A few weeks ago I focused on the topic of creating a clear vision of what you want your company to be, and one of the most important steps in defining this vision is to set a series of attainable goals. Because these goals are so important, I wanted to dedicate this article to delving deeper into the steps and purpose of the goal-setting process.
Developing a successful new business requires goals to keep your company moving forward and your employees motivated. Goals must be established on multiple tiers, setting up a solid foundation to support upward growth. At the top of your goals pyramid is your company’s vision. You may remember the S.M.A.R.T. system I outlined in my earlier article about defining your vision through establishing goals:
By being S.M.A.R.T. about the goals you set, you are creating a series of realistic and attainable goals that will inevitably translate into a realistic and attainable vision. You are more motivated to move towards a tangible goal than an abstract one, so without determining attainable goals from the beginning, your vision has no platform for moving forward.
However, setting goals can be a daunting process. While following the S.M.A.R.T. system is a great way to clearly and efficiently define the goals you want to reach, it can easily become overwhelming if you’re not sure exactly where to start. In this case, starting small and working backwards can be more effective than stressing over the big picture.
If you have a general idea of where you want to go in the future, you can begin creating real-option goals your company can immediately put into effect. Real-option or supporting goals are inexpensive bets (figuratively and literally) that are designed to help your start-up learn the most it can in the shortest possible time. A series of small bets done right will be more beneficial for your company that big, loud bets that leave little room for improvement or a learning curve.
These goals should reasonably reflect the resources you have at the time, but they can quickly grow into larger objectives. When I first established the company that would turn into 911 Restoration we mostly focused on carpet cleaning and floor restoration. As this turned out to be a safe and successful bet, our next goal was to learn and master water damage restoration. This goal was more difficult to accomplish but because it was our main focus at the time we were able to learn from it quickly and overcome the problems it posed at first. Eventually, that bet also became successful, and so we moved on and on, setting new real-option goals as we went to keep motivated and move the company upwards towards what it is today.
Even when your larger vision is broken down into more tangible, bite-sized pieces, finding the motivation to achieve them is still a big challenge. This is especially true if you need to motivate a team of employees as well. It’s important when working through goal setting to also consider the emotional currency you can provide for your staff. Since start-ups and small businesses usually can’t pay high salaries, they must retain top talent by cultivating an environment that presents challenging problems while at the same time respecting the employee’s ability to solve them. Emotional currency and motivational goals are the backbone to building up to your vision.
It’s crucial to create meaning and purpose through the goals you set, but at 911 Restoration we also like to link our goals to our Fresh Start culture by designing a fun motivational environment for our team. We have seen a lot of success come from organizing departmental incentives and scoreboards. When friendly competition comes into play, striving to achieve company goals moves from being a daily task to a personal desire. Motivation is the baseline for the rest of your company goals to work off of.
Once you have gone through and thought about your motivational goals and smaller target goals, it becomes easier to identify which larger, supporting goals you can realistically achieve. Now that you have a more tangible idea, you can run these ideas through the S.M.A.R.T. system without feeling overwhelmed and underprepared.