One of the first things any owner-operator will learn through business coaching is how to find their ‘why.’ It’s not so much about what you want to achieve but why you want to achieve it. This leads to setting clear and significant goals which are easy to quantify, understand and communicate.
An unfamiliar car journey provides a neat analogy for business owners who may be struggling to find their way. I mean, you wouldn’t head out on the road without a clue about the direction in which you were heading, so why attempt it in business?
That said, there is a still more important question that should also be asked; why am I even going to this destination? In other words, clarifying ‘why‘ will inform ‘where‘ you take it.
Business Goals: Starting with ‘Why’
Simon Sinek talks about starting with why in terms of customer communication. This is the external ‘why and enables you to link it, through how you do things to what you do and create better marketing messages to be used to acquire and develop customers. This external ‘why’ is a fundamental requirement for achieving business success.
However, the internal ‘why’ should be clarified and understood to ensure your commitment to achieving success remains high and to create the drive and direction for your business. This is exactly why it is so important for setting business goals, of which there are two types:
- ‘Away-from’ goals: Those created by dissatisfaction (or desperation) with where you are now, and
- ‘Towards’ goals: Those created by a vision of where you want to be. In other words, by inspiration.
History shows that where ‘away-from goals’ are the main reason why one does something, there is likely to be a decrease in drive or enthusiasm towards the activities required to maintain improvement once initial gains or successes are made. This is because the situation has improved and so the goals are not so strong, which then leads to entering the comfort zone.
When in the comfort zone, no long-term improvements are made. Usually, short-term gains are followed by short-term losses and status quo is maintained, or a gradual decline over time is observed.
The Importance of ‘Towards’ Goals
The only way to get out of, or to avoid entering the comfort zone, is to set clear, significant and relevant “towards” goals.
These may be financial, material, experiential or emotional, such as pride in achieving something. Your goals also may be targeted towards improving the lives of others or positively impacting your community.
So, as 2020 approaches, there is no better time to do some strategic thinking with your management team so that you can set your goals and plan for the year ahead.