Setting goals is critical if you want to make your business dreams a successful reality. This is true whether you are just dreaming of starting a business, growing your new (less than a year old) business, or taking your long established business to the next level. There are advantages to writing down your goals and tracking your progress – it’s your roadmap to guide your business from where it is today to the destination of your dream(s).
Below, we’ll cover some steps you can take to make this YOUR YEAR to reach your entrepreneurial dreams.
First – Get the Dream out of your Head
This seems really basic, but it is a necessary step to take. You want to list out every dream you have for your business in the upcoming year on a sheet of paper. This can be as simple as – “I want to start a business selling widgets on Amazon” or “I want my sales to increase 100% this coming year.” List out everything you want to accomplish, even if you think you may not be able to turn that dream into a reality. While you are writing down your dreams, think about where you want to be in 12 months.
Second – Fine Tune your Dream List
Now that you have listed out your entrepreneurial dreams, you can start to fine tune which of those dreams can be fulfilled. There are many different ways to fine tune your dream list. This is where you may want to get help from your business coach who can work with you to determine which would fit best. A great tool at this stage is the Business Model Canvas. For the person who wants to sell widgets on Amazon, it helps outline the value those widgets will provide, who will benefit from those widgets, and ultimately begin the steps to know what is going to be needed to sell widgets on Amazon and if it appears to be a realistic (feasible and sustainable) business model.
Pro-tip: If your dream is to grow you’re already established business or add some new hires this year, you may need to access some working capital (get a loan). To help decide your options for working capital we suggest work closely with your business coach who can help you identify your best financing strategies.
Third – PLAN
Now that you have those dreams out of your head and on paper, pick one to start on. If your dream is to start a business in 2018, then pick that as your overall dream and then create the roadmap to that dream. On this roadmap list all the goals, milestones and tasks required to achieve your dream. Start with the next big goal such as write a business plan. From that you start to work backwards and list all the milestones you’ll need to accomplish to achieve that goal. From there each milestone will have a list of associated tasks.
Pro-Tip: Keep things S.M.A.R.T.
• S – Specific and Significant
• M – Measurable and Meaningful
• A – Attainable and Action-Oriented
• R – Relevant and Rewarding
• T – Time-bound and Trackable
Fourth – Small Steps will Yield Big Results
It’s extremely easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the desired result and the long road to achieving your dream. For those just starting don’t forget that small steps will get you to the destination. It’s really like doing a jigsaw puzzle – you cannot dump a brand new jigsaw puzzle out of a box and expect to see a completed picture. Instead, especially if you are like me, you dump the puzzle onto the table and maybe sort the edges from the middle pieces. Then, you take one edge piece at a time and put the outer edge together slowly but surely. To take this analogy one step further, since I work and have a family, I have to walk away from the puzzle and come back another day. This turns out to my benefit – if I tried to put an entire 1000 (or more) piece puzzle together in one afternoon, I would get overwhelmed. I might even give up on my desire to complete the puzzle and go do something different. But, since I have walked away periodically, I can slowly put some pieces of my puzzle in place and then take a break. I get a small sense of accomplishment when I fit a piece into the puzzle in its proper spot. With goal setting and milestones, you can get that same sense of accomplishment as you fulfill your goals and check off those milestones. Just take one goal at a time, and remember you do not have to accomplish a goal in one day, one week or even a month. Some will take longer than others. Just don’t give up – set your goals, track your progress through your milestones and achieve your dreams!
Pro-Tip: You are not alone! Successful entrepreneurs and business owners will tell you that starting or running a business is not something you do in isolation. Get out and start networking and utilizing the wealth of resources available to you! It is really easy to get a FREE business coach through the Veterans Business Outreach Center and the Women’s Business Center – you don’t even have to be a veteran or a woman to qualify for the free business coaching services. AND, it’s really easy to access the services. Just visit https://businessimpactnw.org/counseling/ for more information and access to registration for free business coaching.
About the author
Steve Watts-Oelrich, JD
Steve entered the Air Force right out of high school. During his time on active duty, he obtained his B.S. Degree in Workforce Education, Training and Development. After serving eight years, Steve honorably separated from the military and began law school a short time later. While in law school, he did a legislative externship to assist homeless parents in Washington State and he was elected Student Bar Association Treasurer. Steve got his J.D. from Seattle University School of Law in 1999. Upon passing the bar, Steve went into partnership with a law school classmate and then ultimately went solo. After closing the firm, Steve went to work as a counselor for incarcerated youth. He subsequently worked for some tech companies in a role of recruitment and training.