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Setting goals to grow your business: long term goals

03 Apr 2012

This is it. You've launched your start up, identified your brand and you’re ready to roll. Success is in your sights - if only you knew what to do next. 


Simply put the next step is setting realistic and measurable goals that will help you achieve, step by step (or sale by sale if you prefer) that success. 

Goals are the best way of keeping your business on the proverbial right track; many start ups begin to falter when they either lose sight of their goals or don’t bother setting them in the first place. Goal setting is the number one key to achieving the vision you have set for your company. 


Many people are put off goal setting because of the time involved in thinking about the business rather than doing something in the business.  But doing the business will be much easier if you are not simply bouncing through the business landscape with no clear destination in mind. 


Begin by deciding what future you want for your business.  It’s not enough to say you want it to be successful - everyone wants to be successful. You need to be specific - do you want it to grow internationally or to become a leader in its space? Do you want it to focus on providing great service and growing market share through that reputation or are you more interested in growing the bottom line as rapidly as possible. Short of aiming for something illegal, there is no right or wrong answer, but you must have some vision for the future of your company or you will find it difficult to engage others. 


Entrepreneur Justin Scott believes that having a shared vision with your team is a vital key to success. So this is the time  crystallise what your vision for the company is.  Where do you see it in say five years time? Is your focus on service, on giving back to the community, on profit or on growth? These are the goals that revolve around your passion, so be honest and be clear about them. The more energy and passion behind a goal, the higher the chance of success.   


Once you have established the answers, you can sit down with your team and discuss this long term view. Get their input and make changes if you need to, until your goals reflect the reasons you began your company in the first place. After all if you left your job because you hated creating widgets and now you are about to end up simply creating widgets because you haven’t planned properly, the chances are high you, your employees and your clients will all end up very unhappy.  


Don’t be afraid to adopt a little new age thinking either. Creating a Big Hairy Audacious Goal - a BHAG - has become something of a catch cry for business gurus and coaches, but it’s a valid exercise. The idea is to put in place the biggest possible goal - becoming the leading software designer in New Zealand by 2014 - and then working to achieve that. Just remember if you are going to set a BHAG - they are BIG and AUDACIOUS - so be ready to put all your energy, time, and possibly resources into it. Make sure it's feasible and do your homework now - not tomorrow. 


Apply a little relative thinking to your BHAG too - in other words big and audacious can be in the eye of the beholder. And be prepared for it to be a challenging process. Remember, that's part of the fun. 


Be flexible. Things in business can change faster than the weather, so be ready to tweak our goals if you need to. This is especially important in the two obvious extremes where you are either doing much better or much worse than you forecast you would be. Try not to be so attached to your vision that you can’t tweak it to be the best possible fit for your business.


Once you have your long term goals set and your team shares your vision, we’ll be ready to move on to short term goals. In the meantime why post a comment below about your start up’s long term vision. If you’re a tech based start up, we would love to hear about some of the particular challenges you may have faced when setting your vision. 

Image source here.