20 Entrepreneurs Explain How They Determine and Set Their Goals

How we approach goal setting determines how far we go in the implementation phase. It's the answers to the simple questions that enhance the SMARTness of your goals. For example, how will the goal contribute to a change or improvement to the current situation? What do you need to get to the accomplishment of the goals? The objective and motivation behind your goal will help you structure the goal in the right direction and accomplish it with ease.

Here's how entrepreneurs and business owners determine and set goals.

#1- I have a few techniques

Photo Credit: Ameet Khabra

First, I like to create an overall vision for my company/brand. This is always my most ambitious goal, however, it's important to ensure that it is accomplishable. From there, I like to list the qualitative as well as quantitative aspects of the vision. This allows me to simply work backwards, making my ambitious goal a lot more attainable. I then zero-in on a timeline, ensuring that I give myself enough time to complete my goal, but not so much time that I'm able to put it off. Whether the goal is a 5 year, 3, year, or 1 year goal, I figure out what needs to happen every single month to ensure the goal is met.

Thanks to Ameet Khabra, Hopskipmedia!

#2- Breaking down the goals in four steps

Photo Credit: Pathik Jayani

Before you set a goal, possibly the most important question to ask yourself is “Is this how you want your life to look like?” Moreover, is this goal part of that picture? I am sure you have heard this a million times but it does work. Your half of the work is already done with positive answers of above questions. Rest of the process, I would address in 4 easy steps, Write down the exact goal and divide it further into three goals : – Long term goal: This should include long term objective that will years to achieve/accomplish. Be as specific as possible, however, leave some ‘wiggle-room’  Intermediate Goals:  Breakdown the long term goal to smaller measurable goals. These intermediate goals should be more specific and with measurable success with the time line set forth  These goals are the ones that help you decide if you need to change a course of actions, or scale your efforts up/down based on measurable outcome. Short term goals: Breaking down each intermediate goal to even further to be really specific with time line. This should be measurable in days and weeks. Clear out come should be measured regularly to stay on track. Take immediate actions if not met these milestones. While the above is being worked on, I would follow 80/20 rule to prioritize day-to-day work. We are all wearing multiple hats, it is crucial to prioritize the 20% of the tasks (which carries 80% of the total value). This will free you up to spend more time on goal you set forth.

Thanks to Pathik Jayani, Blue Whale Apps!

#3- Allocating considerable time for this

Photo Credit: Andrew Schrage

One of the best ways to determine small business or entrepreneurial goals is to set aside a few moments or longer and figure out what you want to accomplish both personally and professionally over say the next 30-, 60-, and 90 days, and then come up with some annual goals as well. And not to over think the process, but your best bet is to make sure that your goals are SMART. That means that they are specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, and time-bound. You can't just decide that you want to improve customer service at your business for example. Instead, that goal would be to improve customer reviews to a level of 4.8 out of 5 by December 1. It's probably also beneficial for entrepreneurs and small business owners to come up with a list of both personal and professional goals. The former is necessary because when you improve yourself, your company or operation will generally get better as well as a result.

Thanks to Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers!

#4- Doing several things

Photo Credit: Khris K. Bhatton

In managing a company, I believe that setting goals is relatively easy; determining what they are is the difficult part. It takes some deep thinking. Some of the things I do to determine what those goals are include: 1) Analyze the marketspace you are providing a product or service to. 2) Data mine and identify trends in various industries and see how they intertwine with one another. 3) Gain a full knowledge and understanding of how your industry is being affected by variables out of your control. 4) Adjust business goal determinations based on your research. 5) Keep a “pulse” on the workforce by way of networking and staying abreast with current events. 6) Think of ways to provide solutions to problems instead of only identifying them. 7) Solicit feedback from my team to ensure visionary alignment. Once goals are set, I develop executable project plans that include: resource planning to determine what talent is needed to achieve the set goals; create a schedule that includes predecessors to major milestones that support revenue goals; and manage estimated and actual costs over the projects period of performance.

Thanks to Khris K. Bhatton, RTG Solutions Group!

#5-Data-Driven Goal Setting

Photo Credit: Shaun Savage

In addition to traditional goal setting metrics, i.e. is it achievable, is it measurable, does it have a deadline… we use two very important factors in determining the goals we set at GoShare. First, does it ladder up to our corporate mission? We know who we are today, and what we want to become. All goals should be steps toward achieving our end goal. If the goal isn’t moving us closer to our corporate mission, it’s not worth pursuing. Second, is it backed by strong data? We ground all our business decisions, sales and marketing goals, and service level targets in research and data. Having good data is like having a good pair of glasses. Without data, our ability to take in and understand the market landscape would be incomplete, and we might not be able to see and identify opportunities or threats to the business. By investing in analytics, tracking, and surveying our stakeholders, we are able to create intelligent goals that move our business in the right direction.

Thanks to Shaun Savage, GoShare!

