Goal setting is an important factor in growing your business. Goals provide direction, motivation and a clear way to measure your progress. Although this article focuses on setting goals for your business, the same steps apply to setting your personal goals, as well.
Without goals, and a process for tracking your goals, you may have difficulty seeing the big picture and staying focused. Goal setting helps you create a roadmap that can guide you from where you are right now to where you want to be.
The tips below will help you get started with goal setting for your dealership, focus on the specifics of what you want to accomplish, and start to put your plan into action.
Step 1: Start with Your Dream
The first stage of goal setting is about considering everything you dream of accomplishing. Those dreams don’t need to be realistic at this point, so avoid limiting your ideas to those you think may actually be possible. Now is the time to consider every possibility, as if there are no boundaries.
To get started, take a piece of paper and think about where you want to be in one year, five years and ten years. Don’t worry about how you will get there yet, just write down every possibility — big and small.
Step 2: Brainstorm the Possibilities
Once you’ve written down your clearest dreams, it’s time for a brainstorming session to retrieve some of the ideas that may still be hiding in your subconscious.
You can follow any brainstorming method that is most effective for you. If you get stuck, here are a few brainstorming processes to try:
- Brain Dump – Let your mind take off and write down everything that you think of, whether or not it makes complete sense at this stage.
- List Making – Focus on one significant idea at a time and create an outline of all of the possible goals that may be part of each larger idea.
- Mind Mapping – Start with one idea, then use words and drawings to create a map of related ideas.
Step 3: Sort the Options
The next step involves taking all of the dreams and ideas you have down on paper from Steps 1 and 2 and making sense of them. It’s useful to sort your ideas into a few categories, based on measures that are important to you.
For example, you might create categories based on your priorities, ranking your ideas by how important they are in your life. You could also categorize your ideas based on:
- Time commitment required
- Financial impact
The categories you create for your ideas aren’t as important as the process of creating a way to sort them.
Once you create meaningful categories, and start to put your ideas into groups, you may be surprised at how much overlap there is. In some cases, once this step is complete, you may find that you have a few consistent themes that continue to reappear in the process. This is a sign that you are on the right track in identifying your most important goals.
Step 4: Create a Plan
After Step 3, you should be able to identify one or two business goals that you want to focus on (if not, go back and start brainstorming again).
The action plan you create for achieving those goals should define specific steps you need to take to reach your goal, while maintaining a focus on why the goal is important to you and what it will mean to you once you achieve it.
SMART goal setting refers to a planning process that measures five individual criteria in order to evaluate a goal and determine its achievability. It’s a defined process that takes your goal from the general idea stage and puts it into action.
There are a number of different words that have been used with the SMART acronym, but one of the breakdowns that fits business goal setting closely is described below.
S = Specific
When you are just getting started with goal setting, you may only have a vague idea of what you hope to accomplish. As you get further along in the process, however, you will need to be as specific as possible about your goal.
A specific goal should clearly state what you want to accomplish, why it is an important goal, and how you intend to accomplish that goal.
M = Measurable
You need to be able to determine, without question, whether or not you are successful in achieving your goal. To do this, you need to create a way to measure your progress and your end result.
A measurable goal should include a plan with targets and milestones that you can use to make sure you’re moving in the right direction during the course of action and should clearly tell you when you’ve completed the process.
A = Attainable
Business goals may often pull you out of your comfort zone and challenge you. If the goal and the steps you have created are not realistic, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
An attainable goal should be realistic and include a plan that breaks your overall goal down into smaller, manageable action steps that use the time and resources available to you within the timeline you’ve set.
R = Relevant
The relevancy of a business goal will often determine the likelihood of achieving it. Goals that do not fit together with all of the other factors that directly and indirectly impact your business are often unachievable.
Ultimately, a relevant goal should make sense when measured against your business model, mission statement, market, and client base.
T = Time-Based
Business goals cannot be open-ended; every goal should be limited by a period of time. Having a deadline can also create an urgency that will motivate you. To determine if your goal is time-based, it should include a defined period of time as well as a specific timeline for each step in the process.
Setting goals is not just a one-time occurrence. You need to monitor your progress on a regular basis. Goals may need to be adjusted throughout the year. Circumstances may cause you to re-prioritize goals based on market conditions, regulatory changes and other things that can affect your dealership as time goes by.
Think of goal setting as plotting the route for a trip. Your goals are your roadmap for success. Without goals you are always reacting to circumstances and going wherever they take you. Don’t get lost on your trip. Follow the roadmap you design with your goals and you are far more likely to end up where you want to be.