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Start with the End in Mind: Setting Attainable Goals

February 19, 2016

Denise Alison| Stratigro Business Consulting Ltd.

Denise AlisonSetting attainable goals is an essential step in growing your business. We need to know what we want to accomplish so we can make a plan to get there and ensure that all of our actions align with our vision. It sounds obvious, but it’s the one thing just about every entrepreneur loses sight of from time to time.  We need to start with the end in mind.

If you’ve ever watched Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, you might remember a scene where the Cheshire Cat says to Alice, “If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” I imagine Alice wandering around the forest; she has no particular goal, so she is walking around aimlessly and getting sidetracked by tea parties and evil queens.

If you don’t have a clear vision for your business, you are Alice. 

A successful woman entrepreneur is successful because she had a clear vision of what she wanted to accomplish with her business; she didn’t just make it up as she went along. She planned for success and created an action plan that would help her achieve her goal.

To put this into context, let’s think about the different types of entrepreneurs we meet. I bet if you take a moment to think about the entrepreneurs you know, you’d be able to put most into one of these categories (including yourself)!

CaughtupCaught up in the moment.  
This entrepreneur is focused on what’s happening right now. Everything is done in reaction to something. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and there certainly isn’t time to think about the future.

pedal2Pedal to the metal.  
This entrepreneur pursues every business opportunity that comes along, and is focused on the short term. She may have big dreams about where it’s all going, but her direction changes so often that she never arrives at any particular destination

 JustthewayJust the way they are. 
This entrepreneur likes things just the way they are. She simply wants to enjoy things, and assumes the future will take care of itself. Imagine her surprise when the time comes where she wants to retire, only to find that no one is interested in buying her business? Or worse, she learns the hard way that nothing in life, including a business, stays constant. What’s working today is not assured to work tomorrow.

PetalOn the path to success.  
Then you have the gal that you just know is going places! From the outside looking in, this entrepreneur leads a charmed life; everything just seems to come so easy. To many people, it just doesn’t seem fair. The thing is, while it may not seem that way, these entrepreneurs work hard. The big difference between this entrepreneur type and the former types, is that they have crystal clear vision. They know exactly what it is they want to achieve with their business, and everything they do is focused on making that happen. 

It’s important to know what it is you hope to achieve with your business.
If you are ready to get on the path to success, answer the following questions:

Why did you start your business?
We’re all different, and we all embarked on our entrepreneurial journey for different reasons. There were things we wanted to achieve in the short-term, such as having the freedom of being our own boss and escaping the 9 to 5. And some longer term goals, such as making an adequate income, and spending more time with family.

What are you trying to achieve with your business?
Our ultimate goal for our business, that dream vision, is often about a lot more than our personal goals. There are things we want to accomplish for our customers and for our community. Just to be clear, you don’t need to change the world. You just need to know what you are trying to achieve with your business, and what you personally want from your business. You need to know what those goals are, so that your actions build towards them.

What are you trying to accomplish this year?
A lot of us have set some big, ambitious goals. The thing about big, ambitious goals is that they take time to achieve. If the goal is too big and too far from now, it’s easy to lose track or to give up. Setting smaller goals can help keep you on track, and you will get satisfaction from crossing some of the items off the list. Think about your vision: How can it be broken into phases? What can you accomplish this year that will move you closer to your vision?
Make sure you refine your goals to those that will make the most impact, and make the other goals easier. If you have 20 goals, your focus will be spread too thin. Aim for about three goals, along with your main vision. This will allow you to fully focus on each of them.

What actions can you take to achieve your goals?
Assess your current reality, and commit to action. To do this you need to take an honest objective look at what you’ve been able to accomplish. The gap between your current situation and what you want to achieve tells you where you need to focus your efforts. Create an action plan that outlines what you need to do to accomplish your goals.

Then get to work on implementing your plan!

Remember, vision without action is a daydream.

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