Time to Startup!

The BizFilings blog covering business tips and trends.

Grow Your Small Business, Part 3: Setting Your Goals

Published on May 20, 2011


Read 'Grow Your Small Business, Part 3: Setting Your Goals' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
Steps Image - iStock_000015953523Small Now that we’ve discovered and clearly defined our goals, the next step is breaking them down into manageable steps so we can accomplish them. Keeping it “Bite-sized” Why manageable steps? Because creating steps that are too big can easily lead to frustration and a desire to quit. Developing a plan of action that each of us can handle is key. Notice that I didn’t mention creating a plan that we’re “comfortable with,” because remaining in our comfort zone rarely empowers us to fulfill our potential. A plan that we can handle may not be comfortable, but it will be doable. It’s important to remember that everybody’s different. Understanding and respecting what works for us, instead of comparing ourselves to others, leads to successful goal accomplishment. Nobody (at least nobody in their right mind) eats an entire pizza in one bite. We all eat pizza by the slice, one bite at a time. But everybody takes different sized bites.

Let’s Get Practical So, how can we create a step-by-step plan of action that works for us? Like a fingerprint, no two businesses will have the same exact plan. Thankfully, there is a process we can all follow to help create a plan of our own. To follow is Zig Ziglar’s advice on setting goal steps. Mr. Ziglar is an expert on goals, and this process has worked for thousands of people. In fact, much of it dates back to a book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, published in 1937. To set a successful, step-by-step plan of action, you’ll need to: 1. Identify EXACTLY what you desire 2. Spell out exactly why you’d like to reach these goals 3. List the obstacles you need to overcome in order to get there 4. Identify the people, groups and organizations you need to work with to get there 5. Identify what you need to know (learn) in order to reach these goals 6. Develop a plan of action 7. Set a date on it. When do you expect to get there? 8. Write it all down!

A Note on Setting a Date I have been setting goals for a long time. But there was a time when I didn’t set actual dates on my long-term goals. Why? Because I was afraid I might not accomplish them by the deadline. I figured they’d get done as soon as I could get them done. What I didn’t realize was this: in not setting a date, I was essentially setting myself up to fail. Let’s take one of your long-term goals as an example. It’s a goal you repeat to yourself every day when you wake up in the morning, and every night before you go to bed. “Five years from now. I will (insert your goal here).” Even though you’re constantly repeating this goal to yourself, the deadline never gets closer. Because of the language used, your 5-year goal is always going to be five years away. In contrast, if you replace “five years from now,” with “by May 20th, 2016,” each day you move closer to your deadline. And as we all know — when a deadline gets close, we get moving! Without the pressure of a specific due date, there’s no drive to get it done.

Remaining Flexible Once we’ve created a manageable plan, there’s a good chance it will need adjusting. This is a healthy part of the process. As we complete steps and move closer to accomplishing our goal, we sometimes find that our original course is not leading us to the right destination. As we move along and things clarify, we sometimes find that part of a plan simply does not work. This is NOT to be considered failure. It is a mini-success because with the adjustment in our plan we align ourselves more closely with the end goal. Part 4 of this series examines how to overcome obstacles that arise along the way. Until then remember: if each step is manageable, your goal is attainable.