Goal Setting Strategies:
Tips on Setting Goals in a Small Business

Learning effective goal setting strategies is one of the benefits of business coaching. Business goals should be reviewed at least once a year - it is an on-going process. 

Business Coaching Insight:

One of the key reasons for hiring a business coach is to turn the goals in your head into actionable plans and steps. This can be a significant success factor. 

The bigger picture of why you're in business and the promise of achieving something exciting is what will keep you motivated to push forward even when faced with difficult situations. 

Setting SMART goals

Business coaches often advise business owners to use the SMART principle as one of their goal setting strategies. It’s an easy way to remember the key characteristics that goals must have in order to be successful.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed.

When you are successfully setting and achieving goals the SMART criteria ensures they are articulated correctly. 

Extra tips on setting goals

  • Always write them down
  • Most small business owners have goals in mind for their business but many of them don’t take the step of actually writing them down.

    Just the act of writing them down is powerful.

    When you write down your business goals, write them in the first person. For example, ‘I want to work 30 hours a week’, rather than ‘I want the team to be more responsible so I can take more time off’

  • State goals in the positive
  • In other words, state what you want and not what you don’t want.

    This is one of the most important tips on setting goals and one that many people get wrong. For example, instead of ‘I don’t want any bad debtors next year’ you might write ‘I only have customers who pay their invoices on time’.

    It’s a subtle distinction but the first example is focused on what you don’t want.

  • Set smart goals that are aligned with your values
  • You may have noticed that some goals you set never get achieved. Often this is because the goal is not aligned with your values and therefore not really that important to you.

    For example, if money is not a value of yours then setting a goal to make $1,000,000 will be hard to achieve. Setting a business goal to expand in to another country might also cause a conflict if you value family time.

    As a goal setting strategy, knowing your core values can really help with setting meaningful goals that you are truly motivated to achieve.

    Your values are the things that get you out of bed in the morning. Goals need to ‘feel’ congruent with your values to be effective. 

Business Coaching Insight:

When your plans and tasks seem overwhelming, break them down into baby steps

  • Break your goals down in to baby steps
  • Big annual or 5-year goals can seem overwhelming and impossible to achieve. However ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ so it’s important to keep yourself moving forward by breaking down big goals into easy baby steps.

    So, as far as goal setting strategies are concerned, start with the big picture and then break down your business goals in to monthly and/or quarterly goals.

  • Keeping reminding yourself of your goals
  • In a business context it’s particularly important to keep reminding yourself and your team of what the businesses goals are. So, make a habit of reiterating your goals in internal staff meetings so it keeps everyone focused and motivated.

  • Believe you can achieve them
  • Limiting beliefs are one of the main things that get in the way of people achieving their goals. It’s the same in business.

Business Coaching Questions:

  • What goal setting strategies work best for you?
  • What are your top 5 personal values?
  • How do your goals fit with these values?


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