“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” —Pablo Picasso

A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

For many, starting a new year means setting goals. What are the secrets to setting effective goals? My advice is to make them lofty yet achievable; set metrics to use in determining success; and set time frames/deadlines.

Before Setting Goals

Conducting a SWOT can prove useful in creating, “a high-level strategic planning model that will help you identify where your organization can improve and where it’s doing well,” as explained by this ClearPoint Strategy article. SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and measuring these aspects of your business will create a baseline on which a realistic goal can be set.

That same ClearPoint article also suggests that you then analyze the market and your past performance to see where the industry and your business should be heading. A couple of concluding factors to consider before setting your business goals is to take input from colleagues and employees to get a ground-floor perspective, and to determine who will be “participating in the goal-setting exercise.” With these variables accounted for, the goal can be realistically measured and set.

Setting the Goal Itself

After measuring and setting a realistic business goal, achieving it comes down to how specific and long-term it is. With regard to how specific it is, this article from Entreprenuer explains that a hypothetical goal of “raising $10,000 by July 1” is more achievable than something like “raising capital.”

As for the timeframe, setting both short-term and long-term goals is a must. Short-term goals should be set to be attainable in a matter of weeks or a single year while long-term ones can be “five, 10 or even 20 years.” It should be stressed that long-term goals are greater than short-term ones while still remaining attainable.

Lastly, this article from The Balance Small Business mentions that these types of goals should not be mutually exclusive. Rather, they should be related. For example, if your long-term goal is “to attain $200,000 a year in sales, then your short-term goals would correlate to this” with an interim goal that is a step to the larger one.

Setting a business goal can be a realistic and attainable endeavor based on what your capabilities. Long-term goals are attained as a result of achieving a series of short-term ones. The point is to have a plan in which you fervently believe and on which you vigorously act. As Picasso said, there is no other route to success.

A version of this post first published in the St. Conti Communications blog.