We all should know what a goal is, right? In the broadest sense, a goal is a different “state of being” from your present condition. Goals imply “improvement” and “progress.” Wherever you are… say, “Point A,” then your goal is to be at “Point B.” We imagine “Point B” to be a better state by however you measure it. Point B is your goal.
For many of us, we learned about goals in our “paycheck job.” It could be someone taught us that goals should be “SMART:” Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Whether in nonprofits or business, it was likely that each year you set goals, and each year you reviewed goals. (And each year, maybe your salary or other kinds of incentive was tied to your meeting one or more goals.)
Now that you’re on your own, while you probably acknowledge that goals are good, you may not find setting goals that urgent compared to everything else to do. After all, you’re “independent,” right? You’ve cast off the shackles of a large, overbearing employer. It’s just you, and you know what it means to do better for you, right?
Well, kind of.
If that’s working for you, super. Stop reading here, if for no other reason than you’ll probably not pay attention to the rest anyhow.
For everyone else… read on. Let’s talk about the kind of goals you want to set.
Monetary Goals: For a lot of us, this is the first thing that comes to mind. Are you meeting your goals for money? Most small business owners have one measure: did I pay my bills?
After that, goals for money are easy to ignore. You might even think they’re beyond your control. While there’s a kernel of truth to that, you probably serve nonprofits that have some cycle to their work. Are there specific times of the year when you can either work with a client vs. avoiding them entirely because they’re serving their own clients?
For example, we know that food banks feed people all year round. But I’d be especially careful approaching them around the holidays. They’re inundated with food intake from food drives, food distribution or managing volunteers who only show up once a year. If they’re a major client type, your goals need to reflect a downtime in business in December, but maybe an up-tick in October when you’re helping them prepare for the deluge.
Client Contact Goals: How often do you reach out to clients, even if just to say “hi?” How many networking events do you go to? Are you a member of organizations that relate to your client base? Client contacts come in all shapes and sizes, personal contact at big networking events or one to one over coffee, to a quick call to their office or an email or note card. The point is to be intentional about making contact whatever it is. Don’t leave a function that keeps you and your brand “top of mind” to chance… unless you want your work to come in by chance, too.
Lifestyle Goals: Does your business support the lifestyle you want for yourself? Are you living in a manner that brings you personal and professional comfort now, and lets you save for doing the same in the future when maybe you don’t want to, or can’t do what you’re doing now? Some of you might say, “isn’t lifestyle driven by money?” Yes, and… While every lifestyle requires a certain income to support it, you also need intent. Even if you’re doing quite well, if your spouse is a teacher who gets summers off and your business doesn’t support your dream of doing that, too, you’re not meeting your lifestyle goals.
Programmatic Goals: What kind of work are you doing and is it the kind of work you like to do? For example, maybe you’re a management consultant who helps nonprofit staff maximize their potential. Is that the kind of work that suits you? Are you doing the kind of work that maximizes your own talents and interests? Do you feel energized most of the time when you do your work? What are your goals for doing more of the work that you’re great at, and less of the work you aren’t?
Mission Goals: Rarely does this come up in business, but when you’re working with nonprofits, you might ask: Does my work contribute to missions that inspire my passion? Are you getting clients that make you want to get up in the morning and serve their needs? It’s one of the benefits of being in a business that serves people who do great things. There’s no reason you can’t have some of that rub off on you.
Whether you use these categories as a place to start or find others that suit you better, setting goals could be one of the most important steps in building a business that reflects your personality, and serves your needs.
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