No matter what line of work you’re in, you need set goals to succeed. Do you know what you need to have finished by the end of the day? What do you need to have finished in six months? What does your five-year goal look like?
But here’s the thing about goals: we don’t instinctively know how to set them. Setting goals is a learned habit that we have to improve over time.
Without goals set in place, we lack focus and direction. Setting them, however, can seem like a daunting task. So, let’s tackle the steps we need to take to set and accomplish those goals.
1. FIND YOUR MAIN GOAL
Figure out what you want your main goal to be for the next few months. Do you want to hit a specific amount of sales per month? Or maybe reach a new monthly income?
Set one—and only one—main goal for yourself at a time. This may sound difficult, because you’re a small business and have so much on your plate. However, by deciding what your main goal is, you’re placing priority on the most important achievement that will push your business forward and deliver results.
Having one large goal to focus on also makes it easier for us to accomplish it. Our brains are only meant to focus on one thing at a time. Creating a list of multiple goals we need to achieve at once makes it difficult for us to focus on that one intention we should be striving for.
Make it a large yet specific goal that you can break down into smaller tasks. The goal you set should span over a few months’ time while also helping you work towards that big five- or 10-year goal.
2. DIVIDE IT INTO SMALLER CHUNKS
For example, if you want to build your email list, what are the steps you need to take? Research and delve into your goal to devise an actionable plan that you can work at daily. Slowly and consistently chipping away at a goal is one of the best ways to ensure you stay on track.
In addition, make sure that your goals are attainable. It’s great if you want to have a multi-million-dollar company, but don’t expect to build that in six months. Keep this simple rule in mind when you’re setting your goals:
If you think something will take you five hours to finish, then estimate 10.
Always overestimate how long something will take you to accomplish. We always tend to set quicker goals for ourselves in hopes of finishing them sooner‚ but that can actually turn out to be more harmful than beneficial.
If we can’t finish a task in the time we’ve allotted ourselves, then we suddenly feel like we’re behind. Soon, that panicky feeling sets in and we start to lose our momentum. So, do yourself a favor now by giving yourself some leeway. After all, things don’t always go as planned. By giving ourselves that extra time, we can stay within our schedule, feel less stressed, and conquer our goals.
3. KEEP YOUR GOAL VISIBLE AT ALL TIMES
As small business owners, there’s so much we’re in charge of every day to keep everything running smoothly: creating, invoicing, promoting, customer relations, and more. It is so easy to lose our focus in our small daily tasks that sometimes we actually forget our main goal!
Write down your goal in a place where you will see it every day. Having this in-your-face reminder is a perfect way to keep your tasks aligned to ensure you’re on track to meet your goal.
At the end of the day, look at your reminder and ask yourself: have I done something today that will push me towards my goal? You’ll be surprised how often that may have been pushed aside.
4. STICK WITH IT
Remind yourself that not everything will go as planned—and that’s okay. You may be bombarded with client work, or maybe there are some unforeseen expenses that require you to make some adjustments.
Often when we make a goal, we think everything will go smoothly. Instead, expect to hit obstacles along the way. This isn’t being pessimistic but rather preparing yourself for whatever obstacles may come your way. By being mentally prepared, you’ll be more motivated to tackle those inevitable hiccups that arise.
Learning how to set goals as a small business is essential to pushing your business forward. Goals shouldn’t just be set at the beginning of the year and forgotten. Stick to your goal by giving yourself ample time to achieve it and finding solutions to help you stay on course.
With enough strategic planning, patience, and determination, you’ll be well on your way to conquering all your goals.