by Ray Silverstein
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably made a New Year’s resolution or set goals for your business in 2012.
Goal-setting is a wonderful thing. It’s an opportunity to think things through and recommit yourself to what you love. But there’s a vast chasm between setting goals and achieving them. Somewhere between January and December, most goals fall by the wayside.
Setting goals is easy. It’s fun. Realizing them is hard. It’s work. But there are strategies you can employ that will help. They’re not big and glamorous, like goals often are. They’re dig-in, roll-up-your-sleeves…well, labor. But if you want to reach your goals — not just dream about them — labor is required.
Define your goals in measurable terms.
Studies show that when business owners set measurable goals, they’re more likely to attain them. So, instead of saying, “I want to increase my business,” say, “I want to increase my business by 8% in six months.”
Create a detailed action plan.
You don’t drive somewhere new without a map or GPS. The same goes for achieving goals: you need a specific, turn-by-turn, action plan. Sure, you’re all fired up and raring to go right now. But your efforts will be wasted if what you’re doing isn’t smart or meaningful. Say, “I want to increase my business by 8% in six months… and here’s how I’ll do it.”
Break it down into small steps.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Set measurable, achievable mini-goals for yourself. It’s like losing weight. You don’t lose 20 lbs. overnight. You lose weight one lb., one meal, one calorie at a time.
Set a timeline for yourself.
Attach a deadline to each of your mini-goals. This will force you to stay on track and give you a tool for measuring your progress.
Put it in writing.
Studies show that there is a unique power that comes from writing down your ideas. Capturing ideas in writing forces you to think in concrete terms and often leads to more inspiration. Besides, your action plan is your road map; you’re going to need to see it in order to follow it.
Keep your plan in view.
Out of sight, out of mind. Keep your plan accessible. Review it often and update it compulsively. Make weekly appointments with yourself to ensure you stay on track.
Share your goals.
When you tell people about your plans, it forces you to be accountable. According to a study, people who wrote down their goals, shared them with others and then provided regular updates were 33% more successful in actually achieving their goals.
Make it first on your to do list.
Do one small, tiny thing related to your goal every day. Want to make sure it gets done? Make it the very first item on your daily to-do list. That way, you can’t procrastinate.
Many people set the same goals every year, because they never realize them. If you are one of those people, try looking at your business with fresh eyes. Remember, behind every realized goal is a step-by-step action plan. The hardest step is the first one. But that’s no reason not to get moving.
Ray Silverstein is a recognized small business expert and president of PRO (propres.com), a nationwide network of small business peer groups. Ray is also the author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses” (bestsmallbizsecrets.com)