Goal Setting – Are You Being Strategic?

Road-Map-290x220Every business owner, regardless of how big or small their business is, needs goals to keep their business moving forward, their employees motivated and to maintain momentum. There are many different approaches to goal setting, and each one can be as successful as the next.

As a business owner you should define short and long term goals, and establish a plan for how to get there. Goals set for your business should align with your personal goals, and be fueled by a big-picture, forward-thinking perspective. Without strategic goals, you may struggle to find the path from where your business currently stands to where you’d like it to be.

I’ve put together some goal-setting tips that should help you achieve even your most ambitious business goals!

Tips for Goal Setting

Determine who you are and where you stand. Determine what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats may be helping or hindering you from reaching success. Ask yourself why you began the company — does that old spark still drive your business as it is now? Revisit your personal vision and reflect on how your company has evolved.

Write your goals down. Putting your goals in writing and sharing them with your team confirms your commitment to achieving them. While brainstorming is a great place to start, without writing down your goals your focus will fade. Force yourself to focus by outlining specific goals you and your company can work toward.

You may even find writing your goals down to be exciting! In my experience, goal setting brings out the optimism and ambition in myself and my colleagues, and acts as a reminder of how much good we all have to look forward to.

Have realistic expectations. Setting unattainable goals won’t lead you to success, and it certainly won’t give you the motivation needed to get there. Goals should be attainable through hard work and effort, and focused around the most important aspects of your business. The goals you set should challenge you and your team.

Establish milestones so you can track and measure success. By failing to plan, you are essentially planning to fail! Think about short and long-term success, and visualize what will help keep you and your team motivated. Have a schedule and set monthly milestones so you can track whether or not you are accomplishing the things you wish to. While tracking your success (or failures… because it happens!) you will be able to see what roadblocks lay ahead, and how you can get over them to come out on top. Once you reach a milestone don’t forget to celebrate!

Think of how your goals affect your whole team. While goal setting, be tactical and set goals for individuals, different departments, and the business as a whole. Have employees contribute their knowledge and ideas when goal setting to help keep goals realistic and attainable. Sharing goals with the whole team can encourage team effort, and a sense of responsibility.

Know your plan of action. Create a plan that supports your specific goals. When reviewing your plan be sure to think about how you will tackle issues as they occur, how issues will affect the team, clients, stakeholders, and whomever else is connected, and whether or not you are clinging to goals that no longer make sense for your business.

Fear of failure should never hold you back from setting goals and reaching for them! Effective and strategic goal setting will allow for individual accountability, and most importantly, will help keep your business aligned with your vision, and on the track to success.

Do you have short and long term goals set for your company? Do you feel like your goals are attainable and motivating? Tell me about your experiences by commenting below.

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Business Networking 101 – Networking Tips

networkingI’ve found connecting with others, personally or professionally, enriches your life. Traditional networking tips and guides have made networking seem like a dry transaction, but I believe networking is far more. Networking is most effective when you meet and get to know people before you ask for help, or offer your products or services. Remember that networking is about being genuine and authentic – your aim is to build trust, relationships and figure out how you can help others. Here are a few networking tips that I have found helpful and hope you will too:

TIP 1: Make Networking a Regular Part of Your Life

I understand your time is valuable and it’s easy to say you don’t have the time to network, but you should make the time for it! Schedule time each week (a meeting, lunch, coffee…etc.) where you can connect with colleagues and key stakeholders. Identify a couple of organizations that will be good resources for your professional development and join them. Finding organizations that align with your values will make networking feel natural, thus, it will become a regular part of your life.

TIP 2: Connect With Professionals who are Different from You

Your network is a source of knowledge, opportunity, prospective business partnerships, future hires, and more. You never know whom you may meet, or whom they know. A diverse network is a strong network!

TIP 3: Keep In Touch with Alumni

As important as it is to make new connections, you still need to nurture existing ones. People like former bosses, colleagues, and school alumni already know what value you bring to the table. Keeping in touch with old connections can be a great source of support, connect you to other people, and they can recommend new opportunities to you.

TIP 4: Reach Out

There’s the obvious LinkedIn connection and the obligatory “thanks for connecting” message, but when you hear or read about someone that impresses you, why not reach out over e-mail? Sending a quick and thoughtful e-mail (keep it to a paragraph or two to avoid information overload) can be a quick and easy way to make a new connection.

TIP 5: Join a Board

Joining peer boards, like TAB, is a great way to meet professionals outside of your industry. You’ll already have common interests since you both chose to be there, so connecting and finding common ground will be that much easier. Bonus tip: Step outside your bubble and look for boards outside of your industry (see Tip 2 for why!).

TIP 6: Help Others First

When you make a new connection try to focus on how you can help them first, and be prepared to give without receiving. Did they mention their brother or girlfriend is looking for a job and you happen to know of one he/she may be interested in? If so, follow up and ask for a resume to pass along to the right people. Even if you don’t get their brother or girlfriend the job, you’re helping your new connection by trying to fulfill a need they or someone close to them has. Most people will naturally reciprocate, and if you continue to help others you’ll be known for your pay it forward attitude. People will come to you for help, and offer theirs without you having to ask.

TIP 7: Tell Your Story and Speak with Confidence

Start by sharing your personal story. Rather than asking for something or talking about what you want from others, share how you got to this point in your life and why you’re talking to this person. Your story will show off your values and beliefs, and will help spark that connection needed to build a professional relationship. Oh, and don’t forget to smile!

TIP 8: Be Prepared So You Can Relax

When you attend events or meetings do your research so you can ask thoughtful and informed questions that people will remember you by. When you go prepared you’re able to relax so you can have fun! People will naturally be drawn to this energy.

Doing your research also means you might learn about some key people you want to meet.

TIP 9: Remember the Small Stuff

You don’t have to add all your contacts’ birthdays or anniversaries into your calendar, however making sure to send your well wishes will go a long way. Small gestures get noticed.

February Networking Challenge

I challenge each of you to get networking, and meet at least one new person this month. Develop a professional connection with them, or, deepen an existing professional relationship. Use the above tips to help you, and remember to have fun!

Do you find the above tips helpful? Share your thoughts and questions with me in the comment section.