The Importance of Written Business Goals

Be committed to reaching your goals by getting them on paper

I visited a highly successful business last week. I walked into their shop only to be surprised and rather impressed that their business goals were posted on the wall. And not just a small sheet of paper on a cork board, but a large aluminum sign.

It was a constant reminder to employees what the business wants to achieve.

It is common for business owners to have a vision and objectives for their operation, but they are typically found only in one place -- their head. I have several concerns with that practice. It's proven that businesses are more likely to achieve goals that are agreed upon and written down. It's hard to hold yourself or the team accountable if nothing has been established.

Given most farms are led by multiple family members, it is even more paramount in our industry to ensure agreement on documented goals. To actually put it on paper forces the discussion amongst leaders.

When those types of discussions occur, it is surprising how much variation there are in opinions. Diversity is a great asset to have on any team, but not developing a common strategy and goals among the top is detrimental. There are many farms that have functioned for years or decades without establishing precisely what they want to achieve with the business, but I wonder how much more they could have achieved with more set plans.

Here are some good tips for business goal-setting. First, ensure they are realistic; they should be a stretch and challenge to achieve, but not impossible. It will only lead to discouragement among your team setting up the unattainable.  Second, make sure there's enough time to complete the goals. With each goal, you should establish specific action plans to assist in reaching them. If you set realistic timeframes for each action plan, your overall timing should be more accurate.

Last, monitor the progress and adjust the goals periodically - at least quarterly. They should not gather dust and be viewed every few years. Instead, make them a constant item of focus for the business from which all priorities stem.

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