How to Actually Achieve Your Business Goals (Six Practical Steps)
Setting concrete goals for your business is a wise thing to do. What isn’t so wise is subsequently forgetting them. Or not setting aside enough time to achieve them. Or giving up them because you haven’t worked out how to achieve them. Sort of defeats the object of the exercise, doesn’t it?
So what can you do to avoid setting yourself up for failure? In my previous article on setting goals (and why it’s such a great idea to do that), I mentioned that your goals need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound).
Here’s an example. Your goal is to build traffic to your website. Trouble is, that’s not a SMART goal. A SMART goal would be to increase number of visits and unique visitors to your website by 300% by 31 Dec 2016.
Once you’ve listed your SMART goals, you need to make sure you achieve them. So here are six steps to help you do just that.
1. Create visual reminders
The first step is to make sure you come face to face with your goals on a regular basis. You can do this the old-fashioned way: put the list on a white board or pin board in your office or even the bathroom (you go there every day, right?).
How about creating a vizualisation board and adding a few inspirational quotes or images next to them? You could even use giant post-it notes. If you want to be more 21st century, set them as your desktop’s wallpaper or screen saver.
Whatever method you choose, make sure you see them regularly without any effort on your part. If you have to open up a desk drawer or an application to set eyes on them, you’re setting up an obstacle that you may not want to jump each time.
2. Break your goals down into manageable chunks
My previous article also explained that goals tell you where you want to go but objectives tell you exactly how to get there. So your objectives for the goal above may include:
- Set up Google Analytics to measure number of visits and visitors to website: 1 Jan 2016
- Start a weekly blog aimed at [target audience]: 15 Jan 2016
- Start a Facebook business page to lead [target audience] back to website: 1 Feb 2016
- Set up a Pinterest board for [target audience] to follow: 1 Mar 2016.
Note that these objectives are also SMART (smart, eh?)
3. Make appointments with yourself
You’ve listed your goals, and you’ve worked out your objectives. Now you need to put them in your calendar. Yes. That means making a commitment to yourself. Scary, I know but, if you don’t commit, you won’t achieve.
Whether you use a calendar that hangs on the wall, fits in your handbag or pops up on your screen is irrelevant. Just as long as it’s the calendar you use regularly. You don’t want to miss those important dates.
Do add reminders to avoid being surprised by a deadline. The last thing you want is to suddenly realize you need to set up your Facebook business tomorrow but you’re booked up with meetings all day (tip: things of do dates not due dates).
Digital calendars offer a variety of ways to get reminders sent automatically to your inbox. I like Google calendar because I can synch it across all my devices, access it offline, share it with others. And its free. But there are loads of alternatives out there.
So, get in the habit of setting a ‘do date’ every time you make an appointment with yourself.
4. Track your progress
Calendars are an essential tool in goal setting, but their usefulness can be enhanced significantly with an app. Most time management tools work across all your devices, which is really convenient. Some work off-line, some are free, and some charge a small monthly subscription. But they all help you track your progress towards achieving your goals. Just find one that suits you. There are oodles to choose from, but here’s a few I’ve come across and like the look of:
Wunderlist: lets you organize your to-do lists, set due dates and reminders, and assign tasks. The basic app is free, or you can pay for a pro or business version for $5 a month.
Lifetick: helps you establish core values, follow the SMART methodology, write about your experiences, track your habits, capture dreams and chart your progress. There’s a free version or you can pay $49 a year for more options.
GoalsOnTrack: you can create goals and sub-goals, see progress in real time, use sample goal templates and action plans, organize to-do-lists automatically by goal, category and day, print out a daily planner and track how long you spend on tasks. Membership is $68 a year.
Joesgoals: a popular, free tool that helps you track your daily goals with a simple single page interface. Watch your daily score to gage your success and use negative goals (or vices) to confront and overcome bad habits that finally need to get the boot.
Trello: a great tool for gathering ideas and managing projects
I’ve recently started using Trello. I found it incredibly easy to get going with it. You simply create a card to put on your notice board. These cards accept comments, attachments, votes, due dates and checklists, so you can keep track of everything, from the big picture to the small details. If you want to move anything, jus drag ‘n’ drop. Visualizing all your goals and objectives in this way is a great way to motivate yourself.
5. Get regular encouragement
Working towards your goals can sometimes be a lonely experience, especially if you’re a freelancer. And loneliness can lead to discouragement, which can lead to failure. So it’s important that you get encouragement from others, whether that’s your peers or colleagues or your loved ones.
Most of the tools listed above let you share your goals and achievements with others. This not only commits you fully but also enables you to get cheered on by those that care.
Digital is not the only way to get your encouragement though. I’ve joined a local mastermind group, which bring together a small number of local entrepreneurs twice a month to discuss wins, challenges and goals. In between each session we call, text and Facebook (we have our own private page) to check progress and offer help and ideas. It’s extremely motivating, and we all need a bit of external motivation from time to time, don’t we?
6. Celebrate milestones
Of course, once you’ve achieved one of your goals, I think it’s only fair to give yourself a pat on the back. So celebrate. Whether it’s a trip to the spa, and night out with your mates, or a night in with your feet up and a glass of wine, take time out for a little enjoyment. You’ve worked hard, so enjoy the moment. Then you can look forward to the next celebration.