It's generally accepted that Jim Collins coined the phrase "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" or, as it's touted in meetings all around the world today, the "BHAG." 

Entrepreneurs love these because the goal is usually easy to state and, most of the time, is short on direction.

"Do $5 million in sales" might be the BHAG in question, but, once stated, a lot of small business owners won't take the time to flesh out the roadmap to that goal.  It sits there, on a piece of paper, quietly making its way to the bottom of the pile. 

For most owners, the BHAG and any related strategies and goals might start off cohesive and, as the ditch gets deeper, ideas and reality tend to separate.  Everybody likes glittering generalities, but most owners lack the patience for fine detail.

You guessed it - forty years of working with small businesses has shown me how creating a series of cohesive goals can be two things - a powerful way to focus your business' energy or a complete waste of time.  For starters, building any business has to start with four key parts - the Dream, Vision, Purpose, and Mission and within those lie every goal your company will ever need to meet - the big ones, the small ones, and every one in between.  Design your business from the ground up with the goals you want to achieve!  Some, of course, may be understated, others, like a video game your kids play, have to have certain stages attained before they can be accomplished, but the seeds for your company's goals all lie in the structure that you build long before the doors ever opened. 

At the same times, a company's ability to achieve a goal is based on the habits you embrace - can you meet deadlines?  Are the ethical standards of the company top-tier?  Is customer service the best in the industry?

All these reap rewards and allow you, as the entrepreneur, to leverage those habits into the goals you've set from day one.  While you absolutely need goals in your business - they were why you opened the doors in the first place - there are other, smaller pieces of the puzzle that you need to always seek to do and, as you gain experience, establish as a part of the overall system of the job and the business.

·         Understand what needs to be done.  Every day, there is something that requires your attention - not to run the business, but to refine the business.  Perhaps it is a specific marketing initiative that will take time to launch, perhaps it's simply hiring the bookkeeper.  Either way, working on the business is at least as important as working in the business (As I've said for many years).  Make it a habit to do it everyday AND to always know what the end goals are.

·         Know there are only three answers to any question.  Yes, No and Maybe are all the answers you can get out of most questions and questions are really just another way of stating the challenges that your company will face.  If you find yourself worrying about the course your company is taking, understand what each scenario means and craft a strategy to handle them.  Even better?  Having a plan can give you the confidence to keep moving forward and focus on "real" challenges - growing the enterprise.

·         Don't be afraid to reach out.  No matter how successful you are, you still need to have mentorship.  Professional athletes still have coaches, why is it odd or strange to think that you don't need a mentor or a coach to help guide you through tough decisions and challenges?  You're reading this article for a reason - to learn new ideas and ways to grow your company.  Acknowledge that there are people who can help to guide you through the pitfalls of building your business and seek their advice.

These could all be seen as goals, but the smarter way to look at any goal is to make sure that the basis for creating a goal is designed into the business itself.  If you want to change the world of painless dentistry, so be it - but open your practice with that goal in mind:  how you will do it, one office at a time and how you will use your first office as the prototype for all the offices to come. 

Yes, it IS a BHAG, but the seeds to the success of that goal lie in the every process and action you take from day one.