How To Set Long-Term Goals in Business
Your ability to set long-term goals and constantly be thinking about the future of your business has an inordinate impact on the success and profitability of your enterprise.
All top executives are long-term thinkers.
They project forward five years and they think about where they want to be and what they will have to be doing at that time in order to achieve their long-term goals. They are constantly asking themselves how to set goals and better their strategic planning process to further their business success.
How To Set Goals That Will Launch Your Business Into Success
The key to a successful long-term strategic planning process is for you to identify the core competencies you will require, and then begin immediately to develop or to acquire those core competencies so that you will be strongly positioned for the markets and competition in the future.
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Your job is to constantly be thinking about the future. To have a successful planning process, you must take the necessary steps in the short term to guarantee that you will achieve the profitability that you desire in the long term. This ability to think long-term has never been more important or more valuable than it is today. It is a real key to profitability.
Develop a Clear Sense of Direction Through The Strategic Planning Process
You’ve heard it said that when you are up to your you-know-what in alligators, it’s hard to remember that you came here to drain the swamp. Because of the turbulence of today’s marketplace, most executives and managers have been reduced to operating, almost like firefighters on a daily basis. They are totally preoccupied with short-term problems and the need to get short-term operating results. They intend to spend more time thinking about the future and planning but they don’t ever seem to get around to it. They never have time and they are too busy to make time.
What is a Long-Term Goal?
Long-term goals are objects of your ambition or effort that will take time to accomplish. They cannot be achieved quickly. Rather, they require careful planning and serious commitment.
Although they are more daunting than short-term goals, the same goal-setting concept of chunking applies. Chunking is simply the process of breaking down everything that is required to achieve your long-term intention into small segments or tasks. Looking at your tasks in this light allows you to address everything in bite-sized “chunks.” This way you only need to get one small task done at a time, but when all of these undertakings add up, you will have accomplished a much larger, “long-term goal.”
This approach can be applied to any project.
For instance, if you want to become a published author to expand your business, where should you start?
I recommend setting your long term goal to be reaching the bestsellers list and supporting it with shorter goals along the way. The first goal might simply be to learn how to write a book. After you find a system that other authors have used successfully, you can set milestones for your timeline. In this case, those milestones – or short-term goals – might include planning, writing, editing, designing, marketing, and publisher-prepping your book.
Ultimately, these short-term goals will support your long-term goal of becoming a best-selling author.
Set Long-Term Goals and Constantly Be Thinking About The Future
But this is not for you. You need to set clear targets for yourself and for every part of your business. In fact, perhaps your most important responsibility to your people is to give them a clear sense of direction in their work. They need this to perform at their best, and they can’t do their best without it. In fact, according to psychologists, the greatest de-motivator in the world of work is not knowing what’s expected, or not being clear about your long-term goals.
There’s a simple five-part formula for developing a sense of direction that you can use for the rest of your career. It’s called the GOSPA Formula. The letters in the word GOSPA stand for Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Priorities, and Activities.
Let’s start with how to set goals. A goal is a specific place where you want to end up, at the end of a specific period of time. For example, your goal could be a certain volume of sales, or a certain level of profitability at the end of a quarter or the end of a year.
The letter O stands for objectives. These are the sub-goals that you will have to accomplish in order to achieve your long-term goal. If your one-year goal is a certain dollar level of profitability, your objectives could be in the areas of sales, marketing, distribution, manufacturing, cost control, staff development, technology and so on. Achieving these objectives, the goals are achieved as well.
The third letter in GOSPA stands for strategies. Your strategy is the method that you’re going to use to accomplish the objective on the way to your goal. For example, with regard to sales your strategy could be to build an internal sales force, or your strategy could be to outsource all selling to a professional sales organization. And there could be numerous sub-strategies within the single sales strategy.
The fourth letter in the GOSPA Formula, P, stands for priorities. Throughout the strategic planning process, you must know what are the things that you will have to do first, and what are the things that you will have to do second? Which items are more important and which items are less important? You always have to be setting priorities.
The final letter in the GOSPA Formula is A, which stands for activities. These are the specific daily functions that are clearly delegated to specific individuals with standards of performance and specific deadlines.
If you have thought out this process completely, each activity will be determined by the current priorities. The achievement of the priorities will lead to the accomplishment of the strategy. When your strategy is carried out, you will achieve your objectives and at the end of the time period, you will have reached your goal of a specific level of sales or profitability.
One of the primary qualities of executives in high-profit businesses is that they are continuously going through the strategic planning process. They are always playing down the board. They’re always thinking about the future and about the various different things they can do, and how to set goals in order to make their desired future a reality.
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To learn more about setting goals effectively, checkout my related article SMART Goals 101: Examples, A Free Template, And Everything You Need To Know
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.