The Importance of having goals, no matter what size your business is.
Often, the small business entrepreneur starts out in their field because of a particular passion. Perhaps you are an amazing baker or skilled at making unique, handcrafted jewelry. Likely you’ve attended a seminar or two that talked about embracing your passion so that’s what you did. But, don’t be blinded by it. Being passionate about something is good for the heart and soul but it won’t necessarily pay the bills. I once had a passion for collecting teddy bears but that didn’t translate into owning the “Build a Bear” empire. To accomplish something like that I would have needed goals and a clearly defined path, not just passion. So whether your goals are lofty or more level headed, the importance of having them cannot be overstated.
Big business doesn’t own the concept of having a Mission, a Vision for its future or of establishing clearly defined goals. Even if your kitchen table is your office, no matter what size you are, your business will only grow and that growth be measurable, if you set well-defined goals. Whether you use a vision board, a goal setting technique like SMART, or get advice from your local SBEC centre, take a good hard look at your business development plan and set both short and long term goals. Decide where you want to be in 1 year, 2 years and 5 years and then get to work designing your business plan around that vision.
Clearly stated goals that are recorded and always visible (post them on your wall for example) help keep you focused. They remind you when you get off track (don’t beat yourself up, we all get off track once in awhile!) they allow you to refocus and if necessary, to redefine or reshape your business plan according to current economic and business conditions. As a boat without a rudder floats at the mercy of the sea, without a plan you too will float along – at the mercy of others and their priorities, without benefit of a mapped out route that would help you achieve clear sailing once more.
I had the opportunity of visiting SBEC, a small business enterprise centre recently. The experience was invaluable in helping me clarify exactly who my target market should be. In talking through my business ideas with an advisor it suddenly became clear that the market I was actively pursuing was not necessarily the one that would help catapult me to the next level of income earnings. When I got home and started recording the specifics of what I actually do day to day, as well as writing down why I do it and who is best served by my business, it suddenly became obvious that I should be seeking out entirely different client opportunities.
I started writing a business plan that day. What do I really want to accomplish? What are my goals? My business was something I dabbled at, something I found enjoyable and that I was reasonably good at. Without goals however, I had no focus. To follow the tried and true classic formula, here’s what you should do: Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. When they are Specific, they are Measurable and when they are measurable you will know if they are Attainable and you will be able to track your achievements. Make sure that your goals are Realistic. If you flunked Grade 11 physics, you might not be heading the space shuttle program anytime soon. Making a million dollars is a great goal but perhaps set your first target a little lower. Enjoy the satisfaction of reaching that goal – then target the next realistic monetary goal. Finally, make sure your goals are Timely. That is, give yourself deadlines, specific dates that you can actively work towards and measure your success against. Goals and having a vision will help bring clarity, unity, and focus to your everyday activities, even if your boardroom is your bedroom and the kitchen table is your office!
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Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.