Setting Business Goals – Do You?

Setting Your Business Goals — What are your business goals? Do you review these goals? WHAT?!?! You mean you don’t have any goals? You don’t review your goals? Shame on you! Are you trying to set yourself up for failure?

I was recently contacted by two different companies. Now, I should advise you that these are both start up companies, although one has years of business start-up experience.  One for help with a business plan. One for help with web development and marketing. Both of these calls (like every call), I inquired about goals. I got the same response when asked about the goals for their companies.

The Response: Make money, lots of it.

My Response: No shit. Are you serious? You are starting a business, I sure as hell hope you plan to make money. And if you are already in business you better be making money. But you aren’t setting business goals????

Setting business goals should be more than just making money. Your goal is what you hope to accomplish with your business. Your goals are detailed direction for the business. Your goals must be S.M.A.R.T. (please tell me you’ve heard of this acronym when it comes to setting goals – any goal!) Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely.

You should have more than one goal too. Goals based on revenue, growth, expansion, customer acquisitions, marketing. If your business does not have at least 5 goals both short-term and long-term, then you aren’t doing it right, and you are setting yourself up for failure. Sure, maybe you have been successful in your business for the last 10 years, with the only goal of making money. But that’s not going to last forever. Times change. Technologies change. Customers change. If you’re not changing with the times, then you’re not going to succeed. Period.

It’s a harsh reality, but would you hire an architect to build your house if his only goal was to make money? I don’t think so. You want the architect and contractor to have goals. Foundation built by this date. Roof added by this date. Completion by this date.

The same should be true with your business. For example: Achieve x% growth in y market by z date. It’s specific. It’s measurable. It’s attainable and realistic (well maybe depending on the values of x, y, z). It’s timely.

If you haven’t sat down to set business goals for the quarter, the year, the next 5 years. DO IT! Take the time (at home, at night, on the weekend), whenever you can (you don’t have to be sitting at your big fancy desk in your big fancy office to set your goals). Hell, write it on a napkin over beers with your partners. Just write it down.

After setting business goals (and that means write them down). Store them. Remember them. Refer to them. Check them. Are you on track to reach that quarterly revenue goal? Are you going to increase your customer referral business by x% within the year, like you set the goal for? Check them on a regular basis and revise them as you achieve them.

Setting business goals serve several purposes:
1) If you have your own marketing and sales team, they will know what they need to do to achieve success.
2) You will know that you are growing and succeeding.
3) They will help secure investor or bank financing when implemented within your business plan (to help you achieve growth).
4) If you contact a marketing firm to help you grow your business, they will know where to focus efforts. They will know how to measure their success. Your marketing firm is only as successful as you. If you don’t have a measurement for success, they won’t either.

Don’t just state the goal of your business is to make money, that’s obvious. That’s a no-brainer. That is the point of being in business. That isn’t your goal. Take time and really think about what you want to achieve. These goals will help you, your team, and your partners put a plan in action to achieve those goals. Think of it like a game of chess. You have a goal to win…but how are you going to achieve that goal. The same is true with your business. You want to succeed. But without a plan (aligned with your S.M.A.R.T goals), are you going to?