The absolute FIRST step when starting a successful business is establishing goals and I am not just talking about financial goals. Money is important, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
The whole point of having your own business is to have complete ownership, right? To have freedom. To have the lifestyle that YOU want. Not be constrained by someone else’s structure… You need to be here by 9. Stay until 6. Oh, you need to go to the doctor? Do it on your own time. You only get two weeks vacation. Bleh!
Goals = Freedom, No Goals = Disaster
Guess what? Goals are THE thing that will enable you to create a business that gives you complete ownership. That gives you freedom and business that YOU want. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but first let’s get real.
One of the BIGGEST mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is they give little-to-no attention to goal-setting before they start their business. In essence, their goal is ‘I want to start a business.’ Nice, but it’s not nearly enough.
I’ve seen women jump in head first and then wonder why their business ‘isn’t all they hoped for’ or why it has taken over their life.
My question in reply: What were the goals you set for your business? When I get no response I know they’ve achieved exactly what they created – a business without direction, which leads to chaos, frustration, disappointment and failure.
The craziest thing of all? Goals are EASY to set. You just have to make the time to think them through and establish them. Goal-setting should be Task #1 on your business plan.
Goals Are the GPS of Your Business
Goal-setting: The process of deciding what you want to accomplish and devising a plan to achieve the result you desire.
What You Want to Accomplish: You need to determine WHY you want to have your own business and WHAT you need your business to be and do for you. It’s great to want to have a business, but you need to understand its purpose in your life. You need to set expectations.
Devising A Plan: Once you know your business’s purpose and you’ve established measurable expectations you can begin to layout a concrete plan. What needs to happen, step-by-step, to make sure your business gets where it needs to go.
Achieve the Result: Once you have a plan, based on your specific goals, you now have a measure stick to monitor everything. You can review your plan regularly and see where it’s stacking up against expectations. You can tweak and adjust as needed if you’re not quite meeting goals. You can raise the bar if you’re exceeding them.
So, if you want to set yourself up for success set your goals BEFORE you start planning your business. Your goals should DRIVE your business from the business model you choose to the products you create, your pricing and customers.
If you’re not establishing goals before you design your business you’re practicing what I like to call the ‘Spaghetti Model.’ This is the business model where you keeping throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall, cross your fingers and hope it all works out for the best.
Don’t do that. 🙂 Spaghetti is super hard to get off the walls…
How Do You Set Goals? Which Goals Must You Set?
Setting goals is as simple as getting real and answering questions about each of the 5 critical goals you need to set.
Let’s take a look at all of them:
Money: Okay, we’ll start with this one since it’s usually the first goal that comes to mind. Just saying ‘I want to make money’ doesn’t cut it. You need to set several ‘money’ goals.
- How much money do you WANT to make?
- How much money do you NEED to make?
- How LONG you have before you need to turn a profit (not just make money)?
- How much money do you have to INVEST in your business?
- WHERE is money to invest in your business going to come from? Self-funding, borrowing, credit cards, or other?
Lifestyle / Location Goals: The greatest perk of starting your own business is getting to set it up to work WITH your lifestyle, not against it.
- Do you have life events to account for? Kids leaving home? Retiring spouse? Caring for an aging parent?
- What other commitments do you have in your life? Do you volunteer in the community? Are you participating in something? Do you have a job currently that you plan to keep?
- Do you have known plans to consider? You’ve booked an around-the-world trip to celebrate the big birthday? You’ve planned to sell the house and downsize? What are you planning to do that you need to keep in mind?
- Do you want to be location independent, or would an on-ground business (brick and mortar) be okay?
- How much do you want to work?
- How much time can you work?
- Do you want / need your business to be part-time, full-time or seasonal?
- How much time do you have to devote to learning (lots of learning curves with a new business – they need to be accounted for).
- How long do you envision being in business?
- Would you eventually like to sell your business, hand it over to someone or shut it down?
- Do you envision hiring employees eventually, or are you designing a solo-preneurship operation (you can still outsource activities)?
Let me be the first to say there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. But, it’s critically important to think them through, be realistic and get your goals on paper. They will, in fact, be the basis for the WHAT, WHY and HOW of your business. Once you’ve established your goals your business model will lay itself out.
You may also not have concrete answers to every question just yet. For these questions keep them on your radar and re-visit them often. Answer them as soon as you can. Also, keep in mind, some of these goals (money, lifestyle and time commitment) are non-negotiable. These goals MUST be established before you take the first step.
At our stage in life, we’re no strangers to setting goals. We’ve been setting them our entire lives. I want to to learn to drive a car. I want to get a job. I want to get married. Have a family.
So, when taking one of the biggest (and most amazing) steps in your life – starting a business – be sure to take the time to establish goals. It will mean the difference between success and failure.
Just imagine one year from now. It’s nearing the end of 2018 and you’re sitting down to ‘review your business’. Imagine how fantastic it will be to be able to check off all of the goals you set, planned for and achieved.
That will be worthy of a glass of bubbly for sure.