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3 Rules for Setting Business Goals

How to Set Business Goals That Aren’t Just a Waste of Time

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Businessman in conference room
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Like setting personal goals, setting business goals provides us with direction and motivation. But only if we set the right goals, goals that will keep our business on track rather than derail it. How do we know that we're setting the right business goals? The right business goals follow three goal setting rules.

1) Business goals need to be relevant.

Business owners sometimes make the mistake of choosing business goals that are pointless. For instance, one person I know once set a business goal to hand out one hundred business cards a month. Well he did, but so what? If his intention in setting this business goal was to bring in more business, we all know that the way to do that is to establish relationships with people, and you don't accomplish that by just handing someone a card. The whole exercise was just a waste of time.

To be relevant, a business goal has to be profitable in some fashion. That's not to say that every business goal has to be measurable in dollars and cents, but it does have to possess a clear advantage or benefit to your business.

2) Business goals need to be actionable.

An even more common mistake when setting business goals is to choose business goals that are too vague or abstract. Business goals such as "Andy's Antiques will improve our customer service" sound nice - but if Andy's Antiques is your business, how are you going to do that?

When you're setting business goals, be sure that you have developed them from general statements, such as in the example above, to specific actions that can be performed and evaluated. (See Setting Goals Is the First Step to Achievement to learn how to create specific goals.) Goals without action plans are just pretty words.

3) Business goals need to be achievable stretches.

The purpose of business goals is to move our businesses forward and, as I said in the opening of this article, to motivate us. So we have to position the bar very carefully when we're setting business goals. If the bar is set too high, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment and many of us, recognizing this in advance, will just stop trying.

On the other hand, if the bar is set too low, and all we have to do is step over it, we might not bother to do it as we won't get enough satisfaction or recognition from the accomplishment. A goal has to stretch us to be worth doing. Recognize that a business goal has to 'feel' worthwhile and set business goals that will accomplish the dual purpose.

Follow these three rules when you're setting business goals and you’ll find that you're automatically achieving more because you'll no longer be wasting time setting goals that defeat the purpose of the exercise.

Ready to create business goals for your own business? Quick-Start Business Planning for Small Businesses will lead you through the process.

You might also want to read Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for Business Success; it presents business goals to move your business ahead that you might want to incorporate into your plans.

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