I Just Started My Business, Now What? Here’s How To Set Goals That Produce Long-Term Profits

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When you first start your business, there’s no limit to the future you can imagine for your company. That excitement can also turn into an overwhelming paralysis, with so many options, directions, and decisions ahead. Here’s how brand new entrepreneurs can set goals that will chart a clear and profitable path.

How to Know if You’re Setting the Right Goals for Your Business

Setting goals for your business is really the only way to turn your dreams and visions into a living, breathing reality. But, there’s a certain strategy to setting the right goals and achieving them along the way.

Why are goals so important? How do you know if they’re the right ones for your business?

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Entrepreneurs need goals to keep moving forward, stay motivated, and measure and maintain their business’s success. Without them, you’re just sort of sitting around, being an entrepreneur in theory, but not really making any progress. Goals play an integral role in every sector of business, from foundation, to marketing, to scaling and succession planning.

Goals are like maps, without (at least) one, you’re lost. Literally. No goals means no direction.

The Secret to Strong Goals

Goals are also like clothes. To be prepared for the future, you need to be thoughtful and decisive about what you put on. You can’t throw just anything together and walk out the door.

Well, you can but you might look like this:

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You also can’t go out the door without any. Typically, some thought is put into outfits and style choices, at least ensuring that items match and meet the needs and identity of the person wearing them.

The same goes for goals. You can’t toss together objectives and dreams for the sake of getting out the door and onto the next task. Goal-setting involves strategy, vision, and decision-making. You can’t be hasty with your goals, or you’ll end up mismatched and messy. Or, to take this metaphor to its outer limits, you’ll have to stop everything, run back to the house, and start over.

So, what’s the secret to strong, strategic goals?

First, strong goals are specific. You have a much better chance of achieving a goal if you know exactly what you’re aiming at. For example, instead of setting a goal to “raise capital,” try aiming for “raising $50,000 by December 31.”

Second, strong goals follow the MAC Daddy method. (Don’t laugh; I promise this acronym means something.) MAC stands for Measurable, Actionable, and Competent, and speaks to a massive goal-setting study conducted in 2011.

  • Measurable goals set a clear-cut endgame and are able to be clearly tracked
  • Actionable goals include action verbs and lay out intended activity on your part
  • Competent goals ensure that the outcome aligns with both your business and your mission

Perfect goals entwine all three. Here’s a good example:

Instead of vowing to, “Reach my target audience by marketing on Instagram,” a MAC Daddy goal would be, “Hire a social media agency by the end of the month to add 10,000 new followers and pitch three ad campaigns to run in November.” This goal is measurable (given the time restraints and follower count), actionable (by the action verbs and clear activity), and competent (assuming Instagram and social media fall within your vision and budget).

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Finally, strong goals incorporate both an outcome and a process required to arrive at that outcome. When making goals, most people set an intention and scramble their way towards it. But, what if you don’t know how or aren’t equipped to reach that goal? Well, you’ve failed before you’ve even begun.

The science behind this process comes from a study by educational researcher Barry Zimmerman. In this study, Zimmerman challenged three sets of students to a game of darts. Group #1 was asked to jump right in and shoot (literally) for the highest score. Group #2 was asked to perfect their dart-throwing skills by optimizing their hand position, form, and aim. Group #3 was initially asked to perfect their skills, but upon mastery switch to focusing on their scores.

Can you guess which group did best overall? It was Group #3, the process and outcome group, even though they weren’t actually playing darts as long as Group #1. In fact, Group #1 did worst overall. In other words, focusing initially on how you’re going to achieve something before getting started yields better results.

Strong goals involve both an outcome and a process. Using our prior example, setting an outcome of “raising $50,000 by December 31” could involve a process of “hiring a venture capitalist consultant, meeting with three investors per month, and constantly improving your business pitch.”

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Why Entrepreneurship is Impossible Without Good Goals

Goals are particularly important for small businesses. You see, we’re the rowboats amongst the aircraft carriers. The yachts alongside cruise ships. Our battle, albeit passionate, is an uphill one. Without a map, we’re sure to get lost in the tides.

Thankfully, goals, if set correctly, can serve as a steady compass even in the strongest storm. While corporations and big organizations have seemingly unending resources, entrepreneurs are required to be scrappy and stay focused. Setting goals can help you do so, and when the going gets tough, can work on your behalf to carry your business forward.

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According to a 2010 study conducted by Staples, 77% of small business owners said they have yet to achieve their dreams and visions for their company. In that same study, more than 80% of small business owners admitted to not setting, monitoring, or enlisting accountability for their goals.

Goals are crucial for entrepreneurs. Set them before moving forward in your business, and if you started without them, hit pause and regroup.

Starting Strong: How To Set Good Goals From The Beginning

And you’re off!

You’ve pushed away from the dock. You are officially a small business owner. Or, at least, you’ve decided to become one. Woohoo!

