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How to set ambitious yet realistic financial goals

Goals keep your business moving forward. They’re an important part of your business plan and prevent your business from stagnating, or being left behind in your marketplace. 

Without goals, both long and short-term, your leaders are likely to struggle to understand where your business is going, or where you want to be long-term, and your business could flounder, as we discuss in our why businesses fail article.

There are many articles online with suggestions of goals your business could have and, while these can be useful pointers, your business is unique and therefore using our tips below to set your own custom goals should have a stronger impact on your business.

Where to start…

Think big

As in literally everything you want to achieve for your business. Brainstorm your biggest aims for your business, regardless of how achievable they immediately seem. 

Organise them into categories, such as internal processes, financial or customer acquisition etc to help you tackle one area at a time. While goals don’t need to be financial, take into account that they may ultimately lead to a financial impact, such as an employee incentive programme which helps you retain talent and reduce hiring costs. Take time to really understand each one you list.

Once you’ve created your list, delve deeper into each one, breaking it down into the steps you would need to take in order to make it happen. It doesn’t matter whether there are two steps to get there or 200; you need to understand your journey before you can set realistic goals.

Look internally

Next, take a good look at your business. What’s working well, what isn’t, is there something that keeps cropping up? 

Could your cash flow process be improved, in order to save money? Does your brand need work, so that consumers recognise you? Maybe you’re ready to hire your next team or launch a new product. 

Involving any existing employees in this internal review will not only help you avoid missing anything but also helps secure their buy-in, which is essential in order to achieve your goals once set. Conducting an up-to-date SWOT analysis is a good structured way to start. 

Once finished, inject your findings into your original list. Some may support points already on there, whereas others may be completely new.

Create a timeline

By now you have a detailed list of your aims for your business. Now map out where and when you realistically would like to achieve them. Stay focussed on the here and now but balance by keeping the bigger picture in your mind. While world domination is a wonderful idea, realistically you’re not going to pull that off in a week, no matter your product. 

Review your timelines once complete – do they work cohesively together? Your plan should avoid confusing your employees or customers, or even yourself! 

Next consider the things that could prevent you from achieving your goals. Explore ways to turn them around, or alternative avenues; adapt your plan if you need to.

Finalise your goals

You’re now in a really strong position to begin setting your goals.

As with many things, adopting a SMART approach, to ensure your goals are Specific, Measured, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, is a strong approach to take.

Filter out from your list any goals that you have not yet mastered how you will get there. Keeping an unattainable goal, despite how desperately you’d like it, will do nothing for the success of your business or your mental health. 

Using what you have left, separate your list into short and long-term goals and add any additional information that might be needed in order to fully understand them. 

Plan in regular reviews of your goals, similarly to how to review your objectives and marketing activity, amending as you need to. 


Being part of an incubator programme, such as our own, will help you every step of the way with this process, as well as give you access to established business people in the region who advise you on your journey. You can apply for our next cohort here. In the meantime, grow your knowledge through our varied library of blogs, or contact us with any questions.

The next application deadline is Friday 6th May 2022

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