Sunday, January 13, 2013

How Important is Goal Setting - Business Tip # 12

Think about a goal in terms of sports. In a football game, for example, the goal is the terminating point of a play. The team with the most goals wins the game. But in this framework, the goal is more than just where you want to end up, it is a direction to be facing while you are playing the game. It is the finish line toward which your efforts are aimed. But when you ask a pro football player what football is all about, he will not say the touchdown. He will most likely say the game. This is the crucial distinction we believe you should keep in mind when setting goals as an entrepreneur.

It is important to recognize your goal as the intended destination of your efforts. Clearly then, if you fail to set a goal, your efforts will have no direction. Most people are good at setting general goals, and therefore believe they have the necessary skill set. Do not fall into this trap.

Being a successful entrepreneur involves setting concrete and specific goals for yourself. The difference lies between saying generally, "1 will expand my marketing tactics," and stating specifically, "I will identify two more local customer pools by next month, and I will advertise in more papers and hand out more flyers until I have doubled my revenues, hopefully by six months from now." If you give yourself specific and reasonable personal due dates and time limits, you are more likely to get things done. You are also likely to set realistic goals, and not stretch yourself. Having only yourself to answer to, you learn how to keep the pressure on yourself. The fear of disappointing yourself can be almost as scary as the fear of disappointing a boss. Being your own boss involves a healthy dose of self-guilt, and setting specific goals gives you concrete measures of your progress.

While setting your goals, it is necessary to recognize the difference between long- and short-term goals, and to address both kinds. Standard economic theory distinguishes between the long- and short-term based on the time it takes a company's level of capital stock to be variable. In the short-term, the level of capital stock is fixed; in the long-term, it is variable. The economics majors among you will be familiar with this idea. But for a start-up entrepreneur, the distinction should be made clear along other lines. Basically, the short-term can be seen as the time before which no formal partnerships or final deals are made. It must be redefined based on each individual project, but intuitively it is the time frame from today to the end of the month.

When you are making plans in the short term, you must concern yourself with near-term events. Short-term goal setting is about organization more than aspirations. Each day should begin with a list of things to achieve, written at bedtime the night before. We cannot emphasize enough the value of lists. It may sound unnecessary, but a to-do list is the best way of getting the most out of your day. Organizing your affairs is quite a task without a secretary, and short-term goal setting is the most efficient way to go about it. Your goal should be to accomplish everything on that list today.

Long-term goal setting is about direction. While you should set specific timelines for the completion of your long-term goals, these should be somewhat flexible. The long-term goal itself is meant as a prize to keep your eyes on. It gives you direction, but it does not mandate your path. It ' is a finish line to work toward.

Whereas short-term goal setting is about organization, long-term goal setting is more about direction. Both, however, are about accountability. When you are organized and headed in the right direction, and have specific goals to achieve, you generally cannot go wrong.

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