5 Steps to Set -- and Achieve -- Your Business Goals

Are you making progress on your business goals for the year yet?

If not, consider taking a more strategic approach to business growth by setting measurable (and realistic) goals, planning for obstacles, preparing for change and, ultimately, having a better and more clearly defined purpose for your business and your team.

Below are five things you can start doing now to help you strategically dominate your competition:

No. 1: Strategic Goal Planning It’s one thing to set a goal for the future, but how accurately are you keeping track of your accomplishments?

What systems do you have in place to keep you on target?

Writing your goals down is the first step, of course, but that’s just the beginning. Set your goals incrementally, with short-term plans that take steps toward the larger things you want to complete.

Write down what you want to accomplish this year, then take a step back… What do you need to do this month to realize that goal? Take another step… What do you need to do this week to move closer to your monthly goal? One more step… What can you do today to make progress on your weekly goal (in turn making progress toward your long-term goals)?

Most people fail to achieve their goals because they have a flawed process, set unattainably high expectations, or because they set goals that do not inspire them.

Keep this in mind when forming your own goals, and remember that they don’t all have to be business related. It’s perfectly OK to include your personal goals here too. In fact, you should!

A balanced mix of personal and professional goals will help you get a clear picture of what you want to accomplish across the board, and the time it will take to get there.

Here’s a goal setting worksheet I created last year (and I’m still using the same one!)

No. 2: Be Prepared for Change Every year, new technology, legislation, trends, and tons of other factors change the needs of various industries and consumer groups… It’s inevitable, really.

Maybe it’s a new innovation (like what the kindle did for e-books) or marketing strategy (like Zappos free shipping, 365-day guarantee) that completely changes the consumer landscape.

And you need to be prepared – just as one of my mentors, Keith Cunningham would say: “Ask yourself, what am I not seeing?”

Looking down the road for potential change is always a good practice.

What rumbles are you hearing in your marketplace?  What results are your customers’ actively seeking out/asking for? What other advantage or benefit can you offer the marketplace?

This is where our Growth Factor question (“What can I do today to provide my customers with a greater advantage or benefit, to get them closer to the ultimate result they are after?”) can really offer some real breakthroughs for your business.

No. 3: Develop for Tomorrow Similar to the point above, the products and services you are selling today should meet the needs of your customers today, right?

What about the stuff you have on the drawing board? Everything you plan on releasing tomorrow needs to be a solution to the problems of tomorrow!

This means taking steps now to anticipate what you customers will need in the future. This can be done with focus groups, through customer feedback channels, anything you can do to paint a picture of tomorrow’s customers.

Know thy customers!

Take time to know what results they are ultimately after – and how you can play a part in making this become a reality for your customers.

The ground you gain today planning ahead will position you in the lead tomorrow.

No. 4: Avoid Obstacles With Foresight Just as you should be preparing yourself (and your business) for inevitable changes, you can proactively avoid problems and roadblocks with the same type of forward thinking.

What potential problems might you face in the coming year, and what can you do now to avoid them? When planning for problems, sometimes it even pays to include some unlikely extremes – at least you’ll be thinking about what do in the face of disaster.

In our business, we use something called “The Strategy Circle” introduced by another one of my mentors, Dan Sullivan.

Basically, it works like this:

First, we define our biggest macro goal for the year, Then the date we want to achieve it Followed by all the targeted results that must happen for us to reach the macro goal Next we list any obstacles which may prevent (or are currently preventing) us from achieving our results And finally, the strategies to overcome those obstacles.

No. 5: Define Your Purpose This is an absolute must for any successful business, whether you’re a solo-preneur or an international corporation.

You have to know why you’re doing what you’re doing (and I don’t just mean making profits).

This sense of purpose is ideally shared throughout your workforce, no matter how large or small it might be.

What impact do you want to have on this world?  How will your business change lives with the advantage and benefit that you’re offering? Are you driven to spread awareness, to educate?

I’ve yet to have met a mega-successful entrepreneur – millionaire or billionaire – that achieved their success without a clearly defined purpose.

By defining the purpose of your business, you set the standard for the direction you should be moving in. With a clear purpose, you can compare every proposal and every project to your overarching goal and ask yourself, “Does this align with the purpose of this company?”

Set clear, measurable goals that align with your purpose and stick to them — and you too can have your most phenomenal week, month or year in business yet.

A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog.

Charles Gaudet’s controversial marketing insight has earned him the title of “The Entrepreneur’s Marketing Champion” by both his clients and Insiders’ for his ability to help them out-compete, out-market and out-earn their competition. As the founder ofPredictableProfits.com, he’s an expert at helping entrepreneurs radically improve their profits through a series of effective marketing strategies.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.