You didn't get here without having a goal in mind. Whether it was world domination, a platform for your ideas or a chance to connect with others, bringing your business to life was the realization of a pretty big goal. But now that you're here, what do your goals look like? Do you write them down? Do they connect with each other? Do you share them with your team?

I'm not just talking money here. Financial goals are important, but we have to look past the numbers and set markers for growth that go beyond the spreadsheet.

  • Financial goals: revenue, taxes, profitability
  • Cultural goals: benefits packages, work/life balance, engagement
  • Operational goals: efficiency, process, technology, physical and human resources
  • Organizational goals: clients, products/services, public awareness

In the race of life and work, getting our thoughts crystal clear, out of our heads and recorded somewhere can tumble down the priority chain, especially when you're putting out fires. But without taking a little quiet time to sort out what you're feeling, where you'd like to be and even how you might get there, putting out fires may be all you'll ever do.

Stating goals, making them clear and sharing them with the world gives us something to work toward. It's likely that, as you lead your organization, everyone is impacted by where you'd like to go, so by sharing we can check our ideas against important perspectives, make them better with additional voices and ease the ambiguity and uncertainty that stifles group growth. Remember, none of us is as smart as all of us.

The goals you set, no matter the specific area of impact, should intersect with and support each other. We advocate for breaking down those walls that traditionally partition one part of the business from the other — everything connects to everything else and aligning goals across your business will help you focus your efforts and get you there more efficiently.

And no, clarifying your goals isn't as simple as writing them down. You have to share them with your organization and get everyone on board. By communicating where you want to go and what you want to do with the people that will help you along the way, you're giving your goals a chance by taking everyone with you.

Now that you have a clear list of goals that span all facets of your business, let's break them up by effort and time. Ask yourself what it's going to take to reach each goal and decide by when you want to have each goal completed. By splitting up the short- and long-term goals, and sorting them further from those requiring the least amount of effort (in terms of resources, planning, etc.) to the most, you'll give your team a chance to grab the lowest hanging fruit quickly, turning success into momentum for the mid- to long-term goal-smashing efforts.

Cheat sheet:

  • Write 'em down.
  • Push beyond financial goals and build a comprehensive wish list for your entire organization — from culture to operations.
  • Make sure that you define the connections between financial, cultural, operational and organizational goals.
  • Organize your goals by short- and long-term, least to most effort.
  • Work backwards from your goals to see what's required to get there.
  • Make sure the team knows and understands where they're going and how they'll get there.

For more insights by Dan Nicholson, check out his contributor page.

Tags: Business Strategy Business Goals