What is a business goal and how do I write one?

Goals are an important aspect of self-employment and self-motivation. They give us something to aim for, a focus for our energy. Even if you’ve never set yourself goals before, it’s never too late to start. Most people set goals for the quarter – now (September) is a good time to set yourself targets to achieve by the end of the year.

What exactly is a business goal?

A business goal is a target you set for yourself. Goals allow you to break down your overall strategy into manageable chunks, keep you on track and protect you from being overwhelmed. Unlike your business dream or aspiration, your business goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

For example, your dream might be to own a bookshop. But your first specific goal would be to complete your business plan. You can measure this goal’s completion and success by having it result in the necessary bank loan. Because you confined yourself to writing the business plan, and didn’t get distracted by trying to run before you can walk, your goal was attainable. Writing a business plan is also highly relevant to getting your business started, unlike, say, hosting a book signing. Above all, your goal must be time bound. In this case, you would set a period of time in which to write your business plan and submit it. In turn, you’d be spurred on by the knowledge that if you over-run, the whole plan could lose its momentum.

How do I set myself a goal?

Depending on the nature of your business and how long-established you are, your goals will be different. Most goals are ultimately to do with finance, even if the goal itself is actually about, say, customer service. In order not to micro-manage the situation, it’s a good idea to start with the big picture and work backwards until you’ve pared it down to an achievable goal.

For example, you probably have an overall intention to become the market leader in whatever sector you are in. But if you’re an independent software designer, no matter how brilliant, it’s going to take you a long time to overtake Microsoft. This is where specific goals come in. If you want to be the market leader, you will have to build your brand. So you might focus on social media and pick a number of followers you want to achieve. Or your goal might be to gain recognition, which could be measured by how many people had already heard of you and how many could link your brand to software design.

When should I review my goals?

At GetAheadVA, we set goals every quarter. This gives us enough time to complete them while also giving us the chance to review them. Did they work? Did we set our sights too high? Or was it the right goal but the wrong approach? A SMART goal should be attainable, so if we didn’t attain it, it was probably because we went about it in the wrong way. However, a bit of self-examination will show us where we went wrong, and the goal can stay on the list, accompanied by the new strategy, until the next quarter.

Of course, with the right focus, it is very likely that you will achieve your goal! If and when you do, remember to celebrate. If you have a team behind you, thank them – a good boss will know what will make them feel appreciated.

What about personal goals?

Personal goals are important too. They keep us sane and stop us sliding into a world where only business matters. Many coaches advocate choosing two business goals and one personal goal for every quarter. You might choose something like regular exercise or voluntary work, or you might identify a fear and address it. For example, if you dreaded public speaking, your goal could be to give a presentation at a networking event, and the approach would be to get the right support to achieve it. Public spekaing is a skill that will help us at work, but it will give us more confidence in our personal lives too.

Goals are important for businesses large and small, keeping teams focused and on the right path to success. If you have goals you’re not achieving, remember to ask yourself why. And if it’s because you’re bogged down in admin, give us a call on 01483 332 220– we can take away those mundane tasks so you can focus on the goals that matter.