By Denise Willms
Setting goals and planning how to achieve them is essential to the growth and success of your business. In fact, it’s impossible to be successful without them. Your goals define success for your business and give you a plan you can follow to achieve that success.
If you haven’t set goals before, planning all your business activities for the year ahead can feel intimidating. You may wonder how you can possibly know today what you should be doing a full year from now.
Below, you’ll find an easy way to set goals for the upcoming year and learn how to make a plan to achieve those goals.
Goals should be SMART
Before you begin your own goal-setting, remember that good goals are SMART. There are a few variations of what the acronym SMART stands for, but here is the definition I use:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A - Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Time bound (completed by a set time)
Any goal you set should have these qualities.
List your goals
First of all, envision what your business will look like by the end of the next several months. What will you have achieved?
Write down everything you want to accomplish by the end of the year. Make sure every goal you write is SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound).
This list can include anything you want to achieve, such as how much money you want to make per month by next December, how many articles you want to write, how many new clients you will have, which projects you want to have completed, etc.
Make a chart for the year
Next, divide the upcoming year into quarters (January to March, April to June, July to September and October to December) and make a chart for each quarter.
Give each chart five columns with headings that read something like this:
Goal – In this column you will write your specific goal
Measurement – How the goal will be measured
Steps – Here you will list the exact steps you need to take to achieve this goal
Date for completion – Date by which you will have reached your goal
Date completed – The actual date you reach your goal
Charting your goals
Now, return to your list of goals. For every goal on your list:
A. Decide in which quarter you will complete the goal. Write the goal down on the appropriate chart in the “Goal” column.
B. In the "Measurement" column, describe how you’ll measure the goal. Ask yourself, “How will I know when I’ve reached my goal?” For example, one my goals is to write a book about article marketing for small business. I will know I’ve reached my goal when the book is published.
C. Under “Steps,” list the steps you need to take to complete the goal. When Ruth and I set our goals for 2008, one of my business partner's goals was to put an audio recording of a story on her website. The steps she needs to take to complete that goal look something like this:
1. Write story to be recorded
2. Rehearse reading story aloud
3. Record story
4. E-mail recording to Denise to publish on website
While you're listing the steps that lead toward your goal, you might realize you don't know all the steps involved in reaching a certain goal, or that you lack information you need to complete a goal. In that case, consider adding a relevant course or reading a book on the subject to your list of goals.
D. Finally, choose a completion date for the goal and write it down in the appropriate column. Remember to be realistic in setting a completion date. It needs to be attainable or you’ll become frustrated and achieve nothing instead.
Managing Larger Goals
After writing out the steps to your goal, you may discover that a large goal, such as making a certain monthly income by next December, requires that several smaller goals are met first, such as building a bigger subscriber list, offering more products, getting more website traffic, etc. Add any additional goals you discover to your chart where appropriate.
Putting Your Plan into Action
When you’ve followed these steps for each goal, you will have set your goals for 2011 and planned how you will achieve each one of them by the end of the year.
But, even the best plan won’t help you if you don’t take action.
To keep you on track, you may want to plan your year in more detail and break your goals down further into monthly, weekly, or even daily goals, depending on how you like to work. For example, if I want to write 100 articles by the end of next year, I can break that down to the goal of writing 2 articles a week, or writing one article every three days.
Review your goals regularly throughout the year. Make sure your current goals are still desirable, and add new ones if necessary
Follow the plan you’ve just set and you’re on the way to a profitable and happy new year.
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