I celebrate 10 years of writing articles for the community newspapers this year and it has been a privilege! I hope to push the envelope a little and continue to add value to aspiring and existing entrepreneurs alike. 2024 has just begun and with that, I choose to focus on the opportunities that beckon rather than the inevitable problems that can stifle and smother initiative, joy, and progress.

As author Simon Sinek says, “Dream big, start small, but most of all, start.”, and he goes on to quip, “The key to success is to start before you’re ready.”

To start this year well, I thought I would share seven key goal setting principles to focus on:

Play to your passion.

“There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” − late president Nelson Mandela

I am convinced that what our former president implied about living large is a key principle to starting well. I may not know what this year may bring, but I have a lot of influence about what I can bring to the year. Do you know your why? Have you got something deep inside that launches you out of bed each morning with joy and purpose? This sense of purpose is not for the chosen few, rather, I believe we can all discover our strengths, play relentlessly to these, and add value to others.

Prioritise new business.

We should treat our existing customers as the gold they are and seek to “onboard” them as our ambassadors as this could open word-of-mouth leads to new business that we can woo, win over and delight.

“A small business is an amazing way to serve and leave an impact on the world you live in.” − author Nicole Snow

In this new year, consider pressing refresh on your marketing and social media efforts and pay for passionate people to get your message across with focus and impact. Be prepared to try new things or new approaches.

Develop your attitude of gratitude.

It may sound like a cliché, but this is a well-used principle by top performers, entrepreneurs, and business owners.

As author Margaret Cousins says, “Appreciation can make a day − even change a life and your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”

I have found that by deliberately focusing on what I have and enjoy (least of all possessions) more business opportunities keep coming my way and perhaps it’s because grateful people are less likely to take things for granted that we see more opportunities. May this year be one where we exercise this attitude more.

Keep learning.

I am in my “refirement” years, and it is my intention to stay young by continually learning. As one example, my interest in developing stronger thinking has led me to enrol in a great course called, “The Neuroscience of getting unstuck.”, and it is my hope to use this with clients and beneficiaries to help them get “unstuck.” Do not let perceived limitations rob you of the gift of continuous learning in 2024.

Aim to improve each week by 4%.

Four percent of your week is 75 minutes, so, what about spending 75 minutes each Sunday evening planning how you may increase your engagement, learning, gratitude, exercise, etc (You get the picture)? When we measure what we do it can have a profound impact in terms of our effectiveness, so let us be wiser in our use of the commodity of time. May that commitment cause us to look back on the year 2024, grateful that we did not repeat the same, but pushed through with purpose.

Spend the currency of time on others.

We have more currency to spend, use and invest than rands only, and one of the areas we can be generous in is the area of investing time in others. The obvious ones are family, friends, and your community, but it is in the context of business that I want to encourage investing time into people within your team.

Zig Ziglar said, “You don’t build a business, you build people, then people build the business.”, so let 2024 be a year of building people.

Set an audacious goal.

Others refer to this as a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal), and yes, we should set goals in our lives, and yes, these should be so-called SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals (I like to add ER to Smart so that your goals are Exciting and Recorded).

Yet why not set a goal which scares you and gives you goose flesh when you think about it. Example? I am privileged to be part of a bold initiative by the National Business Initiative (NBI) where the big dream for the next 11 to 12 years includes seeing 30 000 graduates successfully move to employment and to help 4 200 start-up businesses incubated, and while these may just appear as numbers or statistics, the value to the individual is huge and my contribution to this BHAG keeps me excited.

May you clarify and create your own BHAG for 2024.