New Vision in the New Year series: Setting Goals for Success

Many people have heard and believe in the power of setting and writing down your goals. Yet when it comes to actually doing the work, most of people fall short. It was recently estimated in a Harvard study that 83% of the US population does not have goals, and of the 17% percent that do have goals, only 3 out of 100 write down those goals on paper. It is also estimated that people with written goals are 50% more likely to achieve them, making the simple act of writing down your goals a powerful motivational tool. Many of the world’s most successful people agree that what you “get” by achieving your goal/s is not as important as what you become or what your business could become in the process. Any smart CEO will tell the importance of goal setting in steering a growing business in the right direction. Figuring out which direction is absolutely best for your business – and the road map to get there – isn’t as much of a no-brainer.

Though the statistics are grim, they should make sense: establishing business goals involves a fair amount of introspection into what makes your business tick, and what you want its future to be. Devoting the proper amount of time to do that can be difficult, but your goals will be more achievable and effective if you do. We have compiled some of the latest content on setting goals for your business and have a step-by-step process for you to follow moving forward.

Determine Your Long-Term Goals

An associate professor at Purdue University, Maria Marshall, recently conducted a research study on small and family-owned businesses and found that you need to “start by distinguishing between your long-term and short-term ones. Your long-term goals should have an extended timeline of about three, five, 10, or even 20 years down the road. These goals need to encompass your company’s overall mission statement which also may reflect on the reason the company was founded. Understanding why the company is there in the first place gives your goals a whole different meaning. There is more energy and passion behind these types of goals. When you’re more passionate about them, they don’t feel as forced as goals without your drive. If your business doesn’t meet your personal goals, you probably won’t be happy waking up each morning and trying to make the business a success. Sooner or later, you’ll stop putting forth the effort needed to make the concept work. This is your dream! Short-term goals are attainable in a period of weeks to a year.

In her research, Dr. Marshall has found that long-term goals usually fall into four general categories: service, social, profit, and growth.

  1. Service – Goals related to improving customer satisfaction or customer retention.
  2. Social – Goals that focus on giving back to the community, through philanthropy or volunteer organizations, for example.
  3. Profit – Goals set to increase profits by a certain percentage.
  4. Growth – Goals related to the expansion of the company, through new employees, for instance.

She related each type of goal to a vacation destination, and the related short-term goal you establish afterward as the road map for getting to that destination. If you’re really thinking big, you might want to consider creating a B.H.A.G, a “big, hairy, audacious, goal.” This term was coined from a James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1996 article “Building Your Company’s Vision”. Regardless of how long you want your long-term goals to be set at, be aware of how quickly they may need to change. Lori Becker, founder, and CEO of Boston-based education publishing firm Publishing Solutions Group says she is a fan of the five-year goal, but the current economy and some major changes in her industry have forced her to reevaluate. “Instead of a few years out, I’m now looking quarter to quarter,” she says.

Getting to your destination with short-term goals

Figuring out how to get there is a struggle. Anyone will tell you it’s not easy trying to figure out the steps to get from A to Z. If you are setting a profit goal you need to understand what that means on a daily basis. For example, if you want to increase sales annually by 30 percent, how many new customers or orders a day is that? Many goal setting experts suggest making these short-term objectives S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Specific. Avoid abstract in your short-term aims. In order to work efficiently, the objectives need to be concrete and highly detailed in nature.
  • Measurable. Give it a dollar amount. A figure or value. Give it something!
  • Action-oriented. Determine the actions that need to be taken and who should have each task.
  • Realistic. Make your goals a challenge of course but don’t dig yourself a hole you’ll never be able to get out of. Consider the resources you have available so that you can achieve your goal reasonably.
  •  Time specific. Have deadlines to keep track of things.

It is important to remember that short-term goals need to tie into the long-term goals. Striving toward a specific business goal can be overwhelming, but if you have broken the goal down into bite-sized chunks and made them S.M.A.R.T., then you should be able to take a series of small, digestible steps each day to get closer to your goal. Something else you need to remember is that these goals need to visible to not only you but your team. Review them constantly and make sure your entire team knows these goals as to promote a joint effort.

Like we said in the beginning, WRITE THESE DOWN! Writing them down brings it to life. It makes them tangible and viewable for all to see. Maybe write them down on a whiteboard in the office, a sticky note next to your desk or on a poster board in a meeting room. Somehow, somewhere, get it out for you and everyone else to see. You may have a clear understanding of exactly of what you want for your business but your team may not so get them involved. Receive their input. It may change your perspective or provide feedback that solidifies your goals. Take the advice of Bill Baren, an entrepreneur and business coach of almost 30 years, “Inspiration and accountability are also two essential components for turning goals from abstract into reality. Accountability without inspiration is like a prison sentence,” he says.

Stay organized and focused on your goals! Growing your business and accomplishing your goals will take time and energy and more than just 1 or 2 objectives. That when the focus of your team and you come into play. Checking back on your goal regularly will bring you back to the goal mindset. Over the week you may get bombarded with all sorts of other distractions but it may be beneficial to have a goal meeting every Monday for a refresher on those goals you have set.

One important (and often overlooked) part of the business goal setting process is rewarding the employees who are actually working to achieve those goals. This isn’t always a financial incentive. “You’ve achieved a set of goals, and the next day you hand out a new pile of goals to work on,” Baren says. “What happened to a simple thank you, and celebrating what’s gone right? If you work in a company long enough where that’s not practiced, the motivation starts to disappear.”


Thanks for reading! Check back for the rest of our series on goal setting this month or you can simply sign-up to receive our weekly newsletter. We can provide all the information you need to bring your business to Dayton!

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Written By: Austin Rains, Marketing Associate at DTG

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