Oftentimes, aspiring entrepreneurs fail to properly consider their personal goals for their business idea. While setting business goals is of course an essential component of setting up and operating a successful business, these aren’t the only goals you need to stick to. It’s also important to be in touch with your personal goals and motivation for starting and running your business and remember what you’re trying to get out of it. Without these, you risk losing track of what you set out to personally achieve and make business decisions that are not aligned with your ideals.


The difference between business and personal goals

Business goals are about the objectives and milestones for your business that are specific and achievable. Personal goals for your business can have more or less the same components as your business goals, but largely focus on completely different end goals. For example, your business goals will generally focus on creating and maintaining the following points:

  • A solid and sustainable business model
  • A team of qualified staff to help run the business effectively
  • Low costs and staff turnover rates
  • High productivity and job satisfaction
  • A successful and profitable business.

Your business goals will also specify measurable objectives like reaching a certain number of customers or selling a certain number of products. These are all in the pursuit of a sustainable and profitable business that continues to flourish and grow.

However, there is a bigger set of goals above your business’s specific goals. Your personal goals are the reasons why you created the business from the start and the motivation for setting and trying your hardest to achieve the business goals.

Consider yourself as an employee. Even in a company where you’re doing passionate work and being appreciated and fairly rewarded, the company’s goals don’t necessarily mean anything significant to you. Sure, it can depend on your personality and the foreseeable promotions you can achieve in the lifetime of your employment there. But you’re not willing to put in hours of unpaid overtime every day and obsess over the company’s success because the simple truth is that it isn’t your company. It isn’t your baby, and it’s not your personal project. This doesn’t make you or anybody else selfish; It’s just the reality.

However, the owners of that company you don’t lose any sleep over WILL put in countless hours night in, night out because the success of the company can directly impact their personal life goals and achievements.


How do you set personal goals for your business?

So, with your personal goals being such an important aspect of your business that will keep you grounded to work hard and create and maintain a successful business that can nurture its staff, how do you actually develop them? Well, you don’t really. You just need to identify them.


Ask yourself why.

It’s a bit like asking yourself the purpose of your life or talking to a child going through the “why” stage. It can seem like an easy and simple exercise but becomes increasingly difficult the more you think about it. You thought you wanted to start an IT company because most other IT companies you dealt with lacked knowledgeable and well-rounded experts and had terrible customer service. But then someone comes along and asks, “but why do you want to start an IT company?” Is it to provide high quality IT solutions to companies worldwide? If so, why?


And ask yourself why some more.

Dig deeper and try to identify what you really want and what you’re trying to achieve. Don’t stop at a “good enough” answer that hasn’t quite gotten to the bottom of your personal goals. The important thing here is to separate your business mind from your personal goal-oriented mindsets. When your answer becomes more about the business, clear your mind and re-focus.


Determine your personal values.

Companies set their organisational values along with their mission statement and goals. It’s an important exercise to do initially and to keep in mind in your daily work life. And isn’t it crazy that while you were going to determine your business values (or you already have), you haven’t even considered doing this exercise for your own personal life?

Identify what you personally value the most to 3 or 4 values and understand how your business idea is aligned with them. For example, if one of your most important values is family, are you starting a business as it will somehow strengthen your family relationships?

There are a number of online resources to help you determine your values, including life coach Dr. John Demartini’s online Value Determination Process. You can also speak to a psychologist to help guide you through your value identification exercise. While you may think you know exactly what your values are, it’s hard to narrow them down to a few, and it takes a lot more time and consideration than you might initially think.

Keep in mind, however, that values change over time depending on your personal circumstances. When your business develops into something you didn’t expect, it can represent a big change in your personal life. When these events occur, take the value test again and see how they may have changed.


Visualise the end game.

You may now have determined what’s important to you and why you’re starting a business. And you have a pretty good idea of what you want to get out of your business. Now, close your eyes and visualise it. Imagine the things you’re dreaming of and the values you’re trying to uphold with your business. Was it worth it?

Business ventures come with countless emotional rollercoasters and disappointment as well as happiness and a sense of accomplishment. Getting to the end game is going to be difficult and will require years of hard work. Now, was all of this worth it?

This exercise isn’t to ask if anything is worth doing or if you could have just been doing nothing and living a safe life instead. It’s not designed to discourage you from taking the next step and start something new and scary. Instead, it is asking if your personal goals and values are enough to prepare you for the difficulties that lie ahead. That is, if your personal goals are worth fighting for with all you have.


Be completely honest.

Communicating with yourself and trying to determine your values and goals can be an emotionally challenging and exhausting process. However, there is nothing that will be more of a time-waster than setting your personal and business goals based on dishonest and fake values. They won’t work as well to motivate you, either, as they won’t 100% resonate with you.

You might find that you’re more vain and materialistic than you thought. You might find that you don’t really care about family. There could be a number of things you find out about yourself that could be surprising or disappointing. But don’t let that stop you from being totally honest with yourself and trying to answer the questions from your heart. At the end of the day, these are your goals and values, and you don’t need to share them with anyone else.


Once you’ve determined your personal goals, try and compare them to the business goals and values. Are they aligned? Do they still make sense? Business becomes a part of your life and at times it will completely consume you and your personal life. Given that, wouldn’t it make sense to let it reflect your personal values and actually help you to take the steps forward to achieving them? Your business and personal goals don’t have to be the same or match, but the more aligned they are with each other, the more likely you can keep pushing yourself to achieve both goals.