As the excitement calms, you may feel overwhelmed. You may also feel tempted to simply charge forward full speed ahead. While that scrappy, take-it-as-it-comes attitude will help you in the day-to-day of entrepreneurship, it’s no way to conduct business long-term.

Start strong by setting goals. Here’s how:

Set Long-Term Aims and Short-Term Objectives

Where do you see yourself in five years?

What would you do if money (or other people’s opinions) weren’t an issue?

These questions are cliche, but they hold value. Stop right now and answer them for yourself. Hint: There’s no right answer.

I’ll participate, too. In five years, I see my personal business sprawled across the major cities in my area, catering to women (my target demographic) across the state. If money or other people’s opinions weren’t an issue, I’d grow my business, hire an awesome management team, and then promptly move across the world and help empower women to start their own entrepreneurial ventures.

Well, this just got deep.

It also established a direction. By transcribing those two sentences, I not only understand what the future could hold, but I recognize steps that I can take for my business today.

If you take only one thing away from this article, it should be this: Long-term aims dictate short-term goals. It may sound exhausting, but each move you make in the present should be in the pursuit of where you want to be in the future.

It’s difficult to look at time through that lens, so think back to where you were a year ago. What small decisions, conversations, moves, purchases, or investments did you make that led you to where you are today? Were they intentional in getting you to the present? If not, think about how much more powerful those actions would be if they were intentionally made.

Long-term goals should have a timeline of three to five years. If they seem attainable any sooner than that, then you’re cutting yourself short. Long-term goals should seem nearly impossible; that way, you know you’re really challenging yourself and your business. While jotting these down, don’t forget to incorporate the strong goal-setting strategy we discussed above.

Tony Robbins, entrepreneur extraordinaire, once said, “Goals are like magnets. They’ll attract the things that make them come true.” That’s how long-term aims and short-term objectives connect. Once you understand where you want to be in three to five years, the things that need to be done today in order to get there will begin to take shape before you.

Let’s look at an example of how to break a long-term goal down into short-term objectives. Let’s say that, in three years, you’d love your blog to see 500,000 visitors per month. Working backwards, here’s what some short-term objectives may look like:

  • First, you could focus on consistently creating content for your blog. Your weekly goal could be, “Write one blog post and share across all social media channels.”
  • Second, you could focus on guest blogging to increase exposure. Your weekly goal could be, “Contact five guest outlets and engage with target publications and editors over social media.”
  • Third, you could focus on creating lead magnets and content offers to expand and build relationships with your email list. Your monthly goal could be, “Create one content offer and send out valuable newsletter to email list.”

Note that even these weekly objectives follow the rules of strong goals we discussed above. All in all, short-term objectives help you achieve your long-term visions at the most fundamental level. And when the winds pick up, and the water becomes rough, you’ll know that your rowboat can weather the storm, as long as you have your trusty compass.

Your Mission, Not Just Money, Must Determine Your Goals

Profits are important. Money is the fuel of your business. But it’s not the lifeblood. Profits without passion are dull, lifeless. The aircraft carriers may tower over your rowboat, but they can never achieve the passion, singularity, and spunk that you bring to the table (er, water).

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There’s also a lot more involved in attaining success than revenue targets and percentage increases.

When creating goals for your small business, make sure that you regularly return to the heart of why you’re embarking on your entrepreneurial journey. When you consider the “why,” your goals will take on a whole different meaning and energy. Building them around your passion and mission statement will help create true goals that don’t feel forced.

Setting profits aside, the types of goals you set can fall in three general areas: service, social, and growth.

Service-based goals pertain to improving customer service or customer retention.

Socially-based goals focus on interacting with and giving back to the community.

Growth-based goals refer to scaling your company, possibly through outsourcing or hiring.

For example, let’s use my business to try these goals on for fit.

For a service-based goal, I’d say: “To create a comprehensive service guide to ease client experience and help retain customers.” A socially-based goal could be: “To build a long-term partnership with a local women’s home.” And a growth-based goal would look like: “To hire two permanent team members to take over space planning and PR.”

Considering these numberless goals can help you stay in sync with your “why” and continue to grow your business beyond your bank account.

When starting a business, there is a LOT to do. Saving time is vital! So, here are 60 epic tools that Foundr and some of the world’s top entrepreneurs use right now.

Click Here To Download Our Free “Ultimate Entrepreneurial Tools Guide” Now!

Align Your Personal Goals With Your Business Goals

One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is having complete control of your work/life balance. Want to take a road trip mid-week or travel for six months? Done.

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As you work on your business goals, don’t discount your personal goals. Your business is your life, and your life is your business. If you plan to scale and run your business for a long time, your personal and business goals should be in sync.

If you do want to travel around the world for six months, set your business goals to complement that. Aim to increase revenue and tighten operations so that you can run your business from the road, or look into outsourcing or hiring employees to run your business while you’re on the road.

For another example, take my long-term goal from above. In the future, I’d like to grow my business to the point of hiring an excellent management team, and I’d love to promptly move across the world and help empower women to start their own entrepreneurial ventures. See how my business and personal goals fuel each other?

