Setting Goals as an Entrepreneur

Most everyone sets goals come January. The new year provides an illusion of refresh and inspires personal growth. #NewYearNewMe

While resolutions are usually characterized by working out and healthy eating (and giving up by January 3rd), they don’t have to be just about getting in shape. As an entrepreneur/ startup/ business of any kind, you NEED goals and action plans, otherwise you’ll be stagnant.

The Essence of Good Goals

Not all goals are created equal. The best goals follow the SMART rule: they’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and have a time frame.

1. Specific

The more specific your goal is, the easier it is to identify when you’ve accomplished it.

“Get more views online” — ambiguous: How much is “more”? When has “more” been achieved.

“Get a 30% increase in impressions month over month, while holding a steady 70% engagement rate for posts on Facebook.” — specific

2. Measurable

You can’t attain something you can’t measure. Identify your metric for success.

“Have more people hear about Leeward in 2018” — not measurable: How could we possibly count how many people hear about Leeward? We don’t know every time someone talks about us.

“Engage 20 prospects per month in introductory meetings.” — measurable

3. Attainable

Making unreasonable goals you’ll never hit doesn’t do any good, you will just become discouraged by a lack of success.

“Grow revenue 100x in the first quarter.” — wildly unattainable

“Steadily grow revenue 3x year over year” — far more realistic

4. Relevant

You shouldn’t have time to waste on irrelevant goals (and if you do, please call me I can give you handfuls of side projects). Focus on hitting milestones pertinent to your overall goal.

If you’re looking to increase the service side of your business, don’t put focus on your hardware sales.

5. Time frame

Give your goals a time limit to work within, to ensure you have an end date where you either hit it or you didn’t.

“Present ten lunch and learns.” — If you present one lunch and learn every other year for twenty years, you’ll still technically hit this goal.

“Present six lunch and learns to an audience of thirty prospects during 2018.” — clear time frame

Other Pieces to Include

Those five steps will provide a great start for building a goal you can actually achieve this year. There are a few other pieces you can include to help ensure you can hit your mark.

Key Milestones

Having a time frame for accomplishing your overall goal is great, but try to incorporate some more key milestones. Check in every so often and make sure you’re on track to complete the larger goal.

Create meetings with the accountable team for company goals (a ten minute standing meeting is all you need in most cases). Ensure everyone is on track and refine any deliverables if necessary.

Set reminders in your calendar for personal goals and check in with yourself to see how you’re doing. Re-prioritize & get organized if you’re falling behind.

Accountability

With business goals, you should identify a team that is responsible for accomplishing the milestones and hold them accountable. Create the necessary check-ins and ensure they’re on track.

With personal goals, identify a person or a personal strategy to hold yourself responsible. This could be asking your mentor or your partner/cofounder to check in and hold you accountable for hitting your milestones. For the more self-motivated, this could be stickers in your planner everyday/every milestone for the positively motivated or social media shame for the negatively motivated. (I’m not always the best at keeping a budget.)

Wrap Up

The new year can provide refreshing energy to kickstart your goals. Jump on it by setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time frame) goals. Identify key milestones to stay on track for success and find ways to hold yourself accountable.