Quantifying your goals can be a long process. You'll have to gather a lot more information before you're ready to set specific targets. Eventually, you'll probably want to put those goals together in the form of a business plan. But before we move on to the process of getting that information, let's take a look at some of the guidelines you should follow when quantifying your goals:

• Be specific — establish targets that can be easily measured, and use numbers as targets whenever possible. For example, you may set a goal of selling your goods or services across a particular number of counties or states, having a certain number of employees, or reaching a particular level of sales. Tie those numbers to specific time frames (within six months, within two years, within 10 years, etc.).

• Be realistic — having high expectations is great, but make sure that you establish targets that are reasonable and potentially achievable. If you're opening a fast-food restaurant, to say that you want to be bigger than McDonald's within six months is not realistic.

• Be aggressive — you can be realistic and still aim high. Don't set goals that are too easily achieved; also, set both short-term and long-term goals. If, after six months in business, you accomplish all of your goals, then what? Don't sell yourself short; if you want to be bigger than McDonald's within 20 years, go for it.

• Be consistent — Beware of inadvertently setting inconsistent goals. For example, a goal of growing fast enough to have three employees within two years might be inconsistent with a goal of earning a particular amount of money if the cost of adding the employees ends up temporarily reducing your income below the target level. There is nothing wrong with having both goals. Just be aware that the potential conflict exists, and establish priorities among your goals so that you'll know which ones are most important to you.

In developing your goals and objectives, you should be specific where achievements can be measured. Normally you would have a numbered list of a few selected objectives. Keep your list to about ten, because long lists make it hard to focus.

Making your goals concrete is the best way, possibly the only way, to tell when you've achieved them. Your chance of implementation depends on your being able to track progress toward goals and measure results, and implementation is critical. Set measurable objectives such as sales or sales growth, profits or profitability, market share as published by an objective and accessible source, gross margin as percent of sales, for example.

Avoid listing vague goals that can't be tracked. Where general or intangible goals are important to your business, find a way to make them specific. For example, if customer satisfaction is a priority, put your objectives in terms of percent of returns, specific numbers of complaints, or letters of praise, or some other measure related to satisfaction. If image or awareness is a priority, include a survey to measure the change in percentages in your plan. You can build a customer satisfaction survey into your plan, set the sample size and satisfaction scores you want to achieve, then carry out the survey to check on success.

Since you deal with products, you might watch gross margin or unit sales, so you should set objectives for these key factors. If you are a distribution company, for example, then you will also want to focus on tight management of logistics, working capital, and personnel costs. If you are a publisher, then you might focus on product quality, titles, or marketing. This obviously depends on your type of business

Author's Bio: 

Brian Hazelgren is a globally recognized expert in business planning, strategic planning, infrastructure development, training, sales and operations. He has written 7 books, three of them are course text books in several colleges and have received many awards, and have been translated into four languages. Brian is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and conventions throughout the country.

Brian has consulted with many companies on a local, national and international scale and has developed strategies and tactical programs to increase revenue by 140% to over 4,000%. His techniques of sales, marketing, logistics and operations have spanned small business, large enterprises, non-profit organizations, and government.

Brian is an Adjunct Professor a major in their MBA Entrepreneurship Program. He has also been a judge for five years for the statewide business planning competition The Entrepreneur Challenge.

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