How to Set a Business Objective

All of successful people are agreed on one thing – don’t mix up your objec­tives. Take, for example, advice on the type of person to hire into your business; it is quite different depending on your objective. If you are trying to build the ‘best’ or the ‘biggest’, you will have to hire really good people and take on board the prob­lems such people inevitably bring with them. If your concern is to live the way you want unfettered by outsiders’ demands, you no more want the hassles of the creative and bright than you want a heron on your goldfish pond. Eventually the options boil down to three:

– Money. Some people simply want to be rich. They want to make a lot of money as quickly as possible and then retire early to spend more time with their grown­up families than they ever did when they were young. To do this, they have to build a dream business with apparent shareholder value that they can sell in, probably, an earn-out allowing them to do another three years in the business before retiring as one of the richest five hundred in the land. The decisions that such people take will be as consistent as possible with the well-being of the business as such, but the over-riding objective is their personal wealth and they will take risks with the business in that regard. As one of them so neatly put it, ‘OK, maybe we are growing a bit too fast for the theorists, but I don’t want to have to dig my own swimming pool.’ Often charming, sometimes simply frightening, these people know exactly what they want and will work hard and do whatever is necessary to make that hap­pen. Don’t, incidentally, get in their way if you are a ‘quiet life’ person. Their strengths include their enthusiasm and their ability to understand in­stantly the way they should take their business forward – the aiming point is easy to identify. The successful ones discover new insights in how to manage a business for owner’s profit, and everyone can learn from them.

– Fame. Other people want to build a business to make a name for themselves. They will happily appear in their own advertisements and punt themselves as gurus to the broadcasters and press at any opportunity. They desire a high profile, an OBE at least and eventually seats on government agencies that pay very little or nothing but give them cocktail party access to the great and the good. They too will work hard and do what is necessary to fulfil their dream. Their strengths include their unquenchable self-belief and single-mindedness. Add to that the amount of free publicity they can generate to advance their businesses and you can see the connection between their ambition and their companies’ success. If they have a weakness, it can be suspicion and fear of other talented people in the business, whom they think might eclipse their reputation as being, in fact ‘the person in the one-person business.’ I knew one who declared that he wanted inscribed on the tombstone above his grave the epitaph ‘He was the founder of Esprit’ (Esprit being the name of his com­pany).

-Lifestyle. Some people tire of the rat race and want to get out to build a more suitable lifestyle. Ambition will change dramatically how they run their businesses. Their personal lives are completely mixed in with their business lives, and decision-making on the latter will always start from the former. Often they are fulfilling their lifelong passion or hobby and turning it into a business that will probably not put them up with the mega-rich, and certainly not make them feature in the national press, but that is not their dream, and that is not how they define success.

So, which are you? All three objectives obey the attributes of a good objective, namely:

  • measurable – they will know when they have reached the dream;
  • achievable – many people have succeeded before them and often not the most likely people (in fact, by following common-sense rules you really can build the business of your dreams); and
  • time targeted – you have to know when you want to get there, because we are a long time dead.

But most of all they are specific and clear. They give the aiming point and thus define the opening, middle and end games. So take a moment to decide what you want to do, and then read on to discover, from a combination of peoples’ experi­ences and sound business practices, how to get there.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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