Episode 9: Converting Dreams To Goals

There is profound truth in the saying, “If you don’t have a dream, how are you going to have a dream come true?”

But it sometimes needs to be changed to this: “If you don’t have a goal, how are you going to achieve it?”

The difference is profound.  A dream is something that floats in the air of fantasy and always in the future, a bit out of reach.  A goal can be seen, can be measured, and progress toward it can be charted. And when you reach a goal, there is the chance to celebrate that you have accomplished something important.

Equally important, having clear—and preferably big and audacious—goals is the only way one can measure achievement.  Think about the first manned space flight to the moon.  That was a Big Audacious Goal, particularly when you recall that the US started that program before we had ever even flown in space and the whole mission was accomplished using computers that were not as powerful as the smart phone in your pocket.  

The other remarkable thing about that achievement (and it is true of every successful entrepreneurial venture I know) is that most of the time that moon rocket was off course. Minute course corrections and adjustments were constantly being made.

But, those corrections would have been impossible without a very clear goal.  Unfortunately, the goals in our entrepreneurial dreams are not always that clear. But they need to be.  Otherwise, you never know if you are off course or not.  

One of the drills that every entrepreneur should do—and few actually do—is to spend a ridiculous amount of time developing a very short and simple description of what the goal of the business he or she is creating should be.  

I’m not talking about those lofty and vague “Mission Statements” that the textbooks on entrepreneurship often tell you to write.  If you can’t describe in one or two sentences what your business is designed to do, you probably haven’t given it enough thought.  Think about the statement, “The Ultimate Driving Machine”.  No one with any exposure to TV or radio advertising will fail to recognize that as the tag line for a BMW auto product.  But is also one of the finest descriptions of a business goal I have ever heard.  A million things have to come together actually to build that automobile, but asking, “Will this help create the Ultimate Driving Machine?” can be the test of every decision that is made.  Is what we are about to do getting closer or farther away from that goal?” That kind of clarity has real power.

I’m not arguing that BMW has achieved their goal, but could anyone in that company possible not know what the goal is?  If you can articulate what your business is designed to achieve that clearly—even if it takes a few more words—you will be well on the way to achieving that goal.

It all starts with clear goals.  Without them, you will never know if you have succeeded or failed.