It’s not enough for a business to stay stable. It has to grow to survive. Once something stays at “status quo” too long, it starts diminishing and eventually dying. This is why it’s extremely important to set goals for your business. This includes goals for your customer satisfaction reports, revenues, profits, loss prevention and anything else that can be measured numerically.
Here are some ways to help make sure you hit your goals continuously.
1. Know your target
The last thing you want to do is set your goals like most people make their New Year’s resolutions.
“I am going to try to lose weight.”
“I am going to go to the gym more.”
“I’m going to quit smoking…for good this time!”
The reason why resolutions like this fail is not because people are lazy, as much as they are not setting crystallized goals. For your business, you want to avoid vague objectives like “I will raise our revenues,” or “I will cut inventory losses.”
Instead, make a goal like “I will raise our revenue by $5,000 per month,” or “I will cut monthly shoplifting losses by 20 percent by next year.”
Now the goal is crystallized, so you’ll at least know if you hit it or you don’t. It also makes it more “real,” so you can envision it happening.
2. Set up action steps
Tony Robbins had a great point in his “Personal Power” set where he said, “Never leave the sight of a goal without taking a step towards its achievement.” As helpful as it is to visualize your achievements and pump yourself up with motivation, you will need to take some action to make your goal happen. In business, a lot of these action steps come down to, “Should I do this myself, delegate it or hire it out?”
You may have to hire a consultant, and that’s perfectly fine. If you run a retail chain, you may be amazed, and almost disappointed, to find out that your 20 percent reduction in shoplifting is completed after a $250 consultation with a former Target loss prevention specialist. He might tell you if you lock your side door and only have one entrance, the thieves will go somewhere else.
“That was it?” you might ask yourself. Some goals will come way easier than you expected, simply by taking action.
For other things, you may need a longer set of action steps. For raising revenues, you might decide to invest in greater sales training for your associates or set up perks for meeting quotas. Maybe the first three things you try won’t work, and that’s fine. You don’t need to have everything from Point A to Point Z lined up—it’s actually better that you don’t. If you were psychic enough to foresee every result, you probably wouldn’t have this problem in the first place. It’s fine to just have a basic outline and initial steps planned out. As you go along the path, new opportunities will arise that may be far better than your original plan.
3. Keep score
Documenting everything is a huge part of reaching your goals. In fact, a lot of things get improved by keeping track of them, even if you don’t have a goal set up and take no other action. A secret of the fitness industry is that simply writing down what you eat results in bodyfat loss even if you don’t change your diet or exercise more.
It’s the same with watching your revenues and expenses. The act of mere observation can have a stunning effect. When you have a goal set, plus regular observation, you have everything you need to progressively move up the ladder into excellence. Sometimes staring at the balance sheet is difficult if things aren’t improving. This is why it’s important not to beat yourself up, but instead be patient and continue to take the proper actions towards your goal’s achievement.
4. Keep your eye on the prize
There are a number of motivational tactics to keep you focused on your goals and attainment of them. One way to do this is to keep up a poster in your office with the goal in big letters. This is a constant reminder to everyone for what they’re shooting for. This also helps with accountability. Some small business owners I know actually post their goals on their Facebook or LinkedIn accounts so they’ll feel compelled to not embarrass themselves. Of course, this is by no means appropriate for every business. Confidentiality and professionalism still heavily apply to most firms, but for solo entrepreneurs, affiliates and Internet marketers, there is clearly a lessening of both in the social media age.
Another tool very popular with star entrepreneurs is visualization. What you do is find a quiet place and take 20-30 minutes a day and see yourself with the goal already achieved. You feel the emotions you would have if you had already accomplished your plan. If it helps, you can do affirmations, such as “I am so happy and grateful that my business makes _____ every month.”
What’s important is not the actual way of doing this, but how you feel about your goal from whatever personal practice you take. You want to feel pumped for action, as well as a calm, knowing sense that your goal is in the bag and that it’s only a matter of time before you see it on paper.
The art of active goal setting can change as your business grows, but it never disappears. In fact, if you look at the corporate investor reports for Fortune 500 companies, you’ll see that it’s all about goals. Investors are always on their backs for growth, so a CEO will never say, “Things are pretty good so we’ll just try to maintain the current cash-flow.” Wherever you are in business, start setting and achieving goals and you’ll find yourself in a much better place next year.