When you run your own business, you’re the person deciding on its direction. You’re in control of start dates and marketing promos. You must hold yourself back from the shiny object syndrome when it comes to your business goals.
And yet, so many people come up short on that last one but it’s easy to understand why.
Open your social media feeds or search on the internet for business advice and you’ll find dozens of articles on must-do’s for your business this year—things you need to implement, apps you need to download, widgets needed on your website, and a host of other projects you would be remiss not to implement immediately.
And they all sound so wonderful. They’re things your audience will love, will drive more sales, help you become better known.
But if you take off in hot pursuit of them all, you won’t accomplish any of them.
Pick a Goal, Pick a Timeframe
There are likely many things you need (or want) to do for your business. However, you have a better chance of completing them if you concentrate on 1-3 goals at a time. If you have more than three things you want to institute in your business this year, you can still do them after you complete the first three. Some professionals have new goals each month, quarter, or every six months. That way they can tackle a few at a time and still end the year successfully.
Treat business goal setting the way someone would eating at a friend’s home. Don’t pile mounds on your plate just because it looks delicious. Take one helping first and when you’re finished with that, come back for more.
Cluster Your Goals
If you have an auspicious agenda this year, cluster the goals that naturally fit together. For instance, if your goals are more followers on social media, being consistent in your blog posting, and implementing a new training program for your employees, know that the first two can easily be stitched together as good blog content gives you something valuable to post to social media (and thus, get more followers). The third goal is better as a standalone.
Select a Quarter for New Launches
Is there a new market you want to explore? Maybe you want to test a new product or service? And yet you keep putting it off because you don’t want to take away time to try something new that might be risky when doing what you’re doing is currently making money.
But if you don’t give the new product, service, or market attention it will never succeed. For instance, perhaps you own a food truck, and you’ve considered adding a brick-and-mortar location. However, if those thoughts are just thoughts, your café will never take shape. You must take that risk and open in order to see if your business idea will work.
But there’s a lot of planning involved before you can do so. Pick a quarter (or season or even a month) and dedicate your free time during that period to work on the pieces you need to get closer to your launch goal.
Which brings us to…
Schedule Time and Purpose
It’s great to use free time to explore ideas for your business. But your free time is likely limited. It can be frustrating to save something for your free time only to be discouraged when your free time is usurped by something else. That’s why you also need to set aside time in your schedule each week for goal attainment.
This is not an hour set aside to think about your idea, although that is a necessary thing early on. If you want to be successful in meeting your goal, you need to map out what it will take and break that up into smaller, attainable pieces that you can schedule. In our restaurant example, a task might be listing all the restaurants in an area of town you’re considering for your café. It might be reaching out to the local chamber to find out what development projects are in the works.
Whatever you assign for this allotted time should be measurable. At the end of your time block you should know whether you accomplished it or not. If your goal was thinking about opening your restaurant, you may have done that but there is no end point. You could “think” about it for the next decade. However, if your task was to call three landlords on potential locations, you know definitively whether that was completed or not.
This year don’t try to do it all. Pick 1-3 things that will advance your business and map out how you will get there. Then assign time to make it happen. Ideas are exciting. But the real excitement lies in your ability to accomplish them. That starts with making the most important ones a priority. Just like in your personal life, you make things a priority by giving them your undivided attention.