Tuesday 21 January 2014

Part 1 of 5: Why Goal Setting Is Important for Small Businesses

Note to self! Why is goal setting important?

Ideas to help you move your business to new levels of success. 

Written by Robyn T. Braley

Part 1; Why Goal Setting, Part 2; The Leaders Role in Goal Setting, Choosing the Team Part 3; The Right Location for Goal Setting Part 4; Formula for Goal Setting Productivity Part 5; Planning to Achieve Your Goals
2014 promises an economic surge in Canada. Identifying goals and implementing a plan to achieve them will equip your small business to maximize new opportunities. In this post I focus on why goal setting is an important element of brand-building.   
January is traditionally a time for reviewing the past, analyzing the present, and anticipating what will come in the months ahead. We usually come up with a list of goals and abandon them by March. But, hope alone will not make your business dreams real.
Dreamer To Achiever
A clear set of goals brings focus and purpose. They transform you from being a dreamer to an achiever. Goals and a plan to achieve them keep you and your team from being distracted.

So, let’s get it out the way. “When you fail to plan you plan to fail.” There it is. You’ve heard it hundreds of times. But, the truth is, very few mantras say it any better. A plan takes you from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow. The process helps you refuel and retool.
Goal Clarity
But, a great plan is only as good as the clarity of your goals. Writing goals that every team member understands is where you start the journey to achieving them.   
However, due to their psychological makeup, many entrepreneurs resist the very idea. They want to “improvise” and “feel” their way forward. They believe the restrictions of a plan will inhibit their ability to “spring” and “exploit” unexpected opportunities.
That is flawed thinking. It is also why many entrepreneurs fail. However, if you are an entrepreneur who is disturbed by this, there is hope in the last paragraph of this post.
Why Goal Setting
To state the obvious, goal setting and developing a plan to meet them will increase profits. Putting the motivational speeches aside and getting to the skinny, goals and action plans also help you sleep better. When you own your own business, there are times when a great night’s sleep is all you need.

Goals reduce stress. Even in times of turbulence, confusion and threat, you know you have a way forward. Goals are a hand to hold on to, a shoulder to lean on – name your relevant country song here.

Two Kinds of Goals
Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” There are basically two kinds of goals.

1.     Goals that define dreams, target opportunities and introduce new frontiers.
2.     Goals that eliminate threats, problems, inefficiencies or risks.

In Part 3, I suggest starting with positive goals when in a structured goal setting session. In many cases, the process of dealing with the positive brings new thinking and creative solutions to the negative goals. 

The Power of Presence
Sometimes the journey is as important as reaching the destination. The process of goal setting and disciplined plan execution stimulates heightened awareness which I call the power of presence.

Sales people and athletes call it “getting into the zone” or “being in the moment” or being “in the present.” Some business coaches call this flow which is an important component of “positive thinking” psychology.

Whatever you call it, to get there you must clear away distractions. Mentally, you  must become completely immersed and energized by your focus. You are fully engaged and absorbed in executing your plan.

Rather than seeing problems you tend to have a heightened awareness of solutions and opportunities. The power of presence enables you to hear, feel, experience and think about things in a different way because you are acutely aware, focused on your goals and in the present as you work to achieve them.

Good News for Entrepreneurs
When you have clear goals and a plan, you are better able to determine whether unexpected business opportunities are real. The plan will provide a framework to help you decide whether you should deviate from your plan to exploit a new opportunity immediately, or whether you should stay on track and monitor or ignore the option completely.

As business veterans will attest, in the long run, sometimes the best projects are the ones you passed on. A plan provides a context for sober second thoughts. Building flexible options into your plan allows you to alter the course when it makes sense.    

I’ve given you reasons why it makes sense to formally set goals for your business. In my next post I’ll examine the leader’s role in the process.

Robyn T. Braley is a writer, speaker and music composer. He is the President of UniMark Creative which focuses on website design, video production, media services (editorial and advertising), and graphic design. Contact him at robyntbraley.com or unimarkcreative.com.

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