The 11 Categories of Small Business Goal Setting You Never Knew Needed Alignment

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It is common for small business founders to focus on fire fighting in the present. This is because intuitively, they somehow know what they need to do in order to make that sale or to ensure that Revenue remains constant. Unfortunately, this also means that the founder is going to do everything. In order for small businesses to scale beyond the six and seven figures, founders need to align these 11 categories of the goal setting process that they need to pay close attention to. Just as you have a glass before you pour water out of your jug or bottle, each of these builds on the other, through a logical sequence.

1. Vision
small business goal setting

It might sound odd to ‘set’ a vision as a goal. At the start of any business, your vision is going to guide you just like a compass guides you to the north. One of the things to check off is to ensure your vision is clearly stated and communicated. Simply design the end state of your business. See it in your mind, hear it in your head and write down the end state of what your business is to you, your stakeholders and the customers you serve. After all, according to Stephen Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it makes perfect sense that you begin with the end in mind.

2. Meaningful and valuable product or service proposition
small business goal setting

You also need to clarify what your proposition is to your potential customers. Some people call this the minimum viable product. Very often, great businesses are those with at least a decent product or service. 

It is difficult to sell something where the product is lacking in meaning and value to the prospect. Conversely, an offer is irresistible because that offer presents an important meaning and value. To do this, many have suggested using customer avatars. However, I believe that direct interaction with people who represent my market will tell me almost immediately. To do this, one should employ a process of Design Thinking to get to the heart of your offer.

Have you set up some time to think about how to create a viable and valuable offer that is highly prized by your prospects?

3. Clarity of activities
small business goal setting

When you are busy trying to do many things, it is very often difficult to prioritize what you need to do first. In my opinion, Clarity of your activities must align with the value proposition that you have crafted. Once you know the value proposition, you can then align all of your activities that can help you to fulfill a prospect’s curiosity about that proposition. 

Making a list of all the possible activities that your business needs to conduct can therefore enable you to prioritize them more effectively. When there are things that spill over, you can adjust your priorities in order to get things done. In your goal setting process, list down these activities and prioritize them. Awareness of these key activities in your business will undoubtedly prevent confusion later on by stating what should be the focus.

4. Customer acquisition
small business goal setting

Ah, lead generation! Everybody wants more leads, right? Wrong! Most of the time, acquiring a customer is an expensive endeavor.  it is much easier to look for people who already respect and trust you to make additional purchases. This means that the ability for you to acquire customers is just the first step in an entire journey to walk alongside your customer. There are many channels that one can use to acquire customers. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much money. However, it might take effort in exchange. If you’re unwilling to put in the effort, you can most certainly replace that with an expenditure to generate potential prospects.

5. Hiring and leading a team of A-players
small business goal setting

Up to a certain point, the founder will be overwhelmed. However, most founders end up hiring people at the wrong time, causing them to feel even more stressed out because now they have to manage these people! Isn’t it more sensible to hire somebody whom you can succeed you in certain activities, way ahead of time?

This is because most founders do not clarify key activities ahead of time. Some are way too creative. They end up getting distracted, and after a few months have no clue what their business is truly about. Others just allow the passage flow of the business to dictate where they go. This is like telling an oak tree to navigate out of the spot where it was rooted. 

Once you can see how your team functions, it makes it easier to manage them. When key business activities are known, the right team members can be hired to carry out those tasks effectively. Even if a new task happens to come up that is not within the team’s capabilities, at least they will be able to learn, in order to take action. You can provide a platform for their ideas to be heard, and even coach or guide them to do their work that supports the activities you need. Often, a founder’s leadership abilities are learnt on the job. But you certainly can accelerate that by hiring an executive coach who understands how a small business should scale.

So, do you set a goal to build a strong pipeline of talent? Are you also setting effective goals to learn to develop your leadership before you actually truly need it?

6. Productivity metrics/KPIs
small business goal setting

Once you are able to put in place the right team, they are likely to give you ideas in terms of what productivity looks like. They are likely to want to produce the right kinds of metrics and KPIs in order to  be seen as high-performing. In many cases, productivity is the achievement of a specific kind of goal within the category of activities. However, most entrepreneurs take the wrong approaches to productivity. If the KPI produced does not actually support the key activities listed, we can say that that KPI is misaligned or irrelevant. Thus, you have to set a goal to track what really matters.

7. Process improvement
small business goal setting