Entrepreneurs are skilled at wearing many hats, it basically comes with the job description! But while we’re trying to balance and operate every facet of our business, important fundamentals can slip through the cracks – things as big as our mission, vision, values, and setting goals that support them all.

For many years I worked as an Executive Director of Human Resources at a Fortune 50 Company developing the mission, vision, and goals for business units across the organization. The process was frustrating and over-complicated – we’d have a meeting to prepare for another meeting, which would ultimately lead to another meeting. We had discussion after discussion, but in the midst of all of the “planning,” nothing was actually getting done and not a single person was energized.  

Here is the key: remove the complexity and pressure from the process! Effective goal setting should not only provide a clear path to follow but should also keep you on track to reach your destination. When you open up your thinking and look at these objectives from a different perspective, it allows more creativity and innovation to come to light. So here are a few helpful tips I’ve developed to create the vision, mission, values, and goals that drive a successful business.

Get Clarity – Mission
First, let’s step out of our own way and allow ourselves the freedom to ask some key questions:

What do you want to do?
What do you want your company to be?
What do you want to accomplish?

These seemingly small questions add up to form the very fabric of your business. Challenge yourself to do the work and determine what you want – not what you want to do for others. You became a photographer, calligrapher, marketing guru, or blogger for a reason, so it’s important to know the why behind that reason. Is it to make money? To change the world? To impact the environment? When you identify what you want, you’ll have the ability to direct your business. Finding and articulating your true motivation quickly opens doors to great clarity. You just created your mission, and we’re only getting started!

Determine Direction and Talk it Out – Vision
The next step is to think about where your company aspires to be upon achieving your mission. A mission statement details what you want to do now, while a vision statement outlines what you want to be in the future. Your vision statement is your source of inspiration and motivation. It answers the question, “Where do I aim to be?” Answer that question and you’ve got your company vision!

Pro tip: Sometimes the best way to map out your vision is to first talk it out with a friend, mentor, family member, or even your furry bestie. Let yourself say it out loud while someone else is listening and taking notes (or licking your hand). Don’t worry about perfection, just let the words come. Chances are you’ll feel energized talking through your passions and goals. Then read everything back to yourself and finesse the wording. You can even create a vision board with post-it notes to make it fun and interactive!

Determine What’s Important to You – Values
Values are deeply held beliefs about the right way of doing things. When you’ve created your vision, ask yourself, “What is most important to me and my business? What are my non-negotiables?” These answers will dictate the values that drive you and your company in years to come. Values are the filter through which you make decisions. They’ll determine the culture of your company, the employees you attract, the clients you serve and what you’re known for. Once your values are clearly defined, you’ll have a guide in place for making tough decisions. When you have your value-compass, it keeps you from compromising what is important to you. So stay true to yourself and the values you hold dear. After all, you’re the boss!

Stay SMART – Goal Setting
Now that you know what you want to be, where you want to go, and what’s important to you – it’s time to pinpoint your focus. Without a clear focus, your business is just operating instead of achieving. Identify what you need to accomplish and determine realistic ways to attain what you want. Once you’ve done this, you have your goals! As a rule of thumb, the goals you set should follow the SMART format below.

S – Specific. The more specific you get, the easier it is to have clarity around the goals you’re trying to achieve.

M – Measurable. This is how you’ll assess if you’ve achieved the goal. Have metrics in place so you know when you’ve hit your mark. The more specific the numbers/details, the better.

A – Achievable. It’s fun to develop big, audacious goals, but they need to be attainable. Encourage yourself to stretch, but make sure it’s within the confines of what you can accomplish.

R – Relevant. Define what matters to your business and then stick to it. For example, if you aren’t an educator, offering online courses might not be relevant to your plan. It’s better to be the master in one area rather than spread yourself too thin in others.

T – Time Bound. It’s important to create deadlines. Otherwise, it’s easy to put your goals on the back burner. Create a “best if done by” date to keep yourself on track.

Set Aside the Time to Review and Measure
Well done! You’ve completed your mission, vision, values, and goals. The final step is to keep them in front of you. Whether it’s just you or you have employees in your business, make sure everyone is clear on the goals and vision. Set aside time to review the metrics periodically and ensure they’re measuring up to your goals. Being nimble and shifting when necessary is a part of small business, so you can adjust goals as needed. But don’t forget to reward yourself when you accomplish what you set out to do. It’s time to enjoy all of your hard work, you’ve earned it!

While these steps are simple, they’re not necessarily easy. Challenge yourself! When you do, it’ll serve as your motivation (even when all you want to do is wrap yourself up in your down comforter with your corgi and watch Peaky Blinders – just me?). Not only will you come away with actionable goals for your business, but you’ll also have a renewed sense of freedom and peace like never before.

If you’d like to dive deeper and get more clarity around your goals, download this worksheet to get helpful tips and tricks to get started.