Guest Columnist

Be specific when setting small business goals

Guest columnistFebruary 4, 2013 

Maybe you made a resolution to improve your small business and you felt good about it.

After all, research suggests that when you set a goal, you direct attention and action toward activities that help you achieve it.

But now it’s early February, and you’re not feeling successful. You’re overwhelmed and maybe frustrated.

Ease up and ask: How can I break my goal into bite-size pieces, said Paige Armstrong of Life Enrichment Resources ( in Raleigh. She’s a clinical social worker who specializes in money coaching and overcoming obstacles that keep people’s best intentions out of reach.

“A lot of people are good at coming up with goals, but the accountability part is where they fall short,” Armstrong says.

Armstrong urges counseling clients to get specific and come up with smarter goals, a technique based on Money Habitudes, a financial personality tool created by Syble Solomon. Here are a few examples of how it works:

• Set a goal: Make a profit.

Set a smart goal: Make $100,000 in net profit in 2013.

Set a smarter goal: To have $10,000 in net profit each month for the next 10 months so you reach your goal in November.

• Goal: Do more networking.

Smart goal: Visit one networking group a week for two months.

Smarter goal: Visit one networking group a week until you find one to join and then work your new contacts to add three new clients a month for the next 12 months.

• Goal: Attend a conference.

Smart goal: Save $1,200 to pay for travel and hotel at a trade conference that offers small business seminars.

Smarter goal: Save $20 a week by making coffee at home to save $1,200 in the next 15 months to have $700 for travel, lodging and entrance fees and $500 for food and other costs at a trade conference where a top marketing expert will teach a seminar.

If the word “goal” seems too lofty, “then just think what your intentions are and put that into the universe so that people can respond to the energy,” Armstrong said.

Once you start on a goal, keep track.

“If you keep the goal visible and you keep up with your successes, you will be able to see: I accomplished this and this and this and this,” Armstrong said.

“That builds up on that confidence piece and that commitment piece that are essential to meeting your goals.”

At worst, you’ll celebrate noble failure, career coach Robert M. Sheehan Jr. wrote in January in a Washington Post article headlined “Set goals, not resolutions.”

“If you are inspired to pursue a goal and you go for it, but you don’t make it all the way, then appreciate the progress you have made and appreciate that you worked hard at something you really cared about,” Sheehan wrote.

Sheon Wilson is a personal stylist, writer and creator of The N&O’s Refresh Your Style. Reach her at or on Twitter @SheonWilson.

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