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Setting goals: how to map the road ahead

Peter Vanden Bos explores the subject of business goals and how to set them on, pointing out that smart CEOs might well understand the value of drawing a clear road map, but working out which direction to take is not easy task.

Vanden Bos warns: "Establishing business goals involves a fair amount of introspection into what makes your business tick, and what you want its future to be. Devoting the proper amount of time to do that can be difficult in a struggling economy, but your goals will be more achievable and effective if you do."


The first step towards creating a roadmap is distinguishing long-term goals from the short-term ones. Long-term goals should have a timeline of three to five years and articulate the company's mission statement.

Maria Marshall, an associate professor at Purdue University, tells Vanden Bos that these visionary goals usually fall within the following areas:

• Service – improving customer service
• Social – giving back to the community
• Profit – increasing margins
• Growth – expansion of the company

Vanden Bos explains that "Marshall likens each type of goal to a vacation destination, and the related short-term goals and objectives you establish afterward as the road map for getting there".

So once you've worked out where you want to go, you need to work out how to get there. Marshall has devised a system for setting short-term objectives in order to accomplish long term goals: making them S.M.A.R.T.

• Specific – make objectives detailed
• Measurable – give the objective a figure
• Action-oriented – assign specific tasks
• Realistic – make goals achievable
• Time specific – set a deadline

Vanden boss says: "Perhaps the most important component of these short-term goals is tying them into the long-term ones. Because you've already identified those long-term goals, it's easier to see how focusing on seemingly small details can be a step toward achieving a broader long-term aim."

How to Set Business Goals
Peter Vanden Bos