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Published on May 13, 2011
Although all businesses need clear, well-defined goals, many don’t have them. The 4th Annual Staples National Small Business Survey polled 300 small business owners and found that over 80 percent do not keep track of their business goals, and 77 percent have not developed a company vision.
So if goals are so important, why don’t more companies have them? One reason is that many small business owners don’t know how to create them. In addition, small business owners may find it challenging to find the time and/or resources to plan for the future.
But without long-term goals, along with a step-by-step plan of action for accomplishment, businesses are essentially taking control out of their own hands regarding the future of their company. In other words, the overall success of your business is contingent on making time for goals.
In this four-part series, we’ll look at how to discover, define, set and accomplish goals — and what to do when you’re faced with obstacles.
Discovering Your Goals What are your company’s goals? The answer goes beyond being profitable and growing. These are the results of accomplishing one’s business goals. Without a clear focus, how are you going to do these things? Simply put, without a goal you are essentially running your company blindfolded. At first, this may sound ridiculous. But how can you get your business to where you want it to be, if you don’t know your destination?
It's often helpful to look at the discovery aspect of a goal as the global view. It’s kind of like an umbrella that sits over all the details and steps that lead toward accomplishment. In fact, it’s the first step in the goals process — and it’s the foundation for everything you build, including your mission statement.
You went into business for a reason. Beyond your company’s ledger, why do you do business? Is it to help others? Provide an innovative product? Offer people foods that are free of chemicals?
If you already know the answer, great! WRITE IT DOWN. If you don’t know the answer, that’s OK. There’s a simple procedure to follow that can help you figure it out.
Make a list of all the things you’d like to do with your business. Think of it in terms of what do you want to accomplish, or what kind of imprint you want to make on the world you do business with. The list can be as long as you like, but be sure to list as many things as possible (even if they seem far fetched right now).
Before you make the list, ask yourself the following question: what do I love to do the most?
Base your list on the answer to this question. Let it be your anchor, so every answer you write down is meaningful to you. If you focus on doing what you love, you’ll be more apt to do a fantastic job with it.
Next, set the list aside for 24-48 hours. When you revisit it, there should be ideas you'll want to cross off, as well as ideas that you're very excited about. There may also be ideas that are stuck in the middle of these two options. Cross them off. If they're not on par with the most exciting ideas, just get rid of them (at least for now) and stay focused. It may be feel difficult, but you'll need to pair this list down to just a handful of things. These are your company's goals.