The Power of Goal Setting in Running a Business; Plus 3 Tips on Changing Habits.

22 August 2020

Goal setting is the greatest thing you can do, not only to ensure your business is successful, but your entire team is motivated. As a leader it is important that you are creating both short and long term goals that evolve alongside the growth of the business.


However, there are many common mistakes that managers make when it comes to goal setting. This can range from not adhering to the “SMART” formula to not providing any reward to oneself or employees when a goal is achieved.


Additionally, many leaders think that business goals only apply to the company itself. In actuality you should be creating goals that go beyond the brand and inspire you to be best version of yourself in whatever role you hold.


Let’s break down exactly what a goal should be and ways that you can use those goals to not only motivate your staff but grow your business.


Is Your Goal SMART?


The term “SMART” goal was originally coined by George T Dornan, he outlined a strategy of goal setting that would ensure success with commitment. This framework is not only useful in creating business benchmarks but applicable to all areas of life.


S– Specific

Is your goal specific? In other words, is your goal something that is well defined and clear to both yourself and your team?


M– Measurable

Can you quantify your goal in any way? You can use the specificity of your goal to create a benchmark of what it means to achieve it. If you have no way of measuring your successes, you have no idea if you have truly accomplished your goal.


A– Attainable

If your goal is not attainable, what is the point of setting it? Goal setting is meant to be a vehicle by which you can motivate yourself and those you lead. When throwing out arbitrary and unrealistic goals, there will be no drive to complete them.


R– Realistic

This piggy-backs off of attainable. Realistic goals are things that are within reach. They aren’t goals that outlive you or the company and are relevant to the mission at hand.


T– Timely

Making goals that are time sensitive promotes an urgency to complete. This can be a huge motivating factor both professionally and personally. Think about it, what is the difference between a professor telling a student “I want a 5 page paper” versus “I need you to turn in a 5 page paper on Monday?” Do you think the student would just write the paper for it to maybe be eventually turned in? Odds are no.


SMART goals are incredible when it comes to motivating staff. Because of the time sensitivity, they are structured to be more short term, something that produces results and rewards for those who have achieved that benchmark.


Some examples of SMART goals:

“Create $10,000 of revenue for the month of September.”

“Reach out to 20 existing customers a day”

“Work on a new promotion and publish it to Facebook”


SMART goals can be one-time or recurring. It really depends on what you are trying to accomplish, who you are trying to motivate, and how it can aid the overall, long-term, goals of the business.


What is a Long-Term Goal?


A long-term goal is something that defines the mission of the business. When you create long-term goals you are effectively creating a strategy for the overall growth and success of your business.


Like SMART or short-term goals, these should have various qualities that make them realistic and effective. You should be making sure that as a leader of the business, your goals for the entity as a whole still hold the “S”, ”M”, “A”, and “R” of SMART.


But you can take it further when focusing on future planning. Because these goals are things that may be farther out you have to fully commit everyday to achieving them for the success of the business. It is also important that you make them public. Your team, although perhaps not involved in the nitty-gritty of attaining what you have planned, should be aware of these business goals so they know how to best support you.


The Balance gave some examples of long term goals such as, writing a business plan, improving your bottom line, becoming more productive, and using technology to do more.


These are only some examples. The goals you set for the long-term should be authentic reflections of what the business stands for now and where it should head in the future.


Biggest mistakes people make:


I have noticed that some of the most common mistakes leaders make when it comes to goal setting are just as easily avoidable. Goal setting should be a means of motivating your employees and yourself. This is why instead of giving each goal a negative urgency there should be a sense of reward upon achievement.


Of course some goals are in place to forego negative things happening to the business. Improving sales because you don’t have a great ROI, drawing in 20 more customers a day to increase revenue, improving your reputation on Yelp because you have less than 3.5 stars. Of course goals aren’t created just to be rewarded, BUT, incentives are great motivators.


Not to mention, the feeling you as well as your staff will feel upon achieving those goals and gaining the reward, however big or small, reflects on the importance of the goal, drive is reinforced.


Some other common mistakes that are made and easily avoided are not adhering to the formulas stated above. When you are missing one or more of the SMART components you are setting yourself up for failure. This isn’t good for either your employees or yourself, risking that one may resent the other for the inability to achieve something that was impossible to begin with.


Lastly, the most easily avoidable mistake is not working on the goals you have set out. What is the point of creating goals when there is no follow through? If you are NOT actively and consistently motivating yourself and your team to success, then there won’t be any follow through or growth. You may be causing your business to fall behind if you aren’t constantly striving forward.


This may be because there is a habit as a leader you need to break.


Habit Breaking in 3 Simple Steps


It is so easy to get set in old ways and avoid setting goals because you are comfortable where everything is at. Even if everything is running well in the business, goal setting is paramount in ensuring it stays that way and your staff continue to want to work there.


How do you break habits that could be hindering you as a manager or business owner?


James Clear stated, “If you want to change your behavior, you have to start with your whole identity.” He continues by expressing the difference between a kind of person who WANTS something versus IS something. Imitation might be the greatest form of flattery but in emulating someone you aspire to be like whether that is professionally or personally, you create habits to be more like them.


That’s not to say that you are going to wake up one day and be Jeff Bezos. But look at his work ethic, find things you admire and emulate, leave out the things you don’t admire.


Habits are a form of repetition, so break the cycle. Create newer, healthier habits that ensure you are the greatest possible leader of your business that you can be.


In order to do any of this you have to figure out what the sum of you exactly is. A great leader is someone who should be constantly reevaluating their own performance just as they do with their employees. You want to be someone that your staff looks to as inspiration in how to conduct themselves within the professional team as well as what this company stands for. When you are assessing your own strengths and weaknesses, you are giving yourself a road map to creating and achieving new goals.


To sum up…

  1. Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are
  2. Find someone who’s strengths you admire and emulate what they are doing
  3. Get comfortable and committed to improvement through building new habits around these strengths you have identified.


What are some goals you have for your business as well as habits you would like to break? Leave a comment below.


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