Starting a business can be an arduous process and it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed equals underproductive, and that’s a big-time bad. So how do you avoid becoming an anxious wreck while simultaneously making epically awesome advancements in your venture? By setting goals for your business. More importantly, you need to set SMART goals.
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Setting SMART Goals for Your Business
Setting goals for your business is good, but having SMART goals is better. What the heck are SMART goals, exactly? They’re goals that are:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Results-Oriented
T – Time-Sensitive
When setting goals for your business, it’s really important to keep all of these factors in mind. That being said, however, you should also read Mark Murphy’s article, ‘SMART’ Goals Can Sometimes Be Dumb. He explains that while goals being specific and measurable is definitely good, always making your goals achievable and realistic can actually hinder your productivity. This makes sense, to a degree, because sometimes we need those wacky, farfetched, and almost unimaginable objectives to help us achieve the “impossible.” But we also need to feel the thrill and excitement of accomplishment in order to keep us moving forward.
I’ve found that it’s best to include both.
You’ll probably discover that setting goals for your business, in general, will keep you more accountable – at the very least, you’ll always be moving forward. The SMART system will help to refine your goals and make measuring your progress easier as you grow. You should, however, make sure you throw in a few wildcard goals, or stretch goals, as my husband likes to call them. Those are the “wouldn’t it be crazy if…” kinda goals intended to make you work toward something you never thought possible.
Your Full-Time Goal
“When can I go full-time?” This is a big question for people starting a new business, but the answer is different for everyone. You’ll have to take into consideration your own needs when making this decision, but here’s a little bit about my experience on the subject.
I actually started selling things on eBay purely as a side-gig. I was working a full-time job that often demanded 60-70 hours a week, after all, and I had absolutely no clue that someone like me (average Joe and all) could start a business. I certainly never imagined I could do it full-time! As things kicked into gear, though, I started to see the true potential.
From that point on, all of my business goals became centered on creating a viable and sustainablesource of income so that I would never have to work for someone else again. I was shooting to go full-time in a year, but when my contract ended six months later, I found myself in a position where I felt comfortable enough to make the transition then…way ahead of schedule.
And that’s what often happens.
Many people who start businesses will set their sights on a specific date (or income) by which they want to start working for themselves full-time. You should do this too, even if it’s just as a stretch goal. There’s a good chance that, like others, you’ll find yourself able to move up your goal based on your results and other changes to your circumstances.
Your Income Goals
My initial income goals were pretty small. I set out to bring home $50 during my first month. That was money in my pocket, not money I planned to reinvest. Anything over $50 was going right back into my business. The next month I shot for $100 and the month after that, my goal was $200. At $400 I planned to start increasing by $200 each month so that by the end of the year I would be paying myself $1800 (which was just under my “real job” take-home).
Personally, I was very intentional about keeping as much money in my business as possible while I had a full-time paycheck coming in. My rationale for this was that it would grow my business and increase potential profits significantly faster in the long run.
Whether you plan to do the same or not, I recommend you set a mid-year income goal and a year-end income goal.
Consider making your mid-year goal half of your current salary and your year-end goal your total current salary. You could also calculate the bare minimum you need to get by each month and use that total as a bases for your goals if you prefer.
Setting these two income goals will provide you with focus and help you be efficient in your time management.
You should always be on the lookout for ways to work less and make more. It’s about working smarter, not harder. Sure, it’s great to be bringing in loads of cash each month, but what good does it do you if you’re working 70-hour weeks in order to maintain it? So when you’re setting goals for your business, make sure they focus on allowing you to work less and make the same (or more) money.
The further you progress in your business, the easier it will become to identify the best goals. The important thing is to remember to continually set new ones; even if you fall short, at least you’re still moving forward.