Survey, a whopping 80% of small business owners surveyed said they don’t track their goals.  Is it any surprise that 77% admitted they’ve yet to achieve their vision for their business?  As I first heard the adage back in engineering school, “when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.”   Don’t spend so much time with the alligators that you lose track of what it is you really want to get done.  Having meaningful goals that you pay attention to is one way to keep that from happening.

Long-term business goals, those that generally take five years or more to reach, should be aligned with the vision and mission for your organization, and be consistent with your values (see Tip #1).  For purposes of this post, I’m assuming you’ve already got long-term goals in place, so the challenge here is to develop short (quarterly) and mid-range (semi-annual, or annual) goals that will keep you advancing toward your long-term goals.

Try the SMART system of goal setting:

Specific.  Make your goals detailed, not abstract like your longer-term goals might be.

Measurable.  How will you know once you’ve achieved them?  More sales?  Better timeliness in reporting?  Hitting budget?  Remember, “what gets measured, gets done.”

Action-oriented.  What steps have to be taken to achieve the goals?  Who will do those items?

Realistic.  Your goals should be challenging, yet achievable.  And make sure they don’t conflict with one another, which is part of the realistic determination.

Timely.  Set timelines for when specific actions will be completed.

Finally, put your goals in writing, framed in the positive – “I will lower the level of the swamp by 50% by the end of the month.”  To give yourself incentive to achieve your goals, tell somebody what they are.



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