Zig Ziglar summed up goals pretty well when he said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
When I got started in dentistry I realized quickly that the profession could be a lonely endeavor. I had and still have terrific staff members and other support, but there were times that I was the only dentist around. Sometimes it felt like I was the only one on the planet. If I felt like that, I knew other dentists felt that way too.
My goal when I started my media company was to somehow connect all of those cottage-industry members. It’s been almost 16 years since I set out with that desire. The goal never changed. However, I did add to it. I acquired other goals that supported my main goal of connecting dentists.
Fortitude is great, but don’t get stuck endlessly chasing just one goal. You’ll know when you’ve succeeded in it and you’re ready to look bigger, broader, and start creating new goals.
Take a look at your business and ask yourself, “What’s my goal?” If you don’t know or you don’t have a definite answer, then you’d better sit down and take some time to figure it out. Have an aim, figure out your trajectory and then take your shot.
The following excerpt on goals is from my new book, “Uncomplicate Business: All It Takes Is People, Time, and Money.” The book comes out in October 2015 and is available for pre-order at HowardFarran.com.
Excerpt: When I began my media company for the dental profession, my goal was to connect every dentist around the world via the Internet so that no dentist would ever have to practice solo again. Dentistry is a cottage industry and many dentists practice alone. It’s hard to practice dentistry alone in your little corner of the world. I noticed the best interactions between dentists did not occur during formal presentations at dental conferences, but outside the meetings, over a drink or hanging out by the pool. That’s when they could really exchange stories about difficult cases or interesting patients who came through their doors. They were great conversations, but they were too infrequent. I wanted those discussions to happen in a closed forum online, so I decided to start my own website. I wanted my site to be a functional site where a community of dental professionals could flourish and raise the bar for dentistry as a whole.
Back in 1998, I was such a huge fan of Microsoft that we based our message boards off of their system. The problem was we weren’t get- ting much action on the boards. We got a lot of complaints; it wasn’t intuitive enough. It was a general pain, but I thought it was the most popular model for message boards at the time. That is, until I walked into work one day and saw one of my programmers checking out the message boards on ESPN. I asked him about the differences and he showed me.
The interface was so easy and intuitive. You didn’t need instructions to figure out how to post a comment in a thread. It was awesome. Right then and there we decided to scrap the direction we were headed and went with a new platform.
We adhered to our original goal, but tweaked it. Every day since, we have asked ourselves whether we are sticking with our goals and whether they should still be our goals.
In order to run a successful business, you need to have more than just a personality that is wired for business. You need appropriate and powerful goals.
You can’t drive your business without goals or direction, much like you can’t drive a car without a steering wheel. The tricky part is developing these goals—goals that will sustain your company both short term and long term. In 2010 the Annual Staples National Small Business Survey indicated 80 percent of the three hundred small businesses surveyed didn’t keep track of their business goals. Seventy-seven per- cent said they hadn’t even met their vision of the company. Why is that? I mean, if you think about it, isn’t it amazing these businesses are still afloat? Is it possible that these small businesses have set the wrong goals for themselves?
Most businesses starting out will try to follow a certain business plan with certain goals in mind, but most of the time those efforts prove to be fruitless. You must be able to change your goals to fit the circumstances, and circumstances are changing all the time. You must be able to switch directions and alter your goals so that you can realistically achieve them.
Building an online community was only one of our goals. Our other goals were a lot broader, and a lot more personal.
You need to set goals for your business and for you personally. Consider which of these personal goals is most important to you:
- To improve the lives of your fellow man
- To become a pillar of your community
- To earn a spot on the board of a larger company
- To get rich
Surely we’re all in business for personal reasons—selfish or unselfish. Otherwise what’s the real purpose of running a business at all?