“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America

We live in a 24-7 world that is disruptive and changing at a rapid rate.  Modern technology (24-hour news, Twitter, Facebook, text messaging) constantly bombard us with unfiltered “incoming” input that appears as urgent and pressing.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that urgent equals important.

Unfortunately, in a world filled with the immediacy and pressure of the urgent, we put off working on things that are truly important to long term business success.   Just as the squeaky wheel gets the oil, the urgent nearly always beats the important.

Meaningful business goals serve as a backbone to overcome this tendency.  Well set business goals act as a compass for the important by focusing resources and effort on actions that are essential to sustainable business success.

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Setting Business Goals: Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?

Focus on a few key business goals

Your company’s goals will only be effective if you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve within the context of a growth plan. Well-chosen goals point a business in the right direction and on the right track.

Goals establish where you intend to go and tell you when you get there. They help coordinate action and improve your overall effectiveness as a company – whether you want to increase your share of the market, or improve your customer service.

Common business goals revolve around the following themes

  • Increasing revenue
  • Increasing profit
  • More satisfied clients
  • Better engaged staff
  • Supporting your community

Most goals define positive outcomes that you want your business to achieve.   However, sometimes you may also want to set goals to reduce weaknesses or avoid barriers.

1. What do you want to eliminate?   unnecessary costs, wasted time, quality errors
2. What do you want to avoid?  pursuing unqualified leads, discounting your pricing, delays in customer service.

Examples of “revenue” focussed Business Goals

1. Find new markets for this offering?
2. Grow revenue with existing clients in this
3. Increase referrals from existing customers
4. Increase profit by reducing delivery costs
5. Attract more first-time customers by offering online coupons
6. Nurture prospective customers by implementing a permission-based e-mail campaign

So, who needs business goals?   Anyone that doesn’t want the urgent to beat the important.

Some critical questions for you to answer in the positive include:

  • How can your people avoid falling into the trap of putting off important actions for your business rather than attending to the pressure of the urgent?
  • How meaningful and motivating are your business growth goals in the eyes of your people?

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