We all know companies who have had short term success. They do well for a while and then “suddenly” they are out of business. However, when you look closely at their circumstances, it is not sudden after all. Most collapse because there was no plan for sustainable success – long-term success is much harder to obtain than short term.
The way to achieve long term success is a subject people have talked about for centuries – along with the question, “Why do some people have it and others don’t?” There are a few ways small business owners have achieved success over the years that do not rely on goal setting. But, counting on pure dumb luck is not an effective business plan. Goal setting is the gold standard; it has stood the test of time.
Sometimes working toward your goals is satisfying, rewarding and worthwhile, while other times it is hard, time consuming and boring. But remember, successful people do things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Here are the 3 steps they use to achieve their long term goals.
1. Write a plan – A lot of people sabotage themselves at the very beginning of their search for success. Although it is illogical, the more they want something, the less likely they are to develop a plan to reach it. It is basic human nature – we think that good intentions, positive thinking and will power are enough to carry us through.
They are not enough, not even close. Thinking is not action, doing is action. We need to “do”, to work, our way to achievement. People with written plans are much more likely to complete their goals than those who do not have one.
2. Break it down – Once the plan is written, it should be broken down into manageable pieces. Each goal should be parsed into small, practical actions; otherwise, it is too uncontrollable and complex. When people do not have control, they feel frustrated, confused, and inadequate to the task, which leads to abandoning it.
For example, Kevin set the goal of “Make More Money.” It was a good goal, but impossible to achieve as written. How was he going to do it and where was he going to start (i.e. Increase sales, decrease production costs, lower overhead, cut labor, improve quality)? He worked with an outside expert to define and quantify the ideas into manageable, measurable daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
3. Build in consequences and rewards – Motivation is hard to sustain, which is why a lot of people struggle with meeting long-term goals. A good plan for achieving them builds in accountability measures or motivation – the carrot and the stick. People are much more likely to accomplish their goals when this happens.
After the plan is written and broken down into measurable tasks, it is important to add benchmarks. Benchmarks will let you know when and if you have reached your goals. Each benchmark should have a reward or consequence attached to it. If the mark is hit then the reward is given, if it is not the consequence is activated.
Involving others is very helpful to this process. People are more successful in reaching their goals when others know about them. Kevin and his coach created a system – when he reached a goal he spent Saturday morning with his family and when he did not reach a goal he spent Saturday morning at work. His family was a big motivating factor for him to stay on track.
The definition of success is a personal one. It is unique to each of us and only we can say if we have reached it. Unfortunately, most people say they have not attained it. As the saying goes, “There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.” (Mark Twain)
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: