How to set effective goals for your small business: Five top tips

How to set effective goals for your small business: Five top tips

Posted: Tue 18th Feb 2020

You're probably familiar with the concept of goals and goal-setting. It's pretty clear why people set goals – if you know where you're going, you're more likely to get there. It gives you clarity and helps you focus. And yet, for various reasons, you might not always achieve your ambitions.

Sometimes the reason is that you're not setting your business goals in the most powerful and empowering way. But if you follow the five tips below, you'll have a much higher chance of achieving those outcomes you desire.

1. Emotional connection

It may seem strange to talk about feelings in the context of business. But if you're not excited about a goal, you're much less likely to achieve it. Whether you like it or not, humans are emotional rather than rational beings and you simply have to use your rational part of the brain to trick the emotional part into doing what has to be done.

If you don't feel excited about a goal, think about the emotion that achieving this goal will create, the way you'll feel about yourself. Think about what the achieved goal will give you and what will become possible once you reach the goal.

It's also important to connect a smaller goal to the bigger "why", your company's purpose or mission statement, since chances are that the business mission resonates with you emotionally (if not, we need to talk).

2. Clarity and focus

It's important to have a specific idea of what you want to achieve. If the goal is vague, you won't know if you're getting closer. You should be able to know once you get there, so it's great if it's something you can measure.

Sometimes business goals seem to sit on a sliding scale. So we say "I will earn more from my workshops" or "I will have fewer lost leads". This isn't too helpful, as you selling one extra ticket to a workshop technically counts as more. Instead, have a specific target.

If you don't create a measurable goal – "to be a great boss", for example – think about ways that will signal to you that you're getting there, such as feedback from your team.

3. Strong expression

The words you use matter greatly. When you write down or say your goal, make sure you use phrases such as "I will" or "we will" rather than "will try" or "would like to".

Make sure you express the goal in positive rather than negative terms. For example, instead of saying "I won't work with clients who are disrespectful", say "I'll only work with clients who are respectful."

If you're clear about your goal, you should easily remember and express it in a sentence. Practise saying it out loud with conviction.

4. Systems

Some say that habits beat goals. Really, it's not one of the other, but both. Once you have a clear goal that you're emotionally connected to, it's time to come up with a plan. I don't mean creating a new Trello board (although you can if you want to), but simply coming up with some regular routines that will get you to your goal.

While the overarching goal may not be fully in your control (such as "10 new clients this month"), your habits and routines are something you can control ("make two calls every morning at 9:30 am"). You don't need to worry about the big goal as long as you stick to your small and regular steps.

When you think of daily or weekly habits, think about making this process enjoyable for yourself and you'll be more likely to stick to it.

5. Commitment and accountability

Finally, you have to make a commitment. If there is a way to take the first step immediately, do it. For example, if your aim is to have three public-speaking engagements, send a few emails now asking about opportunities, before you start doubting yourself.

We're social beings who want to look good in front of our peers. So the best way to make sure you do something is to tell someone you really respect and don't want to disappoint.

Another way is to create an accountability system, which could be with a peer group, a mentor or a business coach. Someone who you trust to give you a kick if you lose your enthusiasm and remind you why this goal is important to you.

Relevant resources

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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