January 2


Are You Setting Goals or Wandering Aimlessly?

By Patrick Millerd

January 2, 2023

goal setting, setting goals, small business

The following story quoted in Fortune magazine about setting business goals is an inspiring example to follow.

If you want your business to be a success the first step is to set clear goals.


Every year, Tony Bates and his wife make a list of future goals. In 2007, Bates was a 40-year-old Cisco (CISCO) executive who wrote down that he wanted to become a CEO by the age of 45.

"He then listed four companies -- all consumer-focused, despite his enterprise pedigree -- that he hoped would offer him the job."

One of the 4 companies was Skype.

Four years later, at age 44, Tony Bates become Skype's CEO. He achieved the exact goal he had set four years earlier.

Business planning goal

This is an inspiring example of setting a very clear and precise goal and then achieving it. Providing us with a simple lesson why we should:

  1. Set exciting and ambitious goals
  2. Write them down
  3. Put them out to the world

As inspiring as this story is, there is a part missing! What is it?

The missing part is how he planned to get there in 5 years - the process. The what he would plan to do day by day, month by month to achieve his goal. How he would align to the people who would make this happen. The personal sacrifices he would have to make. The additional skills he would require to be CEO. 

Creating and sustaining a small business will be a major part of your life ... sometimes too all consuming.

But setting and achieving goals is not a simple one step process where one size fits all. There will be many unexpected opportunities and challenges. Having clear a goal will make it much easier to stay on track … it's like having a distant beacon or landmark to guide you.

No matter where you are in your business. Accept it, life will always have it's ups and downs. So it doesn't matter where you are at this moment in time. At the top of a cycle or down in the dumps. Having a rewarding year or struggling along.

Now is the time to start. But before starting you must be clear on two things:

  1. Your desired output - the output goal
  2. What has to be done to get there - the process goals

The first part is actually the easier one and failure to set and execute the second the usual reason for failure to achieve the desired output.

Setting your output and process goals

Set aside time this week, or if this is too hectic next weekend, and spend some quality time thinking about why you want to achieve what you are doing or plan to do.

Set deadlines for your goals. Deadlines are a powerful component that most people overlook in their goal setting. Goals are not wispy dreams so make them quantifiable and concrete.

You must be able to virtually see and feel what it will mean to you when you achieve them.

People who have written goals are vastly more successful than those that don't.

Ongoing goal setting and focus is a critical element of a successful small business.

One process that has helped me with my life planning, setting goals and keeping focused is ensuring that my all my goals are SMART, supported by relevant process goals and then concentrate my effort on the short term - daily and weekly - steps that must be done which will lead to the desired outcome.

Write down your goals 

This is an extremely important step as it is not enough just to have them sloshing about in your head. Review these written goals frequently - read them and think about them at least once a week or even better, once a day.

Share your goals with other people

Ones who will encourage you, motivate you, and connect you with others who will help you move forward towards your goals and dreams.

Constantly take action

One step every day closer to your goals and dreams. Don't worry about making giant leaps as many small steps will work just as well.

Remember that nothing happens until something moves. In his best-selling book Atomic Habits  James Clear details a practical method for step-by-step improvement. Providing a system for turning our hopes, dreams, and wishes into realities.  

Reward every success

A very important element to achieving goals and keeping the process going is to have a reward for each. This may be anything from simply taking a day's outing with the family to an overseas trip! 

The formula is - Set SMART Goals + Write them down + Attract the Right People = Successful Business and Life.

Focus and take action. Get enthused. Keep pushing on. Never stop.

As time goes on you may want to change your goals … that's no problem, but don't leave out any of the steps.

Success is a process. Challenge yourself to see what you can do to make your small business success the core of a rewarding life.

Patrick Millerd

About the author

I support small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners to drive profitability and cash flow, managing the financial health of their business through understanding and using their numbers.
Helping them build a complete management system that puts them in control.

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