Take a second to appreciate the beauty that is entrepreneurship. Your future is solely in your hands. Don’t let your personal dreams fall by the wayside while you work on growing your business. If you set your goals correctly, both will align.

At the same time, as a business owner and entrepreneur, consider how you are looking to improve and grow? You have just as much responsibility in scaling yourself as you do your business.

Are there any soft or specialized skills you’ve been craving to improve? Maybe you realize you could be using your time more efficiently or that you need to improve your negotiating skills. If you set these as goals, be as specific as possible. Otherwise, you may be tempted to scratch them off or give up. The outcome and process method is also useful in these circumstances. For example, instead of setting your outcome as “improve organization skills,” determine your process, too: “Take an online course on organizational skills and secure an accountability partner.”

As we said before, you have a much better chance of achieving a goal if you know precisely what you’re aiming for.

Leave Room for Change and Imperfection

Remember that scrappy, take-it-as-it-comes attitude I referred to earlier? Here’s where that will come in handy.

While goals are necessary to keep moving forward, stay motivated, and measure and maintain a business’s success, the truth is that very few things happen the way we expect them to. As entrepreneurs, it’s crucial to be flexible, resilient, and quick-thinking, all without losing momentum.

It’s important to be clear and concise with your business goals, but goal-setting does not mean rigidity and close-minded thinking. Agility is just as valuable as tenacity. The quicker you can pivot and then return to your course, the easier your ship will weather the storm and the stronger you and your business will become.

For example, as an event-based business, my success and profits hinge upon a critical three days. As you can imagine, many things could go wrong, and more likely than not, they usually do. From weather, to injury, to Wi-Fi issues and theft, I’ve (sadly) seen it all. And while I’ve dutifully held to my long-term goals of holding an event twice a year and working as hard as I can to rake in revenue, it’s been my agility and fast footwork that’s ensured my day-to-day success at these events.

But, as agile as I am, I’m just as much a perfectionist. And while that may have made me a good student, it makes me a very, very bad entrepreneur.

A huge challenge many business owners face while goal-setting (and goal-keeping) is the desire to do everything correctly, each step of the way, to ensure that they’re on the right track at all times. Well, this very idea of perfection can hold you back and prevent you from making progress.

When it comes to goals, progress outmaneuvers mistakes. It’s more important to keep pushing forward than waiting for perfection or fearing a mistake. If you don’t know this as an entrepreneur, you will soon enough: Mistakes provide a powerful learning experience. In fact, mistakes can be a better teacher than a webinar or book. (Gasp!) Truthfully, messing up can not only open your eyes to new ideas, but they can also teach you valuable lessons about yourself.

Re-Evaluate Often, With Accountability

If you’ve bitten the bullet and set long-term goals for your business, I’m here to tell you that the hard work doesn’t stop there (sorry, not sorry).

Part of the goal-setting process involves continuously monitoring, reevaluating, and potentially changing your goals as you work to achieve them. Only when you monitor and measure your progress will you truly know that you’re working toward your goals.

Commit to reviewing your goals by conducting weekly or monthly check-ins. At the beginning of each week, read back over those long-term goals and consider what you could do that week to inch closer to achieving them. Working to raise $50,000 in capital by the end of the year? Evaluate your progress by examining the investors you’ve pitched and looking over feedback on your presentation; set objectives for the week by tweaking your pitch and calling new investment firms.

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Each month, conduct more in-depth reviews by analyzing the relevance and competence of your long-term goals. Are they still achievable, given activity in your business, your target audience, and the marketplace? Are you still competent to achieve them, given the current status of your family or home environment? These questions are important to ask. Markets, trends, people, and lifestyles change. Take the time to evaluate these before blindly plowing ahead towards your goals.

To ensure that you stay on track, secure accountability in the form of a business partner, mentor, friend, or an outside consultant or coach. When chasing goals, the secret to every entrepreneur’s success is accountability. Securing a support system can help you stay motivated, teach you new lessons, cheer you on when you face challenges, provide a perspective different than your own, and celebrate your successes with you. Achieving a goal is an incredible moment, but celebrating that achievement alongside others is even sweeter.

When starting a business, there is a LOT to do. Saving time is vital! So, here are 60 epic tools that Foundr and some of the world’s top entrepreneurs use right now.

Click Here To Download Our Free “Ultimate Entrepreneurial Tools Guide” Now!

Conclusion

Starting a business is an exciting and scary mission. While capital, employees, and education can all serve as ample tools, you can only fully equip yourself and your business by setting goals. Only then will you turn your vision into a reality.

Goals not only determine direction, but they also define success. Achieve the success you desire in five to ten years by setting goals today.

What kind of goals have you set for yourself and your business? Have you encountered any hiccups that have caused you to change your course? Tell us in the comments below!

  • http://motivated2inspire.com/ Sija Ntando Mafu

    Thanks for sharing. That’s a really in depth analysis of goal setting

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