Many of us fall into business because of passion, circumstance or perhaps an exciting idea, forgetting about the 1)endgame. However, goal-setting—making 2)tangible, definable goals—is critical in getting you to where you want to go.
I want to tell you a bit about my mother, Sheri, and her adventures in 3)entrepreneurship. She can create an elegant evening 4)brooch out of a brown paper grocery bag and 5)freehand pancakes in the shape of elephants. She would often do just that while wearing four-inch 6)stiletto heels and purple 7)contact lenses. Being talented and creative, once upon a time, that creativity led her towards entrepreneurship.
In the early 1980s, my mom was putting together some really unique holiday gift baskets that looked like loaded 8)reindeer. One of our neighbors came over and asked my mom if she would make a few gift baskets for her to give as gifts for the holidays. My mom agreed and news of the unique gift baskets my mom was making 9)spread like wildfire throughout the neighborhood and keeping my mom busy throughout the holiday season. She 10)enlisted a friend to help her. When the orders continued after the holiday season for baby gifts, get-well gifts, birthday gifts and more, it occurred to them that maybe this job could be turned into a business. Nearly 30 years ago, this concept didn’t exist, and my mom and her partner really were pioneers in the 11)niche. They started the business in our basement, which usually looked like a 12)tornado had hit 13)Party City. 14)Inventory, 15)cellophane, ribbons and balloons were everywhere. The business quickly took off—they were working full time, taking orders, assembling and wrapping the gifts, packing, finding new business, purchasing inventory, 16)invoicing, chasing down payments and creating marketing materials. Eventually, the operation 17)outgrew the basement and they bought a warehouse and continued to work hard.
By 1991, nearly a decade after they had started the business, their circumstances changed. My mom’s partner got in to financial trouble and they realized: this was a job, not a business, and one that wasn’t even 18)pulling in the minimum wage. This was not enough money to sustain either my mom or her partner when their circumstances changed.
My mom went into her business because she had a creative idea. Even though she got some proof of concept, there was no goal, no purpose and no real strategy. She got orders, she filled orders, she had increasing interest in her product, but ultimately, she never made enough for it to be worth her time or effort—a fact lost on her for a decade until her circumstances shifted.
If you are led by your creativity or passion, make sure to ask yourself what you want out of your business. If you don’t set goals, how will you know what direction to go in? Do you want to build something? Do you want to help even more people? Do you want to create jobs and growth in the economy? Do you want recognition as a 19)savvy businessperson? Are you looking for a hobby? It is totally up to you and there is no right answer except to make the conscious decision. You can’t keep scores if you don’t know what game you are playing.
After my mom’s circumstances changed, she had to abandon her business to support herself (as did her partner). She swore she would revisit running a business and do it differently the next time. However, there wasn’t time for a “next time” for her. Just a few years after leaving the business behind, my mom was diagnosed with 20)Leukemia. She passed away just after her 51st birthday. She was creative, she was bright and she had an entrepreneurial spirit, but she never had someone tell her how important having a goal was to get where she wanted to go. She never had an opportunity to hear that message and she also never had an opportunity to be everything that she could be.
There are no right or wrong goals, only the ones that matter to you. Set them so that you can make progress and achieve success, whatever that may mean to you.