Setting Goals

Phil Hendry02/12/2020

Setting goals help deliver the life and business you want, here are the 3 types of goals you should set:


As Stephen Covey said in ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, “start with the end in mind”.  By doing this you can become far more clear on the life you want, then in turn understand what you really need to aim for with your business.  Whether it’s through a sale, retirement or death, one thing is for sure, we are all leaving our businesses at some point!  We have found that, with those business owners who are very intentional about this, their path to growth becomes much clearer, as does life after business.

Depending on the source, statistics suggest only around 30% of businesses actually sell when taken to market.  This is often because business owners want an exit due to stress, a lack of enjoyment, or a desire to try something else.  As you might expect, this is the worst possible time to try and sell your business, as clearly that is not a very desirable prospect for a buyer.

By working towards something intentionally, you can target the steps required to get there, and approach the next transition (whether it is a sale or further growth) with purpose.  The same can be said for lifestyle goals for you and your family.  This might be more time with your children while they are young, travelling while fit and able, or buying and spending time at a holiday home.

This requires you to set goals.  This a pretty vague thing to do though without becoming more focused, so be specific in quantifying the goal both by measure and timeframe, but keep it achievable.  We think, as a minimum, these three types of goal are a really good start:

A BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal…7/10 years)

What’s this?  Well this is the goal which requires you to think big.  This might be for your business to be the dominant player in your sector, to have a national presence or have a certain market share.  In life this might be to retire at 40, buy that ski chalet or become a scratch golfer.  This is something sighted by Jim Collins in his book ‘Good to Great’, which tries to identify historically what has been the difference between the good corporations in America, and the great ones.
The premise for this goal is to aim high over a longer timeframe, like 10 years.  Why?  Well for this goal in particular, aiming high helps to gradually overcome limiting beliefs.  We might have subconsciously limited what we think is possible, but by pushing beyond this, we begin to reshape what we think we can achieve.

This often means that should we not quite hit these goals, failure to do so, still pulls up the potential possible income.  What do I mean by that?  For example, if we use the golfing analogy, you are a 16 handicapper and you do everything required to become a scratch handicapper in 10 years….go to the golf range regularly, work with a coach, practice your short game, work on your mental game, compete in competitions regularly, exercise appropriately etc.  but after 10 years you are a 3 handicapper and don’t quite achieve you’re BHAG….surely this is still a success, and far in a way better than when you started.  But if you hadn’t set that ambitious goal, you wouldn’t have gone to the same length to improve, and likely still languish around that 16 handicap.

Aim big, make it achievable, and figure out what you need to do to get there.

‘The Bridge’ (3/5 year goal)

I think we have all heard someone talk about this and brushed it off….“What’s your 5 year plan?”  It feels too far in the future, so initial actions become too difficult to identify and implement.  But in isolation, not grand enough to really inspire.
This is why the BHAG is important.  It makes you want to work towards the 3/5 year goal, which in turn acts as ‘The Bridge’ between now and the BHAG.  It allows you to picture progress.

In your business, if you want to create a national presence as your BHAG, you may set this goal as creating a presence in every major town / city in your region in 3 years.  In your personal planning, this may look like a savings target of 50% of the current price of that holiday cottage on the coast.

Get this goal down on paper, and try to picture in as much detail as possible what this might look like, as it should be a little easier than the BHAG.  And the more specific, the easier it becomes to plot your course to get there.

‘The First Step’ (90 Days)

James Clear nails the reason to develop this goal in his book ‘Atomic Habits’.  He covers the way to begin developing a habit (or breaking one), and the key is to break down what you want to achieve into small easily consumed pieces.  We have all attempted a new habit whether its exercise, eating, learning something new etc., but where we usually go wrong is focusing on the overwhelming distance we need to cover to accomplish our achievements.

The key is to break down the steps to your end goal as much as possible.  As human beings we need the feeling of accomplishment and progress, so by breaking down the steps we need to take, then breaking them down again, it makes starting and continuing all the more achievable.  James Clear talks about a gentlemen who wanted to lose 100 pounds (he’s American!), so to get started, he said he would only stay at the gym for 5 minutes, then leave.  This made his challenge more palatable, and he gradually increased the time he spent at the gym.

As a business owner, you may just need to start by assessing your time to understand how to free up more (delegating better, recruiting for the lower value jobs, outsourcing) to in turn think about your business.  Or for personal planning, it could be to sit down with your family and gather up a proper summary of your finances, to then begin planning.

Start setting your goals now and keep working towards them.   But one crucial detail to remember is, don’t be a slave to a number.  Things change, so you will inevitably have to adapt these, and that’s ok.  Just make sure you use them as tools to give you clarity on where you want to go with your business, and your life.