By George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor

Setting and achieving the right set of goals are two of the most important skill sets essential to entrepreneurial and business success.

Setting goals is about determining the set of objectives that best balances what your organization can become and what it can realistically achieve. It is about setting goals that are achievable, and yet stretch the organization to greater accomplishments.  Goals need to be clear and discussed frequently and effectively.  Also, they need to be measurable with progress documented at frequent intervals.

Once the goals are set, the priority actions need to be identified.  These priority actions are the pathway for accomplishing the goals. This truly is where the rubber meets the road.  The right priority actions, combined by relentless follow-up, keep the truly important things on the radar screen.  In most day-to-day work environments everything seems urgent and important.  Defining what the most important actions should be and pursuing their accomplishment attests to the tenacity, attitude, and judgment of leadership.

Typically, setting four to six goals are about as many as can be effectively handled.  Then, setting at most, three to four priorities (action steps) for each goal should represent the most important and timely actions that must be taken to achieve the goal.  Each action step should have a due date and be assigned to one or more individuals.  Full dialogue about the goals and priorities needs to occur to achieve buy-in from the people who will carry out the actions.

Setting the wrong priorities, or having too many priorities, dilutes the entire effort and results in non-performance. Often, priorities are set when too little information is available or when people filter the information through their own biases or ego.

Let’s look at a simple example to illustrate the concept.  The goal is to increase sales 8% in 2014.  This goal was arrived at after an analysis of why sales were growing at only 2%.

The priorities may be:

  1. Survey existing accounts (by a specified date) that showed a drop in sales or had flat sales to determine the reasons.
  2. Based on the result of the survey take a defined action. For example, if product quality was a significant reason, then identify a priority to make operational improvements.  Be specific about the step(s) you will take.
  3. Identify a hit list of potential new accounts and call on five of these a month.

Effectively identifying and implementing goals and priorities, and linking their accomplishment to individual and team performance, have a powerful impact on people’s behavior. The result will be sustained and significant organization progress and success.

SCORE, a resource partner of the US Small Business Administrationhas certified mentors who can help you identify the most important goals and priorities for your business or business idea. Call today, (602 745-7250) or click here to make your no fee appointment with a SCORE mentor.  There is never a charge and you can be assured of the very best counsel and advice.

About the Author:

George Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, purchasing, financing and selling businesses.

Hitting the Target: Setting & Reaching Your Goals