“More than 80 percent of the 300 small business owners surveyed in the recent 4th Annual Staples National Small Business Survey said that they don’t keep track of their business goals, and 77 percent have yet to achieve their vision for their company.” –Peter Vanden Bos
As we bring in the New Year it is important to take a step back, look at the big picture, and assess the direction your business is taking. Take a moment to celebrate your previous year’s accomplishments, both big and small. Often times we get trapped with tunnel vision and overlook just the amount of success we’ve attained. Whether it was starting your first social media campaign, launching a new product, hiring an employee, earning your first order, or taking active steps towards beginning your new business or venture. Doubt ends more careers than failure ever does.
Once you have taken the time to appreciate your accomplishments, take another moment and ask yourself, is there anything I could’ve done better?
Assessing your current state is a great way to begin planning for the future. As such, I often advise business managers and fellow owners to set realistic, measurable business goals. This article will cover some tips and best practices for setting an effective business goal you can incorporate immediately.
What are Business Goals and Why Are They Important?
Business goals are targets and achievements a business owner/manager seeks to attain. An effective business goal will have tangible and measurable characteristics, such as increasing my customer base to 200 clients, or reaching $2,000 in sales.
An ineffective or ‘bad’ business goal sounds like this: “provide the best XYZ to my customers.”
Consider this instead: “Attain a 98% satisfactory rating from customer reviews.”
Setting business goals is important because it provides stakeholders (employees, managers, owners and customers) a clear objective to work towards. When an entire company works towards a common goal the chances of accomplishing said goals increase exponentially.
“After studying successful people for over three decades, high performance expert Brian Tracy concluded that the most important element of achievement is Clarity. Where do you want to be in 12 months? In 6 months? In the next 90 days?
Write it down and read it every day – it will triple your chances of making it a reality. You don’t have to be a genius to achieve big things in business. You usually just have to be very clear about your aims, then work hard and intelligently to reach them.”
Establishing a business goal will help you make phase lines/checkpoints to help you stay on track. For example, if you want to increase sales by 20% you may need to increase sales by a 20 per month. Understanding the cumulative small steps that it takes to increase sales (higher prospecting numbers, lower closing ratio, targeted prospecting) will help you identify exactly where you need adjust your fire to hit your targeted goals.
Tips to Establish Effective Business Goals
1. Break it Down into Small Steps
Breaking your measurable business goals into small measurable steps enables
the business owner to tackle the goals in a systemic manner. Tackling small battles, one at a time, add up to overcome the bigger challenge as a whole. If your goal is to increase annual sales by 20%, you may choose to increase sales by a predetermined number each month. Break the month down into 4 weeks, and adjust your prospecting activities, marketing and sales ratio accordingly.
2. Track your progress
A plan is only as good as the analysis performed to ensure the objectives are being reached. Make it a habit, or better yet, a scheduled task, to review and evaluate your measurable objectives weekly, monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually.
When I started my woodworking company I specifically monitored and tracked my month-to-moth sales. As the second year reached near I compared my monthly sales to the previous month, as well as the same month the previous year. I then assessed any potential shortcomings established a plan to overcome them.
3. Establish a process/procedure
In order to duplicate a successful plan, and to change directions when a plan is failing, we need to understand exactly WHAT is working and what is not. Establishing procedures that enable consistency and duplicatable actions (think of checklists, how-to guides, policies) will allow the business owner to invest less time on accomplishing said process.
4. Find a support system
While being your own boss and business owner is an exhilarating experience, it can be a very lonely and demanding one. Often times entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed when tackling the day to day, as well as strategic vision for their business. The good news is, even when you feel you’re alone, you’re not alone. One way to bolster your confidence and increase your effectiveness is to find a support system. Some of my favorites are listed below:
: Join groups relating to your field, industry or similar practices where you can learn industry leading practices. I have joined both national and local groups and have found relevant and meaningful content I can incorporate immediately.
: Professional organizations often offer tools, resources, classes and networking opportunities that can benefit your business. Some examples of professional organizations I belong to include the National Property Management Association
. Joining associations allow you the opportunity to brainstorm with other professionals in the field, and come up with industry leading practices you can incorporate.
: Just like professional organizations, local meetup groups vary by industry, location and goals. I have found groups that offer great resources and networking opportunities for you to grow your business. A group’s meeting times and locations all depend on the specific group you join, and often times you can join as a guest to ensure the group is a good fit.
5. Be flexible/Evaluate your direction
Not all plans go, well, according to plan. The journey your business will take, just like many roadmaps, is full of twists and turns. I recommend business owners build business plans that are ambitious, yet allow for flexibility to change course. As you evaluate the company’s efforts and results you may decide to change directions, eliminate or supplement product offerings. Continuously monitoring your progress will allow you the flexibility to switch gears and make changes before you spend too much time/money going in the wrong location.
6. Celebrate successes
Don’t get tunnel visioned! Take the time to celebrate your successes. Whether privately, semi-public with family and friends, or publicly, let your followers and
stakeholders join in on the celebration. People like supporting successful businesses, and taking your customers along with the growth and journey can promote brand loyalty and customer retention.
Incorporating these simple steps, one at a