Most entrepreneurs have big dreams for their business—which is great. Big dreams mean you have hope for the future. The trouble is, unless you do something about them, your dreams will just stay up in the clouds. You’ve got to be intentional about running your business in the direction you want it to go—not just letting it run you. Because, just like Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
So to reach your dreams, you have to set business goals. Goals force practical steps into your life to bring your dreams down from the clouds and into reality. They’re the boots on the ground that will make stuff happen.
But before you dive in, you need a vision and a mission for your business. Without a vision, you could end up setting superficial goals that don’t really matter to you or to your dreams. So, you need to start there. Then, get your vision down on paper and turn it into a statement that you can share with your team.
After you create your vision, you will want to ensure that you have a clear mission statment that defines who you are and what you exist to do. Your mission statment will keep you from spending time on activities that won't actually help you reach your ultimate goal.
Once you've taken your dreams to a clear vision and mission, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work by creating your goals.
7 Steps to Setting Business Goals
Apply these seven steps to set short-term goals that will move you toward your vision for your business:
1. Identify your priorities.
Most business owners have a million things they want to do. But sometimes you have to forego a little bit of progress in many areas to gain major progress in the areas that matter the most. The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis is a great way to identify what you need to focus on right now to get closer to your vision. As you look at these things along with the time and resources you have available, you’ll be able to prioritize what you need to focus on first and then tackle those things one or two at a time.
2. Define what you want to accomplish.
Vague goals are not goals at all—they’re wishes. You need to get specific about what you want to accomplish, or nothing will ever happen. For example, maybe you want to make more money. Well, how much more? How do you want to do that? A more specific goal would be “I want to increase revenue in my business by 10%.” Now that’s something you can work with and break up into smaller goals to work toward.
3. Set clear KPIs for your business goals.
Make your goals for your business measurable by setting some key performance indicators (KPIs)—these are just metrics that you can keep an eye on to give you an idea of your progress. Measurable progress is called traction, which is what you and your team need to see to keep the foot on the gas day-in and day-out. And when you can observe your movement toward your goals, it pumps you up! Track those metrics to see how your strategy is working. If you aren’t hitting the mark for your KPIs, it might mean you and your team need to dig in your heels or just try a different approach.
4. Have a time limit.
The next thing you need to do is set a time limit—this is your deadline. Business goals with a time limit can be broken down into micro goals to measure your progress. You want to increase revenue by 10%? Great! By when? Once you have that date, you can break that goal all the way down to daily activities. And make sure your time limit is tight enough to make you and your team hustle for that goal every day but not so unrealistic that it’s overwhelming.
5. Put your business goals in writing.
Fun fact: People who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much during their lifetimes as people who don’t.1 Imagine that! If you want your goal to feel real, it needs to be in writing, and it needs to be visible to you and your team. Don’t just jot it down in a journal, then throw that journal in your file cabinet. Set up a scoreboard, hang a banner, or have something designed for each team member’s desk—get your goal on paper, on purpose.
6. Communicate your goals to your team.
When you cast a big vision (in other words, have a big goal for your business), you gotta get your team excited about it. The team needs to see what part they can play so that you’re pulling people into goals instead of pushing the goal onto them. When leadership sets goals for their team without creating buy-in, they’re not setting goals—they’re setting quotas. And no one likes quotas. Share “the why” behind these goals. To create buy-in from your team, the right hand needs to know why the left hand is doing what it’s doing.
7. Celebrate milestones.
It’s easy to move along from one project to the next without stopping to look around at what you’ve accomplished. That’s no way to live life! And besides, what gets rewarded is what gets repeated. Seriously, when you celebrate wins, big and small, you send a signal to your brain that says the action or behavior is worth repeating in the future.2 So, what are you going to do to celebrate the small wins on the way to your big goal?
Every business goes through five distinct stages. Find out which stage your business is in with our free assessment.
Remember, goals are not wishes, dreams, or even visions. Goals bring those things down to earth and create actual action steps to make those things come true. And big goals require big backbone—that only comes from caring deeply about the result. When you care about the end of the story, you will work your way through the thick of it.
Get more practical advice to level up your business on The EntreLeadership Podcast. Tune in every Monday to hear Dave Ramsey take real-time calls from business owners like you.