What if there wasn’t a finish line at the end of a marathon you were running?
While some diehard runners may continue to push for their own personal bests, others won’t see the task as worthwhile without a definite ending or sense of accomplishment in sight for all their long hours of training.
Now think of your employees as these runners.
Without setting goals for your business — or a finish line to run towards — you run the risk of your employees working their hardest but not working towards the success of your business (if they’re motivated at all).
Furthermore, when you don’t define goals for your brand, how will you ever know when you’ve hit them?
See, goals help everyone focus on achieving the same outcome and give direction to all tasks, decisions, and day-to-day operations of your business.
Whether everyone’s concentrating on boosting sales, increasing brand awareness, or simply trimming the fat to keep your margins healthy, it helps when you’re all on the same team working for the same end.
That’s why today we’re going to talk about why you need to create goals for your business ASAP.
You’ll Never Know Success if You Don’t Create Goals First
What does success look like to your company?
Certain business owners define success as a specific amount in their bank accounts. Others want to dominate their chosen niche.
Most entrepreneurs only know they want to keep growing their business and expanding their services profitably.
But you’ll need to nail down a more specific goal than that.
When you set specific, measurable, and achievable business goals for your company, you’ll not only give your brand and your employees a long-term vision for your success, but a clear way to jump over the short-term hurdles on the way to the finish line.
Clearly Defined Goals Will Guide Your Company’s Decision-Making
It’s not enough to simply create goals for your business and include them in all your new hire paperwork.
Your goals need to be everywhere and at the forefront of all your employees’ thoughts and actions.
So make your goals readily available for all your employees to see — the more public the better.
As entrepreneur Mark Suster writes, “Transparency of goals drives performance because it creates both a commitment and a sense of urgency. Commitment and urgency are key drivers of success in startup businesses.”
For example, if one of your goals is to reach 10k new email subscribers by the end of the year, it will be a no-brainer to beef up your marketing content and social media promotion. These align with your goal.
If anything strays from your goal — like sending out paper mailers — you know not to waste any more time or money on it.
This demolishes uncertainty for your employees as they always know where the compass points and which direction to take.
This may seem like it’s more for the employees (we’ll get to them next), but this task is also helpful for startup founders and senior management.
During your growth phase, it’s easy to follow threads that may seem like they’ll lead to profitable outcomes only to be disappointed later down the line.
Setting definite goals keeps your focus and commitment on track so you don’t get distracted by opportunities outside your vision.
Goals Give Your Employees a Roadmap to Follow
Everyone wants to crush it at work.
Employees do better when they have clear expectations from management, rather than working with a vague notion of how their work fits in with broader company goals.
Instead of fumbling around, your employees will have a single direction to follow to achieve the goals you set forth.
This tunnel vision will encourage problem solving and a deeper focus on the issues holding back your brand from success.
Remember, every one of your employees has a role to play in helping your brand achieve greatness.
When they understand their direction, they’ll collaborate more effectively and channel their efforts for higher productivity.
Pro Tip: Ask Your Employees for their Advice
No one knows what’s actually achievable more than your employees in the trenches day in and day out.
And yet nothing’s more frustrating to an employee than a member of senior management creating an unattainable goal for them to strive for.
If your employees in sales have never cracked more than 1,000 new leads a month — even in your best years — forcing them to reach a goal of 10,000 isn’t the smartest.
Not only does this show a lack of understanding on your part, it creates a stressful situation for your employees who know they’ll never get to reach this accomplishment in reality.
So don’t be surprised if your employees lose motivation by poorly set goals.
To avoid this, ask your crew for their advice during a goal-setting brainstorming session. Discuss what can be achieved using your resources and find an attainable challenge to take on as a team.
You never know what your employees may suggest; something that may have been off your radar could be the secret to your future glory.
But Your Goals Need Set Deadlines to Work in Your Favor
Your company should have both large-scale goals (think: opening several offices across the country) and mini-goals (opening one in a new location this year) with definite deadlines.
So take a look at your annual, three-year, and even five-year plans to come up with broad deadlines and then set shorter deadlines for your quarterly, monthly, or even weekly goals.
Deadlines make everyone work faster.
They create a finite time for your employees to get their tasks done with a bit of urgency and pressure tagging along. Deadlines also make it easy to plan ahead.
Just don’t set unrealistic deadlines that cause stress amongst your team. Ask your employees to define a reasonable timeframe to meet the goals you set forth instead.
Always Determine Which Metrics You’ll Use to Define Success
According to a survey by Staples, more than 80% of small businesses owners fail to keep track of their business goal setting — and 77% of them haven’t achieved their vision for their company.
This correlation between reaching success and monitoring progress isn’t that surprising.
How will you know if your efforts to reach your goals are working?
When you determine which metrics you’ll be using to track and monitor your progress, you’ll have a way to strategically plan your next moves.
A business planning to increase their social media presence, for example, may set a quota or target of ‘likes’, comments, or new followers to reach.
Or you may set a goal for open or click through rates to gauge how your email campaign is going.
Without the concrete data these metrics provide, you’ll never know if you should continue, tweak, or scrap the work your team is doing.
Learning this will help you laser focus your efforts and vastly improve your results.
Celebrate Every Victory
When you create solid goals that can be reached — and you monitor your progress — you’ll wind up in the winner’s circle more often than businesses that skip this process entirely.
That’s cause for celebration!
Take the time to recognize each of your employees for their hard work and make sure they know that your win as a company couldn’t have been achieved without them.
Consider calling it an early day Friday and treating the crew to happy hour as a thanks for all their long hours and dedication.
When you acknowledge that your team accomplished the goals you created, your employees will not only feel as if they’ve contributed something of meaning, made a difference, and kicked butt in their position, they’ll want to keep doing it for you in the future.
Ready to Set a Few Goals for Your Business?
While setting goals won’t make your company a success overnight, it does give you a broad understanding of where you are in the present and how much work you’ll need to put in to achieve your goals in the future.
With goals in place, however, you and your employees will always know in which direction to head. Set up a way to measure their efforts — and tweak or scrap what’s not working — to keep your eye on the prize.