How To Successfully Conquer Goal Setting For Your Retail Store

Female retailer planning and setting goals

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Effective goal setting is the key to driving sales and self-discipline. To set a meaningful goal, you should start with the why.

I used to handle all the franchise training for a coffee chain. I encouraged new franchisees to tell their employees the inciting incident that made them set a goal to own their own business.

One guy got up and told us he was at a Yankees vs. Red Sox ball game late one night. Roger Clemens would be pitching to break the record for 20 wins. But before that could happen, it began to pour, and the game was finally called due to rain.

The next morning, he slept in an hour, figuring he would take a later train into the city. While getting dressed, he turned on the TV to discover the World Trade Center was on fire and the first Tower was going down.

Fighting back tears, he said, “If I had gotten home earlier, I wouldn’t have slept in. I would have been in a train under the WTC when the Tower went down. Right then, I decided to move to Florida and open my own business. It’s taken me longer than I thought, and I’m so glad to see you all here to support me.”


There wasn’t a dry eye in the room after that powerful story. A story based on the truth that created a goal.

What is goal setting? It is the process of deciding what you want to accomplish and then devising a plan to achieve it.

It is like a mission statement – you can always return to it when you’re about to take on a risk or do something questionable. You can always refer to it to see if you’re on track.

The key to goal setting is understanding that you want to set a goal and why you want to do it.

The why is what helps you get leverage on yourself to change.  Leverage is seeing the results if you don’t follow through.

A good goal often involves some kind of risk. You may not make it; it’s not a sure thing, and while that’s reality, you still go for it.

You’ll need outside help or education to help you get there. Build it, and they will come, is not a strategy to achieve a goal.

If you knew everything you needed, you would have already done it.

James Collins and Jerry Porras's landmark book Built to Last said to thrive, you need a big hairy audacious goal or BHAG that changes the very nature of your business.

Sure, if you’re Google or Apple, this can be exciting. Those audacious goals are magnets for millennial employees to non-profits and technology companies.

I had a friend who went to work for Apple and with Steve Jobs worked on the famous Think Different marketing campaign. Pursuing a BHAG, their company achieved a remarkable turnaround, barely thinkable only a few years earlier.

But the fact is, most of us won’t set individual goals like that and end up like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, or Oprah Winfrey, but that doesn’t make goal setting any less valuable.


To truly change your business, you have to break out of fear. The past is often what keeps you in a fearful state and paralyzed.

By concentrating on a goal in the future, you have to let go of the past.  

Letting go of the past means giving something up to get to your new future.

And the future is one of the most powerful motivating forces there is. Your team needs you to lead by example based on core values.

How do you decide on a goal?

Goal Setting Tips

Always begin with the why before the what.  

Why do you want to change?

Do you just want to hold onto your family business?

Do you want to open more locations?

Do you need to update your business because your customer base has shifted?

This usually takes a bit of quiet time with yourself, so don't try to do this in five minutes; you need to know and understand what's going on inside.

Regrets can come up in the early part of brainstorming. You have to give up the hope that your past could have been any different, so don’t dwell on it.

Also, remember to state your goals in the positive, I want or I will over I don't want.

Next, decide what your #1 highest priority is, a very specific goal. You can't set five goals and expect to achieve them; that splinters your focus.

That said, the truth is that most of us have low expectations and not really challenging goals, so push yourself here.

How will you know you achieved this goal? Can it be measured in some way? What are the metrics?

Give yourself a deadline, that fixed point when you expect to be finished.

Next, write your goal down, so you make it real. Put a slip of paper in your wallet, post it on your computer monitor, and keep it front and center.

Once you have that one goal, you need to lay out a plan, then allocate time and resources to achieve it.

Be careful not to confuse tasks with goals. A task is something you do to achieve the goal, but not the goal.

A good goal means bringing people into your life to provide inspiration, education, and support.

Next, tell your management team as well as your good friends what you are intending to do. Let them know at the outset there is no guarantee, and you’ll need them to help you through the highs and lows so you stay focused on your goal.

Finally, there’s no shame in pursuing a goal. Realize that the original goal may change as you get educated, look for inspiration, and work on your plan. That's what makes for good retail management.

That Florida franchisee did very well accomplishing goal after goal until he finally sold that business and went on to a whole new objective.

That’s OK for you too. If your goals change, just start from the top of this process to create a new objective that aligns with your new self.

See also, Retail Management Tips: 15 Ways to Increase Profit Margins

In Sum

Think of setting a goal like Luke’s journey in the movie Star Wars. Our hero has a specific goal – to bring peace to the galaxy. Luke has to enlist the help of others.

He also has to get training on The Force and the lightsaber, tools he’ll need on his journey. He also needs others to help him when his confidence wanes, and the risk is high.

Think of the scene where Luke is just about to send the missile into the Death Star as all the other spaceships are breaking apart around him.

Luke fears for his own life. What is the message in his headset from one of the other pilots? “Stay on target.”

That’s really the point of goal setting – to create a target, to become educated on what it takes to succeed, and go for it.

Goal setting isn’t only an occasional thing you have to do. It should be a way of life to keep your business alive.

Use this goal-setting process to enjoy a new direction for yourself, your business, and your future.

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