On July 20, 1969, the U.S. space program put men on the moon. This was just a little over eight years after Alan Shepard became the first American to go into space and President Kennedy’s challenge to Congress (three weeks after Shepard’s flight) to put a man on the moon.
He said: “We choose to go to the Moon! ... We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills….”
Today, less than half a century later, public and private efforts are being directed toward human exploration of Mars. This idea of setting a seemingly impossible goal and then working toward it is exactly what small business owners do to varying degrees every day. It prompted me to think about refocusing on goal setting for business.
Why set goals?
One of my favorite quotations is from Walt Disney: “If you can dream it you can do it.”
Inc. magazine named him #2 on its list of the 11 most famous entrepreneurs. He’s also among the top entrepreneurs listed by Success, Investopedia, and Forbes. So, the importance of setting goals is having something to work toward. This requires organizing your time and resources in order to achieve them.
Goals are also measurements of progress. Your goal may be to achieve a set amount (units, revenue) in sales by a certain date. If you fall short of your goal, you then have an opportunity to analyze what went wrong to prevent you from meeting your target. Was it sales pitches? Pricing? Competition?
These are goals that can be accomplished within a short period, which may be defined as six months, one year, or two years. Short-term goals are characterized by immediate actions. Short-term goals are used to support efforts toward achieving long-term goals.
Examples of short-term goals include:
- Hiring a new employee
- Purchasing a new machine
- Gaining XXX followers on Facebook
For a short-term goal, set a target date, budget for the goal, and create a plan of action.
In contrast, long-term term goals may take years. In some cases, long-term goals are aspirational in nature (such as becoming a household name or an industry leader).
Examples of long-term goals include:
- Achieving revenue of XXX within five years
- Expanding to a second location in three years
- Franchising the business concept
- Getting the company ready to be sold
In 2010, Staples surveyed small business owners about their goals and found that 80% don’t keep track of their goals. If you don’t have goals, then what you achieve is happenstance, and I’d venture to say, less than is possible if you set goals and monitor them regularly. Incorporate goal setting and progress analysis into your regular business routine, and see what you can achieve!