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How to Set Business Goals for the New Year

Now that the new year is officially underway, the parties are over and the in-laws have (mercifully) gone home, it’s time to return your focus to your business. Your company may be doing well enough, but it can do so much better. Or perhaps it’s been struggling along for months and you’ve wondered whether you’ll survive one more year.

Most businesses fail because of a few basic reasons.

Why Businesses Fail

For some, it’s poor management of cash flow. If you run out of working capital, you may have to tap into your personal savings and that’s never a good idea.

For some, it’s a lack of adequate marketing. If customers don’t know you exist, how do you expect them to find you?

For some, it’s a lack of focus. These businesses don’t have clear cut goals. They don’t have direction. If you don’t have direction, odds of failure increase. Dramatically.

In fact, according to the University of Scranton, 92% of people who set New Year’s resolutions fail to achieve them. Why? Take a guess. How many of those people write them down or even have clear, concise goals?

You can certainly make an argument that a business failing to have clearly written and detailed goals is setting itself up for failure.

This year, it’s time for a change.

That’s right. Now, at this moment, you could potentially change the future of your business by simply sitting down and setting concrete, measurable goals.

Now, as for how to do this, let’s take a peak behind the curtain of what more successful, larger companies have done through the years to reach the pinnacle of their success.

First, don’t assume any goal is ‘unrealistic’ or ‘unachievable’

I hate to break it to you, but unless you’ve already been working towards specific goals in the past, how could you possibly know what’s feasible? You don’t. You can’t. While you certainly need to be realistic with your business goals, don’t discard some just because they may seem unreasonable or out of reach at the moment.

Second, you need to write down all your business goals

It’s strange when you meet with a few business owners who claim to have some clearly defined goals and then ask to see them. They look at you cross and wonder what you’re talking about.

“Why do you want to see my goals?” They might say first. “I’ve got them right here,” they add while tapping their noggin’.

Oh, so you don’t really have goals.

They will argue against that, but here’s a simple fact: if you don’t write down your goals, they become nothing more than ideas. Ideas about what you’d like to accomplish or see for your business, and even though you might have an incredible memory, written goals are more distinct from simple notions in your head.

Third, make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

They should be

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time Bound

Be specific about the goals you set forth for your business. Loose or undefined goals that don’t have any clear dates established are not specific. For example, if you set a goal to ‘increase revenue before the next ‘hot’ season,’ what does that mean? Instead, try something like: by the start of the next holiday season, November 1, we will boost gross revenue by 25 percent.

Now you have a specific and measurable goal. Nice job!

Fourth, break your goals down

Some consultants call this ‘chunking’ your goals. You’ll want to look at your goals and begin breaking them into smaller chunks, or increments. For example, if you have a two year goal of doubling revenue and adding 5 new employees, it’s tough to determine if you’re getting there month by month.

Break that down into one year increments first. Then, to monthly measurable goals. Then weekly. If you can break your goals down daily, then do it.

Remember, you can adjust your goals as needed

It is perfectly fine and normal to make adjustments as needed. However, don’t let this become an excuse to stray or get lazy or put off some of the work needed to achieve your goals, otherwise you’re just making things tougher on you and your business in the long run.

Finally, visualize success

Imagine what it will look and feel like. Can you believe that only 10 percent of people actually write down their goals? Only 10 percent are setting themselves up for success. On top of that, only 5 percent actually read their goals every day (Biz Journals).

The ones who do are the ones who tend to visual them, to see them in their mind, and keep focused on them. When you visualize success, you’re far more likely to get there. There’s no guarantee, of course, but these steps will enhance your chances of getting to the finish line and helping your company grow.

This Is Your Year

Up to this point you may very well have been like the 90+ percent of small business owners without written goals. You may have relied on basic ideas for what you wanted to happen, but never got around to putting them to paper.

Now is your chance to change that. It takes some time to get it right. Practice, if you will.

Keep in mind that when you start writing goals down, you may be a bit ambitious and you’ll miss deadlines. Those daily breakdowns will start to back up because of limited time or opportunities.

Don’t give up.

It could be that you weren’t assessing your time constraints properly or haven’t yet delegated the right responsibilities to your employees. It’s a process and when you begin falling behind (and you will, especially at first), reconfigure, reanalyze, and reset.

The New Year is a wonderful opportunity for businesses to establish new goals that will keep everyone focused on the same things. When you practice with small goals, it will certainly make it easier to tackle those larger goals coming down the pipe.

Happy New Year!

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