How Important Are Your Goals?

Posted on December 3, 2017 by Phil Elworth

While I am a strong believer that setting clear and written goals is critical to success, I have come to understand that setting the goal and reviewing it is not enough.  To be successful in achieving the goal you need to visualize what it really means to you.  When you have set your goal, sit back and ask yourself the question; what it would mean for me (or our organization) to achieve this goal? 

For example, if you had the goal is for your company is to hit $100 million in revenue per year.  Ask yourself the question, what would it mean for me as an owner to hit $100 million per year?  Would this mean that you could then sell the business?  Would it mean that you create the cash flow to start the project you have always wanted to do?  Do you want to make more money so you can be more philanthropic?   The more you can identify the real reason you want to achieve a goal, the more you will be motivated to achieve it and the clearer the direction you can impart to the organization overall.

One of the main goals that every business owner must tackle is the final disposition of the business when their term is up.  It does not matter if this goal is 25 years from now or 25 days.  If you cannot clearly articulate what you want to happen to your business now, how can you then define what will happen to the business when your time is up?  The adage that you should run your business as if you were going to sell it tomorrow is a principal that will help you develop a better business.  You do not need to communicate this plan to all your employees as long as you can define the why you are driving forward.  Why are you starting a cost cutting process, why are you developing new products, why are you looking to expand in certain regions?  Employees want to participate in something bigger than just their job so bring them along.  If they are helping you create value then reward them accordingly.  It’s a win-win.

Many of the organizations I have worked with in my career have failed to accomplish this.  The owners just would not articulate what they wanted to have happen.  One owner I worked for, which was a second-generation business, came in one day and said, we are done we are selling assets.  What a demoralizing decision for the staff.  All the work we had done to build a great culture and a profitable business was washed away overnight.  In addition, what I have experienced is that when there is no clear long-term goal for an organization the organization fractures into silos with each silo creating its’ own goal.  This often pits one division against another for power and resources, or in the case of one business I have seen, the employees give up and refuse to make decisions because they don’t understand the direction and don’t want to make a mistake.

In this season, as we move toward the holidays and year end, it is a time for all of us to reflect on the past year, what have we achieved; What have we yet to achieve; what do we want to achieve?  The success of an organization rests in the leadership of the organization.  Empower your leadership team to move the business forward, just take the time to provide them the road map.

If you don’t know where to begin, I would suggest you start with Stephen Covey’s phrase in the book the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, start with the end in mind.  If you could sit back and dream about your business what do you see?  On your last day of work, what do you see happening to the keys to the front door?  A buyer, your managers, your employees your family?  When you land on the big picture it is then much easier to sit back and decide what exactly you need to get there.

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