Setting Business Goals: 3 Questions To Ask Yourself

We’ve talked a lot about how to take the steps necessary to switch careers and/or start your own business, but it occurs to me that some of you may not have the clearest idea of exactly what type of business you’d like to start, or what product, skill, or expertise you’re interested in selling.

This is completely normal. Our imaginations seize on a vague idea or activity and, all of a sudden, our brains are running at breakneck speed, eager to follow a dream that is hazier than we realize. It’s no wonder that starting a business can feel so confusing and overwhelming.

After the jump, I outline the 3 questions you should ask yourself when attempting to solidify a distinct career path.

  1. Why are you interested in what you’re interested in? When I (very recently) decided that I was interested in career counseling/coaching, I leaped right into the research end of the pool, quickly becoming completely confused about what type of training I should pursue and how it would eventually fit into my life. Then, during an informational interview with a career counselor, I was forced to vocalize — on the spot — why, exactly, I was interested in career counseling. I’ve since been able to bring into focus the reasons for my interest. Once you, too, have a clearer idea of what has drawn you to a specific industry, you’ll be able to set about drawing up a more detailed action plan.
  2. But that’s not all! What type of lifestyle would you eventually like to lead, and what type of career would help you achieve this? If you don’t like long hours, you probably shouldn’t work down on Wall Street. If you’re considering a career in the publishing industry, I hope you’re not yearning to move to the middle of nowhere. It makes things a helluva lot more difficult. Take stock of what you do and don’t want in a job. Which ones are deal-breakers? Now, look carefully at the industry path you’ve been researching. How can you make your lifestyle and career goals mesh? There may be tracks within a certain industry that you didn’t know about and/or never considered that could bring you closer to the ideal work/life balance.
  3. What would you like to accomplish? This list is separate from the one where you write down that you’d like to go hang gliding before you die, or meet Colin Firth. Rather, write down all of the things you’d like to accomplish in a professional capacity. And dream big. This is a long-term list. It may seem obvious, but I’m gonna say it anyway: Actually getting down on paper the things you’d like to do is key to figuring out how in heck you’re gonna get there.

Is an actual business plan coming into focus? Have you been able to pinpoint the path that will satisfy your interests, provide you with an ideal lifestyle, and allow you to reach all of your goals? If not, having these lists on hand will at the very least aid you in your search, making it easier to discard professions that don’t fit in with what you truly want. This is the fun part, folks. The part where there is nothing but possibility. If you succeed in this step, the fun won’t stop.

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