Setting goals is one of the most important things you can do, both for yourself as an individual and for your business.

It’s all too easy to fall into the habit of trying to survive day to day and not think about the future or plan for it. This is especially common in the startup world as making enough money to keep afloat is the main priority for many business owners in the early stages. Unfortunately, many don’t change their outlook despite their company growth, and this is not a good mindset to get stuck in.

You want to be focusing on what you’ve accomplished to date and set yourself goals going forward. What do you want to achieve over the coming months or within the next year? When setting goals, it’s important to not fear them, as in all honesty, there is no downside to having them. They help you to set out where you see the business going, improve productivity and business performance and engage and motivate a team. If you hit all your goals then that’s fantastic, but if you don’t, you are likely to benefit from having tried and you can always re-assess, edit and set more.

It is also important to not just set your goals around revenue, as there are many other aspects of running a business that need attention and work. Perhaps your goals could relate to the products or services on offer, employee satisfaction or innovation; anything to enhance your business.

So, where do you start when it comes to setting goals?

The most important thing to remember when it comes to goal setting is that any goal you set should be SMART; specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-constrained. This may take a little time to wrap your head around, but makes total sense when planning for the future, and here’s why:

Specific – Your goals should be clear and well defined. If your goal is too broad of a statement, such as ‘increase revenue’, it won’t give you much to work with. ‘Learn new skills around X,Y and Z, in order to offer more to clients so you can charge more, resulting in more revenue’, is much more specific and easier to break down and tackle.

Measurable – Your goals should be measurable to have a real chance of succeeding. You want your business to improve, grow and become more profitable at the end of the day and so you need to measure its success over time. Success itself is measurable as revenue, whether it be a pound or a thousand pounds, is still revenue but one is clearly better than the other.

Achievable – Your goals should be achievable for your business. Setting a goal to double your turnover in 6 months, when you haven’t the budget or the team to do so, is not likely and therefore not really an achievable goal to set.

Relevant – Your goals should be relevant to your broader business aims or targets. However big or small the goal, it should take you in the right direction towards achieving one of these targets.

Time-constrained – Your goals should have a realistic target date on them, whether this is in a week’s time, 6 months or 2 years. Don’t be vague with your goals and leave them open-ended as if you do, they are far less likely to happen. Members of your team won’t be motivated in the slightest by the clock ticking each day and will be going through the motions, rather than striving to succeed, making every second count.

So, now you’re aware of how to set your business goals, it’s time to consider why it’s important to set them in the first place.

Four reasons why it’s important to set goals for your business:

Goals provide focus

Setting clear goals within a company and making them clear to the whole team helps to provide focus for everyone. The priorities of the company are made clear and individuals can therefore start to focus their attention on what’s important going forward. They can prioritise tasks much more easily and efficiently, in the knowledge that they are heading in the right direction. This is especially important for managerial positions, as the set goals help them to focus on the right areas of business and then divvy out any necessary work to their teams to get the job done.

Goals help you measure success

Every business wants to succeed, that is why they are started in the first place. But there are different levels of success in business; earning enough revenue to stay afloat and keep operating is success but then earning enough to not only survive, but to scale your business is also success, albeit much more desirable. Goals help you measure this success, as long as you plan them just right and use the before mentioned SMART method when setting them.

If you want your goals to be successful it is important that they are obtainable so that your team feels that it has a chance at attaining them. Goals are what keep your employees happy, motivated and raring to go each day. They will increase productivity and therefore the success of your business if implemented right. All progress should be measured over time to assess whether goals need reevaluating and adjusted if necessary.

Goals motivate the team

Everyone has their off days and however much someone loves their job, they aren’t going to be buzzing and motivated every day of the week. There will be days when energy is down and this is unavoidable. However, part of the importance of goal setting for a business is that it helps to motivate the entire team, however big, and give them direction. Rather than doing a job day in and day out without direction or goals in place, when they are implemented, more urgency is introduced to the working day and targets provide a finish line to work towards, with success being the trophy for crossing it.

Goals help individuals or teams take ownership and pride in their work. When goals are reached, however big or small, it is a great feeling. With increased motivation to succeed, also comes increased morale in the workplace, and who doesn’t want a happy team.

Goals encourage teamwork

Setting goals in business not only motivates employees to work towards broader targets, but also encourages them to work together. With common goals in place, employees are much more likely to come together and work closely to get the job done. This is especially true if there are rewards in place, as it’s often far easier to smash targets working as a team than as an individual. There’s no ’I’ in teamwork after all.

Final thoughts

With these points in mind, what is the importance of setting goals in business exactly? The answer is, it’s very important to set goals and plan the future of a business, whatever the size of a company, especially if you want to achieve big. The best things have to be earned after all. Now go, set some goals, review the goals you already have in place or change them up entirely. Just make sure that goals are in place and that they are SMART.

2020 has been a very strange year and most businesses out there have been affected in one way or another. Perhaps now is a good time to really get stuck into what your business needs, where it’s going, where it’s been and how it’s going to get there and when. Good luck!

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