#5- After considering business priorities

Photo Credit: Simon Slade

Your goals should be an extension of your business's priorities, which are something that should be at the forefront of your mind every day. When you know what is important to your business and what you value as an entrepreneur, it's easy to come up with goals that will help you move closer to those ideals. Once I've identified a goal, I'm sure to create a specific milestone that will mark the achievement of that goal. I also identify the obstacles that will be associated with pursuing the goal, and the person or persons who will hold me accountable to my goal.

Thanks to Simon Slade, SaleHoo!

#6- It's unique for every staff member

Photo Credit: Joy Gendusa

At my company, we set SO many goals, from the top executives to every single staff member, all with the aim of contributing to the health of the entire establishment. Every staff member keeps a statistic that tracks their production and the final valuable product for that position. The stats change depending on each position and what role that staff member plays. My stat tracks EBITDA. My CMO's is overall leads. A designer's main stat would be customer-approved designs. These metrics are updated weekly, and then used to set tangible goals across the company, and having something concrete to refer to makes a huge difference in our ability to achieve those goals and get things done. It's all about tracking, accountability and letting each person feel autonomous and in control of their job and production.

Thanks to Joy Gendusa, PostcardMania!

#7- ABCs and 123s

Photo Credit: Adriana Llames

I use the ABCs and 123s determine and set both long and short-term goals. It may sound simple but as a coach for entrepreneurs across the country, this method works for both my business and theirs. “A” goals are actionable, high priority goals designed to be completed within the next 1-4 weeks. “B” goals are business-focused goals for the next one to three quarters and “C” are company strategic goals for long-term growth in the next 12-24 months. As an entrepreneur and business owner myself, this allows me (and my clients) to stay focused this week, this quarter, and this year while also keeping an eye on the long-term health and profitability of the business which can get overlooked when we’re in the daily operations of the business. The 123’s are for the daily goals. “1” goals are the top priorities for the day, the must do’s. “2” goals are the need to get done priorities for the week that need to be completed by week end but not within the day. “3” goals are those to be completed ideally within the week but at a minimum within the month. The ABCs and 123s can keep any entrepreneur, business owner or CEO on track.

Thanks to Adriana Llames, XecuCoach!

#8- Utilising Microsoft Excel

Photo Credit: Anna Foster

Whether you think goal setting is easy or hard, you're right! No matter the industry you're in, every business needs to have specific measurable goals and an active strategy ( a working plan) on how to get there. It's sensible to tackle one goal at a time. Everyone is not committed to developing or staying on task with a business plan, but by committing your goals to paper, we are more likely to achieve them. I find using Microsoft Excel is a great and easy way to list goals, assign dates and track. Also, we must account for the resources ( money, time, consultants, staff) that will be necessary for success. Last, but certainly not least, involve your team; that's why they are there. We all must be SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time specific) when setting goals and find ways to make it enjoyable!

Thanks to Anna Foster, A Maven's World!

#9-  Based on past data.

The way I set goals in business are based a lot on past data. In sales, I base numbers off of our previous quarters performance, always aiming higher but just high enough where it's still within the realm of possibility, as long as my team utilizes all of their resources. When it comes to marketing, the data can be a little more expansive, but we always aim at target markets that have shown proven results in campaigns as we go forward. it's all about the 80/20 rule – which one market should I focus on, that can gain me the majority of my business? That is how we set our goals!

Thanks to Feras Bashnak, Ferla Bikes!

#10- Writing down the goal then breaking it down to manageable pieces

Photo Credit: William Forshaw

My attitude towards setting goals is simple. Initially, I always aim for the world and then scale it down into manageable pieces. I started my company with the aim to become the most loved bag brand in the world. This goal is still written on the walls in our head office and I work towards it every day. At the beginning of every year, I break down what the company needs to achieve in order to be one step closer to this overall goal. Those ‘bite size' smaller goals are usually achievable over the course of several months, like growth in revenue or an increase in marketing activities.

Thanks to William Forshaw, Maxwell-Scott!

#11- Aligning the goals with my purpose

Photo Credit: Nick Stekovic

Over the years I found that the goals I set for myself in order to really get me excited and moving have to be in line with my truest values, passions, feelings and how that goal improves and helps people. In other words how will what I do make, create or accomplish make a difference in other people’s lives and mine. After the last 2 years of doing various personality tests and reading books on psychology and spirituality I’ve come to an understanding that one best performs and feels when acting in line with his truest purpose. Once you understand what your purpose is in life you start aligning everything to that and give it your all. According to Dr. Maxwell Maltz humans have a built-in natural GPS which guides them towards the accomplishment of their goals. The only requirement to get going is for one to clearly set the intended goal and let self-servo mechanism take over.

Thanks to Nick Stekovic, Synthesis!

#12- By listening

The key for setting goals is listening. Having regular, solid, goal oriented discovery sessions with prospects and customer on new trends, internal requirements and feedback on your performance provides 1/3 of what needs to go into your goal setting. The other two thirds are also based on listening: to the market via networking (at your level but also on the tactical end) to make sure that as entrepreneurs, we’re stay rooted in the conversations on tech trends, competition, market changes, etc; and to our teams, and not just in the form of one-off evaluations or a planning sessions but omnipresent idea sessions are important. These three factors provide a clear sense of key issues, opportunities, gaps, what’s on the critical path, what can be addressed now and in the longer term, and where are your business is/should be going.

