While the New Year is traditionally a time for setting goals and resolutions, the truth is that the most effective goals are the ones you set based on the needs and circumstances of your life, whether on the first of the year or a random summer day.
This is equally true of personal resolutions and business goals. In fact, for entrepreneurs and home-business owners, setting your goals – the right goals, set in the right way – might just be the most important thing you do for your business all year.
Here are the things to remember when considering your home-based business goals. Goals should be:
- maintained and celebrated
Goals shape the way you live your life
Goals provide focus and direction for your business – which is especially critical when you are your own boss.
In a typical business hierarchy, your supervisor would lay out your job requirements and performance expectations. But, as an entrepreneur, in charge of your own day-to-day activities and reporting only to yourself, it is up to you to decide the duties of your position; it is you who determines what success looks like.
Clear business goals allow you to strike a balance between work, family, and all the other important things that contribute to your quality of life.
Will you work tirelessly at your business – sacrificing all else – until you hit desired profits or statistics? Will you run your business as a “hobby,” waiting to see if it grows into something that merits more of your time? Will you spend too much energy on the aspects of business building that are most enjoyable to you, inadvertently ignoring things that might bring you greater income?
When you take the time to set up purposeful, well-crafted goals, you can maximize your efficiency, and hopefully avoid the stress of burn-out from lack of progress.
Your goals, your success
When you’re setting goals, don’t be afraid to tailor them to your needs. While you may use another successful person’s goals as a template, it’s important that you really think about you when you’re deciding your own objectives. Only you can truly understand your unique life and situation.
You know what hours you’ll have available to devote to your new endeavor (after all, many of us start an entrepreneurial pursuit as a moonlighting job or side business, while still maintaining our primary, full-time employment). And only you can decide what is reasonable to accomplish in that set amount of time; no one else understands your commitments or capabilities as well as you do.
This is a refreshing and empowering situation – nobody’s breathing down your neck or telling you what to do! – but it also can be perilous to your mental and fiscal health if you don’t have the right benchmarks in place.
If you haven’t set your own goals, it’s difficult to see and appreciate your business growth. You wait around for someone else to tell you whether or not you’re doing a good job – something you may not ever really hear.
In the meantime, you focus too much on what everyone else is doing and may get distracted from what’s really important for your business growth. Goals provide a means to measure your progress without comparing yourself to others.
Choose The Right Goals
Sales aren’t everything
You need to address all the areas of building your business; you are not just “marketing a product.” If you only focus on sales, you are growing tall, but you also need to grow wide if you want your business to be sustainable.
Your goals can and should address any number of areas:
- customer relationships
- personal and team training
- marketing and social media
- other aspects of maintaining a successful, home-based business.
Your monthly sales are still important, but some of these other areas are more important to the long-term life of your business. Setting goals will help you ensure that you are moving forward in all of these non-sales aspects each month.
Think it through
What makes a good goal? It needs to be measurable, reasonable, and focused on the end result.
We all want to “grow our business,” but you can’t make something that generic one of your monthly goals! How do you assess that? Higher sales? More orders? Expanding your contacts? There’s nothing to evaluate!
You need to include something specific that you can measure like, “Hit $3000 in sales each month” or “Add two new team members per month.” That way, you can tell easily whether or not you’ve achieved it.
Each of your goals should be something that is reasonable to complete within a month – or your specified length of time. If you decide upon a goal that is too lofty or that doesn’t follow as the next logical step in your business growth, you may be setting yourself up for failure. And failure can sabotage your confidence.
Focused on Results
Your goals should be designed to produce results. As you craft each goal, be sure it clearly contributes to achieving your long-term purpose for your business.
Is the intention for your new venture to replace your traditional, full-time job? Then be sure that your goals are aligned with that end result as closely as possible. You should be clearly and easily able to answer the question, “How will completing this goal help move me from point A to point B?”
To decide what matters most, figure out where your primary income is coming from, and address that regularly. Do you earn the most money from the efforts of your team? From the number of meetings or events that you hold? From the raw amount of product that you move?
