Entrepreneurs are set apart from the rest of the population for one key reason: they have achieved the goal of owning their own business. Founding a company is one objective, and a sincere congratulations if you’ve gotten that far — you should be proud of your initiative and success. But most know the work does not stop there. There’s no such thing as cruise control once your business is rolling, so you will only need to get better at setting and reaching goals.
If there’s anything I’m obsessive about, this may be it. I set goals every day and consistently advocate that others do the same.
Here are a few pieces of advice that entrepreneurs and small business owners can take in order to set goals more effectively, follow through, and ultimately develop themselves and their businesses.
1. Dreams fuel destination: align your goals with with passions
Since I was very young, I had a dream: to be my own boss. A little later, when I had a firmer grasp on my professional needs I also decided that I wanted to own real estate. Of course neither of these goals were easy to achieve on their own, but my passion for financial independence was what eventually drove me to make them possible.
A goal without passion is like a paper plane without velocity. No matter how well-designed or aerodynamic, passion is the most effective motivator you’ll come across, and the one that will get you moving. More so than money. And far more than fear, despite misconceptions.
So align your goals with the dreams and desires that give you life. Not all of it will be fun, but if the foundation you laid your plans on brings you joy, what could be onerous will be infused with at least some excitement.
2. To-do lists are your friend: make them and stick to them
Professional goals obviously differ from personal goals in many meaningful ways. But the idea, here, is that goals need to be detailed and well-recorded if you want to have a real chance at achieving them. That’s why I love creating lists and striking items off one by one. By diligently tracking everything I want to achieve, my chances of actually taking care of each thing in a timely manner increase. I’m not going to pretend I never had the idea to begin with if it’s a fully-formed plan in written form.
3. Think micro and macro: goal-set annually, weekly, and daily
For businesses, the big picture is just as important as the day-to-day, if not more so. It’s important that entrepreneurs think macro and micro when setting goals for their companies and meeting them. One without the other is just not good enough.
I already mentioned that I like to goal-set every day by writing lists. That’s the micro: I list daily goals in order to prioritize the items on my plate and keep a strong record of what I’m up to. I also set weekly goals, which while still micro, allows for the completion of larger tasks as opposed to everyday busywork.
On the macro end of the spectrum are annual and quarterly goals. For your business, this type of goal-setting is essential because it ensures you are doing everything you can to grow. Know where you want to be at certain milestones and create a roadmap to get there.
4. You’re not alone: equip your team to achieve goals too
Last but not least, no small business owner is an island. There are certain tasks that are yours alone, certainly, but you will need the help of your team to turn larger-scale objectives into realities. And don’t expect this to happen on its own: as a leader, you will be expected to set goals for employees and equip them with the resources they need to meet them. These resources may include time, skills, and budget, all of which you must consider and allot realistically.
Transparency and motivation are key here as well. If you’re clear about your vision and your passion and are able to create incentives to motivate your employees to move the needle, you’ll be in a good position to reach goals large and small.