Successfully Aligning Personal and Business Goals



Business owners often start or buy a company because of a passion for the work, and they want control and freedom. However, it’s typical for the owner to be so closely tied to the business that personal goals take a back seat to running the business. So what to do? How to structure the business to reach business and personal goals? When personal and business goals align, it’s a win-win.  

Consider lifestyle
Lifestyle goals and desires connect to the inspiration for starting or owning a business. Make a list of the lifestyle or personal factors that are most important, and quantify the amount needed to achieve the goal. The goal may be to spend more time with family, travel, play more golf, or set up a foundation for charitable purposes. Every individual is different. It’s important to write down goals – both personal and professional. The key here is that the business is the vehicle for reaching those personal goals.

Everyone knows that writing down a goal is the best way to make it happen. But many people don’t take time to make a concrete list. When a goal is stated in writing and a person makes an accountability plan, the results have a much better opportunity for success. The Dominican University of California conducted a research study with 267 participants and found the following percentage of people who succeeded in accomplishing a goal they had set:

  • 43% -- People who only thought about their goals
  • 64% -- People who wrote down their goals, established action items, and shared with another person
  • 76% -- People who wrote down the goal, established action items, shared with another person and provided weekly progress to another person

Look for opportunities
Spend some time to define how the business currently fits or doesn’t fit with personal objectives. It may take an outside opinion from someone who is not as close to the business to help sort the current situation and develop a personal/business alignment going forward. To get started, here are examples of ways to integrate personal and business objectives:

1 . Make decisions that align with personal and business goals. Since the company and owner are closely tied together, business owners often make business decisions for personal reasons. It’s important to understand the true rationale. For example, will sponsoring a golf tournament meet the marketing objectives of the company, or is the decision to sponsor based on a personal desire to play the event? Neither answer is right or wrong – that’s the benefit of owning the business. But having direction and goals presents a new perspective for each decision.

2. Determine ownership strategy. It’s very important for business owners to determine how they will be involved. Too often business owners wear too many hats and end up with a work-life imbalance. One of our current clients came up with a brilliant plan before deciding which business to buy. This client decided he wanted a business that he could not work in, thus eliminating the “opportunity” for him to cover when employees called in sick or ended up short staffed (due to licensing requirements). Examples of these businesses include hair salons, HVAC or plumbing, massage, and chiropractic. This forced our client to hire good managers and team members since he couldn’t pitch in to help. It also allowed him to grow substantially beyond his personal capacity.

3. Create a culture of celebration. The best companies are never ‘all work and no play.’ Take advantage of opportunities to appropriately celebrate achievements. Celebrating both large and small victories keeps employees motivated and honors the teamwork it takes to be successful.

4. Schedule personal time. For busy professionals, the end of the week comes quickly and suddenly nothing is on the calendar. While it’s good to have downtime, it’s also important to expand life beyond work. Practice making personal plans for enjoyable activities.

5. Plan for next steps. It’s never too early to create a succession plan. Businesses are stronger when there’s a plan for current and future management roles. And making a plan for being out of the business points to what needs to happen to have a smooth transition.

It’s not easy to make changes, but the end result is worth it when personal and business goals are in balance.