Whatever it is that you are trying to achieve within your business, the best way of getting there is by way of goal setting. It’s an important part of the business coaching process and there is a really good reason for that.
Setting goals allows you to keep focused on the desired outcome. Otherwise there is a real possibility of becoming instead absorbed in the actual tasks and, once that happens, the greater purpose is lost.
But to succeed it is important to take a strategic approach. And to stick to SMART goal planning.
Setting goals is the best way to ensure progress, to keep to deadlines and ultimately, to put a line in the sand which signifies success.
And, in my business coaching role, I endorse the concept of SMART goals. They are goals that meet the criteria of being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Each time you determine a goal, make sure you can couch it in the right terms to include these important qualities. This will improve your chances of succeeding in your quest rather than the all too common result of falling by the wayside.
Once you have your SMART goals in place:
Align your goals with your values. The chance of realising your goals will be helped to the extent that you are motivated toward achieving them. The more motivation, the more chance of success. So your goals must be important to you. They must be consistent with what you believe in. Otherwise achieving the goal will mean little unless it ultimately reflects you. And that is why your business’ vision must also be aligned with your personal goals. After all, your business is there to deliver on your personal aspirations.
Define the importance, or the ‘why’ behind the goal. Why this goal? What does it achieve in the greater scheme of things, how does it benefit your business and your bottom line? Examine the why behind the goal and be sure to stay realistic. A single vision really requires a number of goals. And having a number of goals means the tasks to achieve each of those goals will remain manageable.
Establish a support system and minimise potential challenges. It’s a lot easier to achieve a goal if you are surrounded by people who understand and support the reasons for it. Life is full of obstacles and challenges and a team approach to getting past them is probably the most effective way. So make sure that you share your goal with the people that matter most to you or are most likely to buy into your reason for striving for it. In some cases that will mean family or close personal friends and in other cases may mean people with whom you have strong professional relationships, such as your business coach, accountant or professional adviser.
Map your route and choose your crew. This is where you break the goal down into a journey that takes you from where you are now (point A) to where you want to be (point B). How will you get there? Determine the best way and from that calculate a time frame that factors in the real world. Create a plan of action that is realistic under the circumstances and includes deadlines. Sure, deadlines are stressful but they are absolutely vital. Include in your circle all of those who need to be on board and make sure you keep them involved in the planning process. It’s a very good idea to keep the team as small as possible - that whole ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ thing rings true here.
Delegate! As a good leader you ought to know how to get the best out of your team and this is even more important when trading conditions become more challenging. Understand your team’s strengths and leverage them. And remember to ask them for help when you start to lose your way. That feeling of empowerment can also be a powerful motivator for your team.
Celebrate and reward! There is nothing wrong with celebrating an achievement. In fact it really is an important step on the continued path to success. Make sure you not only reward yourself but also include your team and that support network for a job well done. And the harder it was the bigger and better the celebration! Remember the all-important debrief. Consider what worked, what did not, what could be improved upon in the future, and then apply what you learn to the next goal.
Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.