17 Dec 2020
The importance of setting business goals
Written by Doug D'Aubrey

Everyone has an idea of where they want their business to be in the future. Your ultimate goal may be to earn enough money to retire early, create a legacy for your children or it could be world domination.

The best way to achieve this future is to create a road-map of how to get there: otherwise known as a business plan. However, when you are planning for the future, it’s essential to keep your goals in mind. Everything you put in your business plan should be centred around achieving your goals.

If you haven’t already written a business plan, we recommend you read our Business Planning for 2021 article, which outlines how to structure and write a plan.


Setting goals

When we set goals, business owners tend to solely focus on their business. This is not surprising as it’s what you do for a living, and business goals are vital to maintaining motivation and drive. However, it is essential not to forget our personal goals – where do you, personally want to be in 3, 5, 20 years in the future?

Your business facilitates your personal goals. Therefore your business and personal goals must be aligned, but separate.

For example, a personal goal might be to own a beautiful chalet in the Swiss Alps where you can ski to your heart’s content. To achieve this personal goal, your business goal might be to earn £100k per year and have management staff to run the day-to-day business.

It is the personal goal that motivates and inspires you. The mechanism to achieving this goal is the business goal of earning £100k per year and employing management staff.


Setting achievable goals

Continuing with the example above: If you currently earn £30k per year and your goal is to make £100k in 6-months, you’re probably going to need a considerable business scale-up programme and investment – now, we’re not saying this isn’t achievable, but it’s perhaps unlikely.

Is not hitting this goal going to motivate you to continue? – probably not.

When setting goals, it is important to challenge yourself, but they should be realistic and achievable within a specific timeframe. One proven strategy for goal setting is to use SMART.

Goals should be Specific – make it very clear to you and everyone else what your goal is.

Goals should be Measurable – can you quantify success? You can also try putting milestones (mini-goals) in place to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.

Make sure your goals are Achievable – can you, or your business accomplish the goal? The point of a goal is to challenge and motivate yourself. If your goal is too high, it can cause stress and decrease the chance of reaching your goal. Likewise, if it’s too easy, it will stop you from pushing yourself and doing more.

Are your goals Realistic? – ambition is a powerful trait, but you need to ensure your goals aren’t fantasy. Successful business people don’t just become successful overnight.

Finally, remember to make your goals Timebound – When are you going to have achieved your goals by?


How long should your business goals be?

In business, it is important to have a mixture of short, medium and long-term goals to keep you motivated. What defines the actual length of these goals in terms of time is based on you and your business.

For example, a business start-up with young directors might want to have some goals that stretch as far as 20-30 years. However, someone starting a business in their 50s probably would prefer to be achieving their goals a lot sooner – but, they might want to leave something behind for their children.

If you have ambitious, achievable goals that will take a few years to accomplish, then we recommend breaking those down to become more manageable. We mentioned setting mini-goals (milestones) above in terms of setting measurable goals. Milestones are a brilliant way of keeping you motivated when you’re working towards long-term goals (5, 10 or 20 years into the future) as they create the opportunity to celebrate success and achieve a ‘win’.


Setting goals for 2021

It’s no surprise that many people’s annual goals in 2020 were seriously interrupted or shelved. Certainly, at the start of the pandemic, businesses were operating on a day-by-day basis.

When setting goals for 2021, it is important to have learned from the unexpected, unprecedented nature of 2020. 2021 promises a large deployment of the vaccination and ‘business as usual’ by Easter. It could also bring a different strain of the virus and more lockdowns. Which do you prepare for?

The answer should be both. Throughout 2021, keep reviewing your goals and milestones to check that you are heading in the right direction. You will need to stay flexible and adapt to change. Try not to be stubborn and set rigid goals.

Finally, remember that ‘business as usual’ will be more like it is today than it was in 2019. Technology has dramatically advanced the way we do things forever. Consider the new opportunities now available to us and the new ways of working. As an example, we are more likely to have more meetings over Zoom than face-to-face than we did in 2019 – so, do you want a fleet of business cars anymore?


How ETC can help

If you need help setting SMART business goals or creating a comprehensive business plan for 2021, please get in touch.

If you’re new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.