Question: How do you Measure Progress?

In a recent course on writing business plans, there was a discussion about the creation of milestones and objectives, and ways to measure them. What methods do you use to measure progress, and to set appropriate milestones for your business?

Goals for 2011

As I mentioned last week, goals need to be SMART: Sustainable, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. In a discussion with a business coach, though, a valid point was made regarding goals. Goals need to be measurable and timely in order to be considered goals. Not necessarily good goals, but they are, in fact goals.

However, when goals have actions attached to their outcome – that is, being able  to take an action to bring the goal to fruition, then they are practical goals. If the goals are not realistic, then there is no chance of them coming to be.

Finally, if a goal is not sustainable, then it is a foolish goal. For example, if a business has a goal of selling a particular number of units, and the product is faulty, maintaining that goal is foolish. It can do more long-term damage than the short-term benefits. Selling 1000 units which eventually get returned achieves nothing.

The reason I asked about having written them down or telling people is because there is a potential benefit to sharing that information. Writing down goals makes it less likely that the details are forgotten (perhaps conveniently). Sharing the goals with other people means that when you see those people, and have to explain why you have yet to achieve the goal, can be a motivating factor.

However, having spoken to several people who’ve made goals to lose weight or quit smoking, they’ve pointed out that if people know about your goal, they can nag you about it to no end. The nagging does not increase the likelihood of reaching the goal, and tends to be more frustrating to the goal-setter than anything else.

If you choose to share your goal, I suggest that you be careful about who you share the goal with, to ensure that it will be someone who will help you reach the goal, not hinder you.