Focusing on Business Goals: 6 Ways to Stay Targeted

AdobeStock 100937534 | Focusing on Business Goals: 6 Ways to Stay Targeted

Nine out of ten businesses fail to reach the strategic objectives they set because they don’t implement well, Economist surveys show. While there isn’t a single barrier that can be blamed for the issue, it often comes down to maintaining focus. An idea may look good on paper, but implementing it, especially as day-to-day operations ensue and new challenges emerge, is difficult. On this page, we’ll walk you through tips for focusing on business goals and how to stick with them even as conditions change.

1. Set Clear and Measurable Goals

Developing clear and measurable goals is the first step to maintaining focus on the goals you create. The SMART Goals framework takes the guesswork out of the goal-setting process and helps ensure your goals have staying power.

Use the SMART Goals Method

SMART is short for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound. 

  • Specific: Goals should be clear and specific to provide a business focus. For instance, instead of setting a broad goal such as “increase sales,” a specific goal would be “increase sales of service X by ten percent.”
  • Measurable: Your goals should have criteria for measuring progress and success. This could be anything from numerical targets or defining milestones that can be checked off as they’re achieved. 
  • Achievable: Ambition can only get you so far alone. Your goals must be realistically attainable based on available resources, knowledge, and time. For instance, you might set a target to double your business size in one month, but it wouldn’t be realistic without substantial capital and operational adjustments.
  • Relevant: Goals must align with broader business objectives and contribute to the overall strategic plan of the business.  For example, a goal related to expanding a product line would be relevant if market research supports increased demand.
  • Timebound: Every goal must have a target completion date so that there is a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This enables you to prioritize tasks and manage time more effectively. 

2. Prioritize Your Goals

Goal prioritization is crucial to strategic planning, managing goals efficiently, and allocating resources effectively. Understanding how to prioritize involves distinguishing between tasks based on importance and urgency, which helps leaders focus on what truly moves the needle for their business.

How to Identify High-Priority Tasks

To determine which tasks are high-priority, it’s important to consider:

  • Impact on Strategic Objectives: Evaluate how closely a task is aligned with key business goals. Tasks that directly relate to these objectives should be prioritized. 
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Prioritize tasks based on their potential to generate revenue or significant benefits relative to cost.
  • Urgency: Tasks that have imminent deadlines or that are critical to other business operations should be high on the priority list. 
  • Dependency: Some tasks may be prerequisites for others. Identifying and completing these foundational tasks may enable you to progress in other areas.

3. Break Down Large Goals into Manageable Tasks

Breaking down large goals into manageable tasks will help you maintain momentum and ensure you make progress because it makes the goals less overwhelming and creates a clear path to success. 

Set Milestones

Milestones act as checkpoints along the way to achieving a larger goal. They provide a timeline of expected achievements, which keeps the team on track and motivated. For instance, if a small business decides to expand its market reach, milestones might include completing market research, launching a marketing campaign, and achieving specific sales targets by certain dates.

Use Tools for Managing Milestones and Tasks

Many digital tools help you manage tasks and milestones more effectively. While they can be procured individually, they’re often bundled as a single software package.

Project Management Software

Tools like Wrike, Asana, and Trello allow teams to visualize project tasks, assign responsibilities, set deadlines, and track progress. These platforms often include features like Gantt charts to manage timelines and dependencies, which can make managing and achieving business goals easier.

Time Tracking Tools

Apps like Toggl and Harvest help you track time spent on tasks, providing insights into productivity and ensuring that efforts are aligned with priorities. 

Collaboration Tools

Platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams enable your team to communicate and collaborate.

Celebrate Small Wins

Recognizing achievements, even if small, boosts morale and motivates the team. Research shows that the feel-good sensation from reaching a goal can also have a cumulative effect, as Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports. Because of this, celebrating small wins can reinforce the behaviors and strategies that led to success, which can then be replicated to achieve future goals. Make sure you’re tracking business goals and acknowledging each win as it comes.

4. Avoid Multitasking

Lifelong multitaskers will swear it makes them more efficient, but research suggests otherwise. “Multitaskers do less and miss information,” HBR notes. Something as simple as stopping to view an email can derail attention spans. It takes an average of 15 minutes to re-orient to the primary task after, resulting in up to a 40 percent efficiency drop. Long-term memory and creativity also suffer.

Tips for Single-Tasking

To help eliminate the multitasking from your routine:

  • Prioritize Tasks: Start the day by identifying and organizing tasks in order of priority. Tackle the most important or challenging tasks when cognitive resources are strongest, which is early in the day for most people.
  • Time Blocking: Allocate blocks of time to particular tasks. This technique helps you focus on one activity at a time and reduces the urge to switch tasks. 
  • Set Clear Boundaries: Interruptions can force you to multitask, so setting boundaries is crucial. You may want to set specific times for when you’re available for calls or emails or post a sign at your door when you’d prefer not to be disturbed. 
  • Use Technology Wiseley: Turn off email and social media notifications during focused work periods to prevent distractions. Tools that limit website access during certain times can also help you maintain focus.

5. Delegate When Necessary

Delegation is essential, especially in small businesses where resources are limited, and people often wear many hats. Delegating allows you to focus your efforts on strategic tasks by distributing operational tasks to team members, which optimizes productivity and employee skills development. 

How to Identify Which Tasks to Delegate

To identify which tasks to delegate, consider the following factors:

  • Skill Level Required: Evaluate tasks that do not require your unique skills or high-level decision-making. These are typically good candidates for delegation. 
  • Development Opportunities: Consider whether a task can help a team member develop new skills or knowledge. Delegating tasks that serve as growth opportunities can increase job satisfaction and competence. 
  • Time Consumption: If a task consumes a disproportionate amount of your time but contributes minimally to strategic goals, it’s a strong candidate for delegation.
  • Repetitiveness: Routine and repetitive tasks are often easily documented and taught, making them ideal for delegation. 

6. Get Professional Advice When Stuck

Reaching out for professional advice when you feel stuck is a proactive business strategy that can help you overcome obstacles, gain new perspectives, and continue progressing toward your goals. 

How to Tell When You’re Stuck

There are many signs that may signal it’s time to reach out to an expert. A few examples are covered below.

  • Repeatedly Facting the Same Problems: If you find yourself dealing with the same issues repeatedly without a clear resolution, it might be time to seek external advice.
  • Lack of Progress: Professional insight could provide a much-needed breakthrough if your business goals remain unmet over extended periods despite your efforts or growth has plateaued. 
  • Decision Paralysis: When you’re unable to make a decision, either because you’re overwhelmed by options or scared of potential outcomes, it could be a sign that you need external input. 
  • Feeling Overwhelmed or Burnt Out: These emotional states can potentially impact your ability to think clearly and lead effectively. An external perspective can help you reevaluate your situation and workload.

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