Setting Goals—A Matter Of Life and Death For SMEs

“Hitch your wagon to a star.” This phrase from an 1892 poet, Ralph Waldon Emerson is my rallying call, every day. It means—set high goals or aim high.

Setting goals can do wonders not just to our businesses, but also our lives. Have you ever read of situations where people survived dire situations just because they had set a goal to accomplish something? It was the hope of completing that task that kept them alive.

Psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, in his memoir “Man’s Search for Meaning,” writes of how individual goals kept some people alive in Nazi concentration camps. In the book, there is a story of two men in the camp who had decided to commit suicide—but then one of them started thinking of his child who was waiting for him, and the other one had some scientific books that he wanted to finish. Those goals were like a north star to them, and they both chose to live.

But how do we set reasonable goals?

In my first Soko Mjinga Vibes blog, I talked about my wide-eyed and simple-minded belief that my business would immediately succeed because I had a great business idea and lots of years of experience. While I had a worthwhile goal, my expectations were hardly realistic.

Later, I found practical goal-setting advice in a book titled “Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work Volume 1”. There are loads of excellent suggestions to be found in chapter 39. .

Here are some of them.


Brainstorm potential goals. Write down as many ideas as you can. Evaluate your ideas. Which ones seem the most exciting? The most challenging? Which would you be especially proud of achieving? Prioritize. Number your goals according to the order in which you would like to achieve them.

✔ 2 PLAN

For each of the goals you’ve chosen, do the following:

a. List your goal.

b. Set a deadline. A goal without a deadline is just a dream!

c. Plan the steps involved.

d. Anticipate obstacles. Then think of how you’ll overcome them.

e. Commit, sign and date it.

✔ 3 ACT!

a. Start immediately. Ask yourself, ‘What can I do today to start toward my goal?’

b. Review your goals daily. Remind yourself why each one is important to you.

c. Use your imagination. Think ahead and imagine yourself achieving your goal.

However, many of us find it very difficult to be reasonable about the type of goals that we set for our businesses.

The word ‘reasonable’ contains the thought of being considerate and sensible. Other terms that can apply are; rational, full of common sense and yielding.

A reasonable business owner will be able to take a balanced look at the company’s circumstances and make adjustments on how to make better use of physical, mental, and emotional resources.

These six steps are helpful when setting business goals.

1. Define quantifiable goals

2. Make your goals specific

3. Commit to your goals

4. Make your goals public

5. Set a deadline

6. Reward yourself

Note to my future self.

Setting a goal is only half the journey. I need to follow through, have the self-discipline to persevere, and not yield too easily to other people’s influences. When I am practical and purposeful with my goals, I’ll lead a richer and more meaningful life.