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Setting goals and objectives is an effective way of ensuring you’re headed in the right direction and places the work that you do within a wider context. By using goals and objectives in the right way and factoring them into your business plan, you can establish a roadmap for self-employed success.
The first thing to establish is the difference between the two. A ‘goal’ refers to what you’re totally committed to achieving as a small business owner.
This may be to re-adjust the line of our core business from, say, a web designer serving businesses to a web designer providing services for large corporates. Think long and hard about what you really wish to achieve, where you want to be in three months, six months or a year’s time. Be honest with yourself.
As a general rule, it’s inadvisable to set goals beyond a year because market conditions may change, or even your own priorities. It makes them seem an impossibly long way off. By keeping goals close, they’ll appear as more than just a distant dream.
Objectives are the stepping stones which guide you to achieving your goals. They must be verifiable in some way, whether that’s statistically or by some other achievable concept, such as a freelancer writer taking on a first web copy job in a particular industry. It’s crucial that your objectives lead you logically towards your goal and are quantifiable.
The great thing is, after each objective is achieved, you get rewarded with a warm feeling of satisfaction and an albeit metaphorical hearty slap on the back.
As with your goals, your objectives should be well thought out. The time you take to draw up your goals and objectives will ultimately save you time and make you more efficient and effective in the long run.
Goals and objectives are directly related to doing your job better and more efficiently. It’s what all freelancers and contractors need to be aiming towards: a constantly evolving process which leads to long-term business success.
Success, of course, means different things to different people. For some it’s increased profits; for others it may be to attain a better work/life balance. Both require planning, however – both require us to be more efficient and effective at what we do, and it’s our objectives that will lead us to achieving such goals (though the goals will have to be a bit more specific).
When you’ve achieved your goal, it’ll be time to set a new goal, and so the process starts all over again. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be constantly setting challenging goals. After all, if you want to maintain your current market position and salary, that can be your goal.
Planning what you want to achieve may be pretty simple, but it still may be worth doing to guard against complacency!
By simply updating goals and objectives, your business plan is never forgotten and remains practical and relevant to your day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month business functions.
Writing a business plan can help you figure out whether your business idea truly has legs.
If you’re not sure where to start, our jargon-free guide, “How to write a business plan”, will give you a better idea of how to get the ball rolling.