Setting new goals is part of running and growing a business, but how you set them can impact whether you achieve what you set out to do. Whether your aims are big or small, short or long term, use these four goal-setting tips to make progress toward success.
Set goals that are specific and that will be challenging.
When setting goals for your business, think about how to make them specific and challenging as opposed to vague and unrealistic.
If you want to expand, for example, don’t set a goal of “make more money” or “have 10 times as many clients this year.” The first is too easy, because making $1 more could count, while the second is difficult, and both goals are too vague. All three factors decrease the likelihood that you will follow through as planned.
Instead, think of your goal as a plan of action. Be as specific as possible about what you will do, when it will happen and how you will work toward it. Motivate yourself by aiming for achievements that are challenging but feel possible.
- I will have a blueprint for a new workshop written out by March, test it with my local Chamber of Commerce in April and start selling regionally in May.
- I will improve my media presence by signing up for HARO and responding to three to five queries per week.
- I will finish my e-book by March, send it to an editor in April and start selling it on my website by June.
- I will pitch three new clients every week until I have doubled my client load.
Research on goal-setting and task performance has found that 90 percent of the time, setting specific, challenging goals leads to a higher rate of success.
Have a support team.
We’re more likely to achieve our goals when we’re not forging ahead alone. Studies on achieving fitness goals found that supportive digital communities made participants more likely to succeed. Working toward your business goals in isolation, by contrast, lowers your accountability. It can also prevent you from taking advantage of others’ experiences and creative suggestions when you run into challenges.
If you have partners or employees in your business, tell them what goals you want to work toward for the year. Give everyone the same blueprint so they understand how their individual work fits into the big picture. Track the company’s progress and celebrate achievements to stay accountable.
If you’re a solo entrepreneur or freelancer, you can still create a support team. Talk to friends or loved ones about the goals you are working on, and ask them to hold you accountable. Join a community where you can share ideas with other business owners and support each other’s goals with feedback, advice and encouragement.
Choose goals you want to achieve.
When you own a business, it’s tempting to compare yourself to other business owners and think that you should be doing the same thing.
Another business opens franchises, so you think it’s time for you to pursue franchise opportunities as well. A colleague recently partnered with an investor, so you set a goal of landing new funding as well. One of your competitors is appearing on a lot of podcasts, so you look into podcast opportunities.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these goals if you want to appear on podcasts, franchise your business or work with investors. But if you are pursuing goals just because that’s what you see other business owners do, you will quickly lose motivation and get discouraged.
Instead, focus on what you want for your own business. Choose goals that you feel passionate about and genuinely want to achieve, rather than trying to check boxes that you don’t actually care about.
Finally, while you are taking concrete action toward your goals, take time to visualize what it will look like when you achieve them. This can have a surprisingly positive impact.
One study on the power of visualization found that people who performed physical exercises improved their muscle strength by 35 percent, but people who carried out “virtual workouts” in their heads improved their muscle strength by 13.5 percent. Being able to envision something can help make it actually happen.
That’s not to say that you don’t also have to put in the work to achieve your goals. If you visualize your goals in great detail, you are far more likely to stay motivated, pursue creative solutions and do the work necessary to achieve them.