Starting a business comes with a bottomless to-do list. Organise your tasks and priorities, and keep your entrepreneurial venture on track by setting realistic and measurable goals. Here’s how.
Not taking some time out from working in your business to work on your business could hurt you in the long run by slowing your growth or allowing you to deviate from your initial plan and vision for your business.
Setting goals is key for a sustainable business. Without them you won’t be able to monitor your company’s progress or track whether or not you are heading in the right direction. But the trick is to set goals that are relevant and attainable, and to constantly remind yourself of these goals. Write them down, put them somewhere you’ll see them every day and revisit them regularly.
One of the most common models used for goal-setting is SMART goals, which stands for:
S – Specific
Be as clear, detailed and specific as you can with your goals. Answer the what, why, how, when and who.
M – Measurable
How will you measure your progress? Is there a financial target you’re working towards? Perhaps a number of new locations to open, customers to onboard, products to launch, employees to hire, etc.
A – Achievable
Goals are not wishes or dreams. They should realistically be within your reach. Think about what it would take to reach your goal and what steps you need to take to get there.
R – Relevant
Do your goals align with your business objectives and will reaching them strengthen or grow your business?
T – Time-based
Deadlines are a great motivator. It is easy to get distracted by day-to-day activities and lose sight of the bigger picture or put off things that aren’t urgent, but if you set a timeframe to achieve your goal, your chances of realising that goal are much higher.
What goals should you be setting?
If you’re not sure where to start with goals for your business, here’s another acronym to help: SWOT. It stands for:
Strengths: What’s working really well in your business?
Weaknesses: Where are you struggling, losing clients, losing money, etc.?
Opportunities: What is happening in the market, with your suppliers, products or other factors that could boost your business growth?
Threats: What could put pressure on or challenge your business? (For example, competitors, slow demand, price increases, etc.)
Doing this exercise will help you identify the areas of your business that need attention and what you could use to expand on what you’ve already built.
If you’re still stuck, here are 10 ideas to inspire goals that will help your business. Remember to apply the SMART model to frame them for your business:
1. Reduce ongoing business expenses
2. Start using (or increase the use of) social media marketing for your business
3. Revamp your business plan
4. Enhance your customer service
5. Tell your business or brand story
6. Learn a new skill that will be useful in running your business
7. Find a mentor or entrepreneur network
8. Develop a new product or service
9. Open up an investment account
10. Make time to look after your physical and mental health
MORE HELP FOR ENTREPRENEURS:
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- How to choose and register a name for your business
- 10 things every new business owner should know about tax
- Why your business needs a website – and how to get one
- The number 1 reason most start-ups fail – and how to avoid it
- When to ditch your day job and launch your own business
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- Your own business: How to make your first sale
- Your own business: Hiring your first employee
- Your business: How to pay yourself, while keeping company expenses separate
- Five ways to increase the profit margin of your business