Determine what these income-producing activities are, and make them the focus of your goal-setting.
You may also wish to round out your goals by including professional development and training, for you and your team.
Keep It Going
Accountability and Evaluation
A key factor in using goals as a business driver is to hold yourself accountable, and this is where many of us fall short. You must be willing to take a hard look at your progress and regularly evaluate your effectiveness. Then, reward yourself or redirect yourself as needed – just like a good supervisor would!
No wiggle room
The first step toward accountability is to write down all your goals. There is immense power in simply putting them down on paper; it creates a very strong feeling of “intention.” Be sure to display them in a prominent place so you can’t help but see them every day.
Next, share your goals with others: your spouse, your friends – and the best person to share with is your business mentor, if you have one. They will be able to provide you with tools to help, and check on you if you’re struggling.
If you don’t have a mentor, then share your goals with your team or employees to let them know what you are trying to achieve on their behalf. When you feel like you have to report to somebody, you’re more likely to take your goals seriously.
For your goals to be truly effective you should evaluate regularly – perhaps monthly – and then adjust as needed. Keep these questions in mind:
1. Am I too easily exceeding my goals?
If you’ve met all your goals several months in a row, well done! However, that might be a clue that you can challenge yourself a little more. When you achieve a more difficult goal, you tend to feel even more personal pride!
2. Are these goals still helping me to achieve what I want with my business?
As you start achieving in some areas of your business, it may make it more obvious where you are lagging, and you can add a goal to address that. Or you may find that the direction of your business model has changed. Are different areas taking the forefront as your primary income-producing activities? Be sure to modify your goals to address that!
Throw yourself a party
The final step in creating accountability is to celebrate your successes, to help motivate you to continue pursuing your goals.
Reward yourself! If you’re achieving your goals, you’re probably earning a bigger paycheck, but give yourself an additional reward – perhaps a new gadget or an extravagant night out with your spouse or friends.
Don’t forget to brag a bit as well! When you run your own business, you must become comfortable “tooting your own horn.” You don’t have a boss to heap praise on you when you do things right, so you have to be in charge of bragging about yourself, the same way you would brag about someone who worked for you, or brag about one of your kids.
It’s okay; you’ve earned it!
“I rarely allow myself time to celebrate accomplishments because I’m already thinking, ‘Okay great, what’s next?’ and that’s obviously not healthy. I think many women get trapped in that ‘checklist’ mindset, just checking off one thing after the next, and fail to step back and look at the big picture, process what they’ve accomplished, and reward themselves for it.”
Kelsey Manning, @kelseyMmanning
A Personal Moment
The difference that goals have made in my business
I really believe that this has been the key to my own business success, because at the end of the day, I’m much more like the tortoise than the hare.
Within Traveling Vineyard, you’ll rarely see my name under “top sales,” “top team builder,” or “highest event sales” for the month – I’m average at all of those things.
It’s not as if I have no desire to improve in those areas, but the point is that I’m not desperate to – I don’t feel like I’m lacking, failing, or not good enough.
By using monthly goal-setting to stay focused on slowly growing all aspects of my business, I’ve built a large, national team, I’ve become a valued contributor to company direction and policy, and I’ve developed a personal business plan that nets a greater income than my previous full-time job.
I’ve been able to establish a consistency that keeps me on a steady upward climb. I’m making the income that I want, and not working more hours than I choose. I’ve set goals to get me efficiently from point A to point B, and I have decided how to define my own success.
That’s what it’s all about
When you work for yourself, your success is your own. You’re only competing against your own expectations. This can be a problem – self-motivation is one of the hardest things to maintain – but it can also be a huge boon as you get to decide the value of your own efforts according to what matters for you.
So take a moment to think. What kind of goals are you setting? How have they helped you? How could you tweak them to serve you better?
Because at the end of the day, that’s what goals are for: to move you along to what you, personally, want to achieve.