Goal Setting and Implementation for Small Businesspeople

by Stream Energy Director of Field Development Michael Tacker

Here at Stream Energy, as you may be aware, we market our energy services through a network  of Ignite Independent Associates. I am one of those in the Stream Energy corporate office who works directly with these Associates. In fact, I have long worked with small entrepreneurs and have thus come to know what works for them.  Today, I would like to focus on an important topic for all of you small businesspeople out there and that is goal setting and implementation.    

Business success books are stuffed with tips on goal setting. Unfortunately, much of that advice is really geared toward long-range planning, and not the immediate needs of the small businessperson. 

Although every small business certainly needs to know its long-range plans, goal setting itself should be more of a quarter-to-quarter activity. That’s because most people running a small operation (say 1-10 people) cannot plan effectively beyond about three months. Short increment goal setting works for businesses with limited resources and provides such smaller enterprises with the kind of flexibility and personal energy that is needed in today’s fast-paced business environment. 

Now that we have limited the focus of goal setting-activities to more manageable chunks, it becomes easier to focus on day-to-day efforts. We’ll use a salesperson as an example. If you have been in your business for any length of time, you of course know about how many calls it will take to set an appointment and, further, how many appointments to close a deal. So you just break that down to set your schedule of what needs to be done each day. Let’s say you’ve determined, for instance, that you need to set five appointments a day. Sometimes that will take five calls, and sometimes it will take 25. Regardless, those five appointments are your base. Just focus your numbers, and the results will follow. Be activity focused, not results focused, and move forward, confident that the model you have established actually works.

That sounds simple, right? Almost too simple, in fact. And therein lies the rub.

The good thing about being your own boss is that no one is watching over you. The bad thing about being your own boss is that no one is watching over you. Thus, you have to manage your activities on your own. And you have to actually set aside time for them, not just perform them on the sidelines of life (i.e. after the kids’ daily playground trip). In other words, just because you are not punching someone else’s clock doesn’t mean you are altogether free from the clock. If there is no formal structure in place, then you have to create one and live by that which you have created.

Sure, you can cheat the clock a little every now and then by sneaking out to the museum or running an errand. Nevertheless, you have to hit your numbers. (You’ve heard about the proverbial penny that doubles every day. Take a few days of doubling out of the mix and the total number at month’s end is not only smaller, but exponentially so). In other words, you just have to establish discipline. It may sound like a bad word, but after a few weeks of focused activity, you’ll have established some strong habits that bolster your new goal setting and implementation practices.  After that, just bring on the next quarter, because you’re ready!