This article comes from Entrepreneur.
As you plan to tackle 2020, create goals that keep you anchored by allowing for the intangibles of running a business. Start by following these five steps.
In today’s hyper-competitive world, it’s easy to set our eyes on accomplishments that look like success on the outside, but may not actually benefit our business as much as we think. It might be a press feature, an uptick in Instagram followers, a fancy award or attendance at a high-profile conference.
None of those aspirations are inherently problematic, but as you set your goals, consider what will actually be most impactful in the year ahead. Most importantly, ask yourself if it’s something you actually want to work toward, or if it’s just something that looks nice on paper.
When setting your goals, identify objectives that demand you learn a new skill. Give yourself permission — and, indeed, a mandate — to thrive outside your comfort zone. Sign up for coursework and accreditations, immerse yourself in new design software, learn to do ad buying or plan on attending at least one networking event a month. The idea is to stay plugged in by expanding your thinking and skillsets, inspiring yourself in ways you might have otherwise missed out on.
There were several years in my own entrepreneurial journey when I was so caught up in the day to day that I rarely prioritized opportunities outside of the business. Looking back, it’s easy to see how that contributed to feeling isolated or burnt out. As business leaders, it’s important we embrace the rewards of investing both in ourselves and in each other. Community engagement and skill development are circular processes and provide the fuel to keep going.
Our businesses don’t exist in a bubble. The goals we set will impact our personal lives, our community and the team members who work alongside us. For example, if you’ll be working toward an ambitious operations expansion this year, make sure you account for the effects it will have on the people around you. Talk with colleagues and partners about what to expect and how you can support one another. Evaluate how your growth might impact your community economically and socially, inform your workplace culture and influence customer perception.
Plan for more time than you might expect to suss out these important issues. Ambition is necessary for growing your business, but what good is it if, on balance, it’s resulted in insecurity for those who have made sacrifices to help you achieve success?
Once the planning-ahead gears are turning, it can be tempting to over-predict where you might land. Having a watertight plan makes us feel like the business is secure and stable, almost like we’ve accomplished what’s on our list before we’ve even begun.
But being too rigid or specific can lead us to miss out on unexpected opportunities. As you set your goals, it’s okay if they include broad placeholders. Gray areas aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Communicating the importance of flexibility to your team, too, will help ensure emerging opportunities are considered and encourage different ways of thinking. It’s the difference between having the freedom to pursue a crucial new partnership or sending that email to spam because it doesn’t immediately contribute to the quarter’s revenue goals. This effectively gives your employees permission to pursue de-risking the business, rather than encouraging the pursuit of growth at all costs.
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