When you run your own business, you’re the person deciding on the direction. You’re in control of start dates and marketing promos. You’re the one who must hold yourself back from the shiny object syndrome.
And yet, so many of us fail on that last one and it’s easy to understand why.
Open your social media feeds or search on the internet for business advice and you’ll find dozens of articles that tell you what you need to be doing for your business this year—things you need to implement, apps you need to download, widgets needed on your website, and a host of other projects you would be remiss not to implement immediately.
And they all sound so wonderful. Things your audience will love, will drive more sales, help you become better known.
But if you take off in hot pursuit of them all, you won’t accomplish any of them.
Pick a Goal, Pick a Timeframe
Yes, there may be many things you need or want to do for your business, but you have a better chance of completing them if you concentrate on 1-3 goals at a time. If you have more than three things you want to institute in your business this year, you can still do them after you complete the first three. Some professionals have new goals each month, quarter, or every six months.
Treat business goal setting the way you do eating. Don’t pile mounds on your plate just because it looks delicious. Take one helping first and when you’re finished with that, come back for more.
Cluster Your Goals
If you have an auspicious agenda this year, cluster the goals that naturally fit together. For instance, if your goals are more followers on social media, being consistent in your blog posting, and implementing a new training program for your employees, know that the first two can easily be stitched together as good blog content gives you something valuable to post to social media (and thus, get more followers). The third goal is better as a standalone.
Select a Quarter for New Launches
My writing business has two facets—business marketing writing and fiction writing. My business writing trumps my fiction writing because it pays the bills. But my fiction will never have a chance to pay the bills if I don’t give it the attention it needs to take off. The same may be true for an area of your business. For instance, perhaps you own a food truck, and you’ve considered adding a brick-and-mortar location. If those thoughts are just thoughts, your café will never take shape. You must open to see if your business idea will work.
But there’s a lot of planning involved before you can do so. Pick a quarter (or season or even a month) and dedicate your free time during that period to work the pieces you need to get closer to your launch goal.
Which brings us to…
Schedule Time and Purpose
It’s great to use free time to explore ideas for your business but your free time is likely limited, and it can be frustrating to save something for your free time only to be discouraged when your free time is usurped by something else. That’s why you also need to set aside time in your schedule each week for goal attainment.
This is not an hour set aside to think about your idea, although that is a necessary thing early on. But if you want to be successful in meeting your goal, you need to map out what it will take and break that up into smaller, attainable pieces that you can schedule. In our restaurant example, a task might be listing all the restaurants in an area of town you’re considering for your café. It might be reaching out to the local chamber to find out what development projects are in the works. Whatever you assign for this time should be measurable. At the end of your time block you should know whether you accomplished it or not. If your goal was thinking about opening your restaurant, you may have done that but there is no end point. You could “think” about it for the next decade. However, if your task was to call three landlords for potential spots, you know definitively whether that was completed or not.
This year don’t try to do it all. Pick 1-3 things that will advance your business and map out how you will get there. Then assign time to make it happen. We all get excited about ideas, but the real excitement should lie in your ability to accomplish them. That starts with making the most important ones a priority. Just like in your personal life, you make things a priority by giving them your undivided attention.
Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so.
Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.