If you’re like most entrepreneurs, chances are that the resolutions you’ve made for 2010 are eerily similar to the resolutions you made for 2009. They’re probably the same resolutions you’ve been making for years.
There are certain natural milestones that seem to make us take pause and examine our small business successes and failures. For example, when closing the books on one year, and opening the books for the next, it’s hard for an entrepreneur not to reflect on the year that was.
What were your resolutions for 2009? How did you do? How many were accomplished? How SMART are your New Year’s resolutions this year?
Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams
The resolutions made by so many entrepreneurs remind me of this signature phrase from Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says that to resolve means “to reach a firm decision about,” or “to declare or decide by a formal resolution and vote.”
Resolutions, wishes, and dreams are a great start; however, you can’t make your business successful by resolving, dreaming, or wishing it to be so. All entrepreneurs possess these in abundance, but the successful entrepreneur translates these into goals – not just any goals though – they must be SMART goals.
What Makes Your Goals SMART?
I posted a three part series on goal setting by Zig Ziglar a few months ago that is a really great primer on the distinction between a goal and a wish. If you haven’t checked out this series I’d like to encourage you to do so.
Once you have gone through Zig’s Six Step Formula for Goal Setting, the next step is to evaluate your goals using the SMART mnemonic.
You need to spell out your goals in as much detail as possible. For instance, “I want to increase my sales this year” becomes “I want to increase my sales from existing clients by 25% over last year’s sales.” The more specific and concrete you make the goal the better – e.g., dollar amount instead of percentage.
Can Your Goal Be Easily Measured?
If you can’t measure it then it isn’t really a goal. You can’t measure “to increase customer satisfaction,” however, you can measure “to score over 90% on customer service surveys” or “reduce the number of returns by 20%.” Without the ability to measure and track your goals there is no accountability. If you take these two factors out of the equation then your goals have a slim chance of becoming a reality.
Is This Goal Attainable (or Achievable)?
There is probably nothing worse than chasing after windmills. Make sure that the goal you set is actually something that you have a reasonable chance of attaining. This doesn’t mean that your goals can’t be hard to reach – just not impossible.
Is Your Goal Relevant?
Make sure that your goal does what you are trying to accomplish. Increasing your sales is great, but if your profit margin or overhead is out of whack then you are probably not going to achieve the larger bottom line you are after. In fact, setting the wrong goals can often make your situation worse.
What is the Time Frame for Accomplishing the Goal?
Unless you set deadlines for your goals they are not much better than the traditional New Year’s resolution. When setting goals we need to make sure that we have a completion date, but also that we have various milestones( or shorter-term goals) if the completion date is more than 3 to 6 months out. It’s hard to work on a goal today that has a completion date five years away.
How Did Your Goals Do?
How did your goals fare? Do you follow Zig’s Six Step Formula for Goal Setting? It’s a great formula. If so, how SMART are your goals for this year?
I know much of this sounds just like common sense, but you’d be surprised at just how uncommon it has become among entrepreneurs today.
Laying a good foundation is rarely complicated, but it is almost always time consuming. Any good builder will tell you that taking short cuts here will never support whatever you build on top of it. Build your business with a SMART foundation.