Thanks to Michael Hammond, Storyboard Media Group!

#13-I make a list

I have a daily goal list, weekly, monthly, yearly, 5 year plan and 10 year plan. I also make sure that my list is realistic so I can maintain and meet my goals. I want to push my company to be the most successful it can be but, at the same time I don't want it to be unrealistic and burn out. I put 3 attainable goals on my daily list. I ask myself every morning what are 3 task I need to complete today that would make me satisfied or fulfilled with my work day. I make sure my daily goals are working towards my monthly and yearly goals.

Thanks to Erica Hartwig, Organic Moments Photography!

#14- Through time management

Photo Credit: Tony Safoian

The key to achieving goals is time management. At SADA, we preach a concept called “timeboxing,” whereby our teams are encouraged to keep lists of prioritized action items and stick to them strictly. While working on deliverables it’s important to adhere to processes which were designed to save time and maximize success. Often times we find that processes are ignored, which inevitably leads to the need for something to be reworked. In other instances, we find that team members work bits and pieces of multiple deliverables at the same time, resulting in incomplete projects. A project team needs to show results, and that can be achieved if deliverables are intelligently timeboxed and there’s a consistency to how deliverables are worked.

Thanks to Tony Safoian, SADA Systems!

#15- Eliminating distractions

Photo Credit: Tara Bradford

I work with executives to help them determine their goals during difficult business transitions and periods of high stress. The first thing we do is uncover their unique belief system that is guiding all of their decisions. Distraction is a common coping mechanism that executives reach for during these time periods so they don't have to face a goal head-on when they know it is going to push them out of their comfort zone. For this reason, the next step in determining goals is to eliminate unhealthy distractions that are actually moving the executive further away from the goal and sabotaging progress. Then we identify the action steps necessary to move the executive closer to the goal so they can set themselves up for success.

Thanks to Tara Bradford, Bradford Partners!

#16-From the aspirational to the concrete.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Gebhardt Brizi

I start with an almost philosophical look at where I want to be in 3/5/10 years. A key question I ask myself is what do I want people to say about me when I'm not in the room?. From this I can work backwards: what does that look like in concrete terms? What do I have to be doing to achieve that? How must I be doing it? For whom? Where do I find those people? How do I communicate with them? How do I position my expertise in the way I want? Answering these questions builds those concrete goals required, from which I can then build step by step objectives to achieve that success.

Thanks to Rebecca G Brizi

#17- Creating vision boards and writing the goals down

Photo Credit: Dana Sidberry

I have been an entrepreneur for almost 10 years and goal setting has proved to be very difficult but necessary for me and my business. The easiest way to determine what my goals are is to visualize the next stop on my journey and determine the steps needed to take to get there then, my goals are set accordingly. I hold my self accountable by creating vision boards and writing the goals down in my goal book that I carry in my purse. This way, when I get busy with business, or off course and feel the need to remind myself of my path, I have it all written down to refer back to.

Thanks to Dana Sidberry, Motivation Marketing Firm!

#18-I use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to set my goals

Photo Credit: Franklin Antoian

Specific: I make my goals very specific. Increase clients in 3 months. Measurable: Increase clients _by 10 percent_ in 3 months. Attainable: If my goals are unattainable, Increase clients by 1000% in 3 months, I could get discouraged when they are not met. Relative: I keep my goals relative to my business and team. We don't want to be the best fitness apparel company, we focus on fitness workouts. Time Sensitive: Always set a deadline.

Thanks to Franklin Antoian,!

#19- Collaboration with my team

Photo Credit: Nick Bolton

My coaching school has grown at over 100% per year for the last five years in part due to how we set our goals as a team. I need to know my guys have a genuine desire to achieve our aims and are not just doing what I ask. We meet as a team in Q3 to set our vision and goals for the following year and we're driven by three key questions: What can we achieve that blows this  year's achievements out of the water?; What will you personally be passionate about spending time and energy to achieve?; What are the specific measures that will show we've achieved this in numbers or specific outcomes? From there we get indigestion-provokingly granular but the key for me is all in the collaboration that ensures the whole team is on fire  for the year ahead.

Thanks to Nick Bolton, Animas Centre for Coaching!

#20-I approach goal setting like that of a sports team

As the leader of a small business, with an extensive background in coaching sports, I approach goal setting like that of a sports team. In competitive sports, you establish goals based on winning and achievement that are crystal clear and easy to understand. I’ve applied the same theory to my business. Simply, my team and I identify where we want to improve, we then refine and establish the goal and path, and then execute. I believe goals are achieved through productivity, not just activity. Thus, the quicker we can get productive, the sooner we can reach our goals. Teamwork makes the dream work in sports and business. Thus, goal setting is an important aspect of performance on and off the field and in and out of the boardroom.

Thanks to John D. Norce, The Medicare Portal!

How do you determine and set your goals? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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