Defining Business Goals = What Do You Want to Accomplish?
When I first launched my business and began networking and taking clients, I was surprised to discover how many business owners hadn’t defined their business goals and objectives. They knew they wanted “success,” but they didn’t have a real definition of what that meant to them.
As business owners, we all know we’re supposed to have goals, but all too many of us don’t take the time to truly identify, define, and outline what those goals are. And for many entrepreneurs who don’t develop a business plan (not always necessary), their business goals are never defined in a way that’s helpful. And this is a huge mistake! Frankly, your goals and objectives are the first thing you need to address when it comes to developing your messaging and brand.
Every product or service we develop, every campaign we devise, everything we do within our business has an objective. We set a goal for it, and take action. However, what I’m talking about today is the over-arching business goals, the core objectives of your business that drives ALL your decisions and actions. This is your long-term goal versus your short-term goals for specific aspects of your business and marketing.
How To Develop Your Business Goals
When working on messaging for clients, I tend to take them through a basic, but thorough process. There are certain questions to ask yourself, and each needs you to take the time to answer thoughtfully. I like to break goals and objectives questions into categories, primarily financial, personal, and social.
This is an enormously important part of your business goal setting. You started a business, which by definition means it ought to make money. Now, you may have independent income which takes off some pressure, but for most business owners, it’s not a hobby, it’s a way to make a living. The only way to know if your business will do that for you is to attach numbers to it … and then go beyond that in the following categories. Because you may say you’d like to make six figures or seven figures, but why? What does that represent for you? Think of your financial goals in terms of your business AND yourself. Look at:
- What are your business costs? What do you have to make to break even?
- What growth do you want to see? Do you need additional capital to make that happen? (New equipment, employees, etc.) What income amount does your business need in order for you to grow this year, next year, and the year after?
- What salary do you NEED to bring home? What would you LIKE to take home?
If you’re struggling with this piece, it’s a good idea to sit down with an accountant who can help you figure out your numbers.
This category works off the previous question of your personal salary and will help answer that question. Looking at your business goals and objectives from a personal viewpoint, you can begin to answer some lifestyle questions that impact you, and potentially your family.
Lifestyle questions are completely subjective; what works great for one won’t be enough for another. We all value different things and there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer for all. This is why it takes some time… you need to really think about what you need, what you want above that (think comfortable living versus surviving), and what you’d like to have because it’d be fun or fulfill you somehow. So, to that end, be sure to ask yourself the following:
- What is the lifestyle I want for myself? Do I want to travel? Do I want to own a home? What kind of home? How big? Is there land associated with it? What will that cost to upkeep? Do I want to rent, instead? Do I want a vacation home? What kind of car do I want/need? Do I want to be able to buy new wardrobe items each season or year? What do I want and need for self-care? Are monthly massages or mani/pedis important? Do I need extra money for things like copays and medication? Is eating out important to me socially? Is buying organic food important to me? Do I have things I want to do for fun like take horseback riding lessons or learn how to skydive?
- Extend the lifestyle question to your family and ask: Do I want my kids to have “extras” like summer camp, dancing lessons, sports equipment, digital gadgets, etc? Do my kids need cars as they hit driving age? Look beyond your basic living needs and decide what you and your family want to make living life comfortable and enjoyable.
- And don’t forget the education piece! For some families, this is an enormous cost. For some, it’s only college that will cost, but for others, it’s private school from kindergarten til high school graduation. Only you know what will be best for your children and family overall.
You have your personal goals, but understand your business can help meet them — but only if you first define your goals and objectives!
Not everyone will have a social goal associated with their business — whether directly or indirectly. I think about this category as the philanthropic, “give back” category. I like to ask my clients, “What do you care about? Is there a cause you’d like to support?” For some, just focusing on providing their kids a way to go to college is enough. For others, there are passions that run from the environment, to helping at-risk youth, to helping the local food bank, to all the other myriad ways we can give back to our communities. But in order to do this, you have to define your social objective.
- If you want your business to have a philanthropic aspect, you’ll need to consider how much money you can afford to donate to charity OR how much pro bono work you may offer. Keep in mind, you may set a philanthropic goal for your business but be unable to meet it for a few years until your business is solidly bringing in the numbers and that’s ok! But you’ll never meet your goal if you don’t first define it.
- If it’s not practical or doesn’t make sense for a social cause to be directly linked to your business, then you may want to look at your salary. If you make enough money to meet your needs and wants, how much is left to donate to your chosen cause? Again, this is subjective and answers only to what you feel is right.
- Don’t forget time is a resource you can donate! You can also choose to set up your business so that you have a certain number of hours of time each week, month, or year you donate for pro-bono services or some hands-on help. If you’d like to investigate these type of options, Volunteer Match is a great site for linking up people with local organizations who need help.
Goals & Objectives, Basic But Vital!
These may seem like basic points, but I’ve found that too many people start a business because they’re passionate about something, but they never stop to think about the big picture goals they want to accomplish. This process will begin to feed all the other elements of your messaging AND it will help you stay focused when you’re in the business trenches … so, go define your goals! 🙂