Setting Business Goals:
An On-Going Process

Setting business goals is a process that should be revisited at least once a year to make sure your goals are still relevant and exciting. This is especially so if you have business partners because each partners’ personal priorities and goals may also change over time and affect their role in the business.

So, it’s a good idea to have a formal discussion at least once a year whilst setting business goals, just to check in with everyone to find out if everyone is still happy with their involvement.

Having this type of open communication will save a lot of heartache further down the line and it needs to start right from the beginning.

Begin with the end in mind

Business Coaching Insight:

In business partnerships, exit strategies should be mapped out from the very beginning of the business.

When starting out in business together with partners its especially important to begin with the end in mind by having your long term goals mapped out right from the beginning.

This includes discussing possible exit strategies and how long each partner envisages being involved with the business.

Nothing lasts forever and there will come a time when you're ready to move on and profit form the sale of the business. Even Bill Gates moved away from Microsoft eventually.

However the process of small business goal setting rarely takes this in to account.

New business owners get so carried away in the excitement of it all that they can't conceive of ever wanting to sell or getting to the point where they no longer want to work with the other partners. However, business partnerships can easily break down even if you're family members.

The other reason for failing to discuss the longer term when setting business goals is because of the uncertainty around how well the business will go. There doesn’t seem much point setting smart goals for possible scenarios 5-10 years down the path.

However, it is vital that business partners have this conversation.

Your expectations of the business and your role within it may be entirely different from your business partners even though you agree on a business vision. One might see this business as a lifetime venture; the other could be seeing it as a short term thing before stepping back and just being a shareholder.

Once the daily grind of running a business starts to kick in, this kind of communication becomes even more important. It can save a lot of resentment when all partners are clear about each others future expectations of themselves and each other.

Couples in Business

This is even more the case with couples who own and operate a business together.

Couples in business are particularly vulnerable to stepping into ventures without clear exit strategies. Perhaps this is because the relationship is ‘forever,’ and therefore all joint projects have an unspoken ‘happily ever after’ aspect to them.

However, business ventures aren’t forever, so there needs to be clarity around how you intend to step out of the business. If you don’t do this, your passion for the business will eventually fizzle and you won’t be prepared for the fallout.

A very typical pattern that occurs with couples is when the husband starts out on his own and the wife helps out by doing the admin. It might not be what she enjoys doing but she takes on the role to help out the family.

Over time, it becomes expected that she will continue which often results in her feeling trapped - trapped because she’s not happy working in the business but she can’t just up and leave when the marriage and families livelihood is at stake.

Couples need to consider setting business goals within the context of their personal and relationship goals.

Personal goals

So, small business goal setting needs to take in to account each partners personal goals too.

Your business is just one part of your life, so it needs to align with the bigger picture of your whole life. If after doing this you realise you want to take 3 months off for a trip to Africa, this can be planned for when setting business goals for the business.

Business Coaching Questions:

  • How long do you envisage yourself being involved in the running of the business?
  • What other personal goals do you have for the next 5 years?
  • What do you expect your business partners' future involvement to be? Is this what they expect?

Return from setting business goals to writing a business plan

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