June is an ideal half way point for many small business owners to assess their performance compared to the goals and objectives that they set at the beginning of the year. This intermediate assessment acts as a pivotal point in time to determine if your plans should be adjusted or continue.
For many entrepreneurs, however, it is difficult to make these assessments because they haven’t set objectives that are specific, harmonious, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant or time sensitive yet these areas are critical for effective business goal setting, motivation, and evaluation. More often, entrepreneurs interchange goals and objectives. In the context of goal setting, there is an important practical distinction. After you set important goals, you move to setting objectives whose purpose is to serve your goals. While goals are more broad, general, intangible and abstract, objectives are more narrow, precise, tangible and concrete.
Whether you have objectives or need to create them, remember these 6 intentional steps to effective goal setting:
1. A specific objective has a much greater chance at being accomplished than a just general one.
When creating a specific objective, use the what, where, and why to craft it. For example, your goal is “Plan for Continued Growth.” A general objective would be, “get new clients.” But a specific objective has more power to support the overall goal. An objective to support the goal is, “Get 5 new prospects a week and secure 12 new clients a month.” It is tied in to the overall goal and is specific to create action around it. Remember to ask yourself, “How would getting 5 new prospects a week and securing 12 new clients a month tie in to the revenue and overall goals of the company?” Adjust your objectives accordingly.
2. Harmonious objectives have an increased chance in being developed than discordant ones.
When you build a house, the blueprints are drawn. Once the blueprints are drawn, the platform for the house is developed, the cement is poured, but the cement needs to cure before the rest of the framing is built. There is a process and a harmony for each stage to work together. Creating objectives are much like building a house and, when they are harmonious, you can build a better house in half the time because you know exactly and precisely when things are to be implemented, and more importantly, you are designing them to complement one another.
Many solopreneurs and small business owners struggle to accomplish their goals and objectives because they haven’t reviewed them against the harmony test. Be sure those objectives are also harmonious to what you want from life in general. All too often, entrepreneurs get in performance mode and forget to determine how their business goals will impact their personal life. Take a step back to assess both professional and personal goals to ascertain if they are working in concert with one another.
3. One of the most important aspects to achieving an objective is to regularly measure its progress.
To determine if your objective is measureable ask: “How will I know when the objective is accomplished?” It is also important to develop smaller objectives so that you celebrate the interim successes. When you continuously measure your objectives and how they are getting you closer to your overall goal, it gives you a clearer picture of your performance and enables you to adjust your plans accordingly.
4. When you identify objectives that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them a reality.
But you have to make sure they are attainable. You must identify and develop the skills, abilities, attitudes, mindset and financial capacity to reach them. Successful entrepreneurs make continuous development an ongoing part of their plan. They get additional education, coaching or mentorship and utilize their resources to attain their objectives.
5. An objective can be both high and realistic: you are the only one who can decide just how high your objective should be and if it is relevant to your goals.
Be sure that every objective is realistic, relevant, presents substantial progress, and is aligned with the overall goals of your company. Remember that your natural hard wiring plays a role in goal and objective setting. Hard wiring is natural to who you are. Those who are naturally hard wired to have a high sense of urgency, by their nature, often set timelines that are unrealistic and create undo pressure. If you know this about yourself, remember to conduct a self check or ask the others that are involved on what needs to be considered and if the timelines and objectives are sensible.
6. An objective should be anchored within a timeframe. With no timeframe tied to it, there’s no sense of urgency.
With no sense of urgency, it doesn’t get done. If you want more clients, when do you want them by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you fasten it within a timeframe, “3 new clients by July 1” then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on it.
When you follow these intentional steps, you will find your objectives work in concert with your goals and guide you to your desired vision.
Lisa Mininni is President of Excellerate Associates, home of The Entrepreneurial Edge System, the only national curriculum helping entrepreneurs take a systems approach to profitability. To learn more about how your clients find you, choose you, and buy from you, visit http://www.freebusinessplanformat.com.