The dangers of running a startup without goals

By Henry Brown

When you’re in the process of starting up your own business or are in those crazy, wonderful early years of entrepreneurship, you most likely don’t have much time to think of the long term. After all, there’s so much to do. Your every waking moment is spent on maintaining a healthy cash flow, buttering up potential business lenders and investors and dashing around ensuring that the operations of your business are going smoothly. Nonetheless, as busy as you are, you owe it to yourself, your business and your employees to establish specific long and short term goals.

From your initial startup board meeting to having a fully functioning office, setting long and short-term goals can help keep you focused on what needs to be done for your business to be successful. A great way of accomplishing these targets is by adhering to the SMART goal-setting framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely). This framework helps define specific objectives which are measurable, achievable, pertinent to the success of your venture as well as timely in terms of when they should be achieved.

You may not feel that this is worth the time or effort, especially when it’s all you can do to keep your head above water, but if you fail to set realistic, specific goals keeping your head above water is all you’ll ever do. Failing to set goals can impede your business’ growth in numerous ways that you may not expect…

Strategy is often an unfortunately overlooked aspect of business amongst nascent entrepreneurs. Running your own business is a steep learning curve, and it may take some time for you to be able to attend to the many and varied duties of an entrepreneur before heading home and crashing, exhausted, into bed. Nonetheless, you must take some time out from your daily operations to plan your business’ strategy. And knowing your goals is integral to your strategy.

Without clear and specific goals you can spend money in the wrong areas and you will likely be unable to administer effective leadership to your team. If, for example, you intend to nurture your business through to retirement, you will likely focus your strategy on consistently turning a profit month after month while slowly laying the foundations for sustainable growth over a period of years. If, however, you’re itching to get to the point where you can carry out an accurate business valuation and sell up within the matter of a few years, your strategy will be markedly different. You’ll want to focus on creating growth as quickly as possible to broaden your appeal and increase your chances of a quick sell.

You may let success pass you by

Your goals will provide a metric for success. This will enable you to chart your progression towards your personal notion of success or make strategic changes if you’re not making sufficient progress. How you define success is completely up to you, but if you don’t clearly define your parameters for success, how can you know it when you see it? Without goal setting you could let success pass you by without even realizing.

[amazon_link asins=’0956454534′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingin-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e4a170e9-1645-11e8-a28b-b540ae97b62d’]Your branding will suffer

Your brand is extremely important as it sets you apart from the profuse competition of the digital age. Without clear goals, your brand will be weak and directionless. You won’t know your target market or what you want from them. Thus, you’ll waste a lot of time, effort and resources trying to be all things to all people…and this is rarely conducive to long-term success.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.


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