How many times have you set goals and couldn't follow through? Maybe it was bringing your product to a new market or building out your marketing team. Whatever the case may be, goals are set, but expectations are never meet.
Sound familiar? You're not alone; many of the world's most successful entrepreneurs either struggled or continue to struggle with executing goals. This is one of the major pain points during the early stages of Wakanow, an online traveling agency for people traveling to and from Africa. From personal experience and talking with other entrepreneurs, meeting goals is as tough as time management.
But, I learned a few things during my years that I'd argue will give many that competitive edge when building a business. In fact, they've helped me receive my latest AABLA award, Entrepreneur of the Year West Africa 2015. Here's how to not only set goals, but to achieve them.
Set Realistic Goals and Stick to Them
Entrepreneurs naturally think big. There's no doubting this, and it's healthy for success. When setting goals, keep the big picture in mind, but make the goals realistic. First, separate the wants from the needs (you'll be shocked at how many goals are not urgent) and ask a lot of questions. For example, you may want to launch an updated product or service within a month, but do you truly have the bandwidth to complete the task? Consider your time and resources as well as those of everybody involved in the project. How many other projects do they have, and what do those timelines look like?
Once you reassess, you might find that your project will take longer than you anticipated. Factor in extra time to allow for unforeseeable circumstances. This will not only allow the process to run cleaner and smoother but will calm your nerves, allowing you to make more sound decisions.
Don't Go Crazy - Choose Only 3-5 Goals to Chase
Now you have realistic goals. But, how many should be in play at the same time? From experience, five to seven goals work well -- with a bulk of those being short-term (say, within a quarter). During the initial stages of Wakanow, I was trying to achieve too much too soon. I juggled building areas of the website that assisted visitors with simple hotel arrangements and setting up affiliates with multiple companies at once. Once I learned to slow down the rate with which I tried to achieve my goals, I was able to dedicate more time to each one, and things happened quicker - much quicker. It's easier to focus when you don't have other ideas weighing you down.
Track Progress and Write a To-Do List
Just as solid reporting is an absolute must for correctly analyzing the financial situation of your business, it's equally important for tracking the progress of goals. Use an excel sheet if you're the analytical type, or write a simple, daily "to-do" list.
I set an hour every morning to plan my day, blocking off time for each project or meeting. I also schedule a half hour to track the progress of my goals - both short- and long-term. This technique can help minimize the stress of actually executing each goal.
Think how important and how hard entrepreneurs work toward perfecting their time management skills. Those who take these steps are usually the most successful. Learning how to set realistic goals and execute them in the most non-stressful and time-efficient ways. These tips are the first step to optimally achieving your goals. Start perfecting the process now by making these tips your first goal of the new week.
Obinna Ekezie is the co-founder and CEO of Wakanow.com, the leading full-service, online travel company in Africa.