Goal setting is as much an art as a science. Whether in the realm of spiritual, mental, or physical, our goals should be challenging yet achievable.
If we are setting goals in an area where we have a lot of experience, meeting these two criteria is not too difficult. For example, I have been a runner for most of my life. I know my limits on speed and distance. So I can readily set physical fitness goals that stretch my ability but not to the point where I have little or no chance of meeting them.
More difficult is setting goals in a field in which we are inexperienced. I would be hard pressed to set reasonable goals as a painter since I know very little about either its artistic or business sides. For some goals it is not necessary to benchmark them. I have a goal to travel to all 50 states. The only criterion I used to set it is the belief that the only way to really know our country is to visit every state.
For other goals, having points of reference or a basis of measurement is more important. Fortunately the Internet provides us with a medium through which we can fairly quickly gather information we need to make adequate goals that can be refined as we gain experience.
Since our topic is entrepreneurship many of us will want to set a goal for our income. If you have been in the military for most or all of your working life, it may be difficult to set a realistic goal in civilian life. Is an income of $500,000 a year after five years in business realistic? Let’s look at some statistics from the IRS (all data is from 2009, the most recent year it was compiled):
Total individual tax returns filed: 140,494,127
Top 25% of earners (35,123,531 taxpayers) made at least: $66,193
Top 10% of earners (14,049,412 taxpayers) made at least: $112,124
Top 5% of earners (7,024,706 taxpayers) made at least: $154,643
Top 1% of earners (1,404,941 taxpayers) made at least: $343,927
Put another way, to get an A in income earning we have to make $112,124 in adjusted gross income.
Do these facts put into perspective earning a $500,000 annual income? Only 0.35% of taxpayers do so, which is not to say that you should not make it your goal, but to understand how difficult it will be to achieve it.
There are metrics for just about any goal we want to make. The key is to find them and figure out our capacity to meet or beat the standard they appear to set.
While we are on the subject of IRS statistics, recently I read on article titled “How the Rich Got Rich.” Author Jeff Haden’s concludes the way to get wealthy is to own a business. I could not agree more.