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Proven Goal-Setting Tips for Entrepreneurs

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At the beginning of each new year, I find myself inundated with questions around goal setting. Setting goals is an inherent part of being an entrepreneur. When you start out as an entrepreneur, there’s no set path to follow. You need to create your own progress, and if you want that progress to be significant, you’ll need to set some goals for yourself.

But most entrepreneurs—in fact, most people in general—struggle with setting goals and achieving them. Whether it’s related to the success of your business, your health, your personal life, or your family, goal setting is a difficult process that leaves many people feeling discouraged and frustrated when they inevitably miss their goals at the end of the year.

There are many goal-setting tips for entrepreneurs, but in this post I’d like to cover a few of the most basic tips that I’ve found helpful in my own life. These are tips that I’ve been sharing with entrepreneurs for years, and while they may seem simple in nature, I guarantee they will help shift your thinking around goal setting and how it applies to your business and personal life.

A goal is a vision.

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when setting goals is that they focus only on the numerical component. Setting measurable goals is important, of course—it’s something I recommend all entrepreneurs do. But it’s just one component of the goal-setting process. A goal should be more than just a number.

When I set a goal for myself, I look at it as a chance to create a bigger and better version of myself. I look at the goal as a vision of myself in the future, being able to operate with bigger and better capabilities. Sure, there may be a number involved to help me get there, but the goal is bigger than just the numerical component.

This way of thinking makes the goal exciting. It’s no longer just a mountain of numbers to climb; it’s a new version of yourself that you can visualize. In the future, you’re going to be a new entrepreneur operating in a new way, and the goal is just meant to get you there.

This is perhaps my biggest goal-setting tip for entrepreneurs. While numbers are a vital component of goal setting, they’re not the be-all and end-all. Focus on creating a vision for yourself over the next year.

What new capability do you want to have? This could be anything: more revenue, a new piece of knowledge, a new business opportunity … Whatever it is, visualize it and how you’ll feel when you achieve it.

100 books in 100 quarters.

When I talk to entrepreneurs about goal setting, I often bring up one of the most lofty goals I’ve set for myself over the years. When I was 70 years old, I set a goal to write 100 books in 100 quarters.

When I set this goal, I made it very public. I told my team, my clients, and everyone in my network that I was going to put out 100 books over the next 100 quarters. And within just a few weeks, I was already thinking, “What did I get myself into?”

This goal seemed unattainable. I had no idea what I was doing or how I would manage to put out a book each quarter for the next 25 years.

Sound familiar? I’m sure most entrepreneurs reading this can relate to this situation and how I was feeling.

But I took a step back and remembered my own goal-setting tip. What did I really want to accomplish here? What was my vision for the future? When I broke it down, I discovered that I was really looking for two things: I wanted to present a new book to our entrepreneurs every quarter, and I never wanted to run out of new ideas or concepts for Strategic Coach.

From there, everything started to fall into place. The easiest way to start was to take the main idea I was currently focused on for our workshops and turn that into a book. Then, it just became a matter of coming up with one new idea each quarter and turning it into a book.

For me, this new vision was exciting, simple, and attainable. Creating a new book is a daunting endeavor. But coming up with new ideas to help entrepreneurs? That’s what I do best!

3 goal-setting tips for entrepreneurs in 2021.

I hope that example shows you that even your most lofty goals are attainable if you shift your thinking. And with that in mind, here are three simple goal-setting tips that you can implement for the year ahead.

  1. Start by visualizing yourself at the end of 2021. What’s going to be true about you as an entrepreneur at the end of this year? What will be true about your business? Your personal life?

    These questions will help you clarify what you ultimately want to achieve in 2021 and who you want to be. It all goes back to that first tip—creating a vision, not a goal.

  2. Use The Impact Filter. This is our most popular thinking tool at Strategic Coach, and it serves many different purposes. I recommend completing an Impact Filter for every goal you have.

    This will help you clarify:

    • What the goal is
    • Why it’s important
    • What difference it’s going to make
    • What the ideal outcome is
    • The best and worst results
    • The success criteria
  3. Remember the Who Not How mindset. Entrepreneurs often feel overwhelmed by their goals because they don’t know how they’ll achieve them. Instead of asking how to achieve your goals, start asking who will help you get there.

    When I first started on my goal of writing 100 books in 100 quarters, I had no idea how I was going to get all the work done. The primary reason I’ve been able to be successful with this goal is because I focused on finding the “Whos” for my “Hows.”

These three tips are simple, but I guarantee that any entrepreneur who follows them will be able to make 2021 their best year yet. And if you’re looking to truly take charge of your future, be sure to check out The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Goal Setting.

About the Author

Dan Sullivan is the world’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. He is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.

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