Setting goals is incredibly important, but so many people shy away from doing it. Often, it’s down to fear. Some fear failure, some fear the implications of success. But what happens when you don’t set any goals?

It’s a bit like getting into your car and driving along with no destination. Each time you get to a junction, you have to decide whether to go left or right. Every decision leads to procrastination because you have no direction, and once you do decide, you wonder if you’ve gone the right way.

The problem is that you have no idea whether you’ve gone the right way, because you haven’t set a destination – so you end up driving around in circles, becoming increasingly frustrated and needlessly burning fuel en route.

This is a perfect analogy for goal-setting, because when you run your own business, it’s down to you to set the destination – the end goal. No one else will do this for you. But where do you begin?

The first place to start is to consider your personal goals, because ultimately, when you run a small business, it’s usually your means to achieving those goals. Your personal and business goals should work together, because if they’re competing all the time, something will have to give.

Set aside a day where you can really think about your goals. Take the time to do this, and create a visual board with images that reflect what you want. It may be places you want to visit, a healthier lifestyle, a new car or house, doing something for charity, learning something new or spending more time with family.

For each goal you set, think about how you would feel if you didn’t achieve that goal, then think about how wonderful you’d feel if you did achieve it? Once you’ve identified goals, consider what you need to achieve each goal.

How will you measure progress towards the goal? How will you measure success?  For example, let’s say one of your business goals is to increase profitability by £10,000 in the next 12 months. Are you going to work hard all year then send off all your paperwork to your accountant and hope for the best? No. You’re going to make sure you have a system that shows you, in real time, how you’re progressing towards that goal as you move throughout the year.

That way, if profitability isn’t increasing, you can adjust your sales and marketing and continue to measure the effect – a bit like the re-route function on a Sat-Nav – the destination hasn’t changed, just how you’re getting there.

As a final tip, make sure your goals are SMART. That means:

  • Specific: What exactly is your goal? Be specific – half-hearted goals lead to half-hearted results.
  • Measurable: How will you measure progress? And what is the specific result you’re measuring?
  • Attainable: If you set unattainable goals, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Dream big, but make sure they’re attainable.
  • Realistic: You have to believe that the goal is something you can reasonably make happen. Even if it’s a stretching goal, it needs to be realistic.
  • Time: In what timeframe will you achieve that goal? Big goals might take 3 – 5 years to achieve, which is fine – but make sure you break the goal down into milestones that you can measure during that timeframe.

A good accountant will talk to you often about your goals, both personal and business, and be active in helping your work towards them. Fresh Clarity work with small businesses across Shropshire to achieve their goals, using our unique blend of smart accounting and effective business development. Talk to Fresh Clarity today about your goals – and we’ll help you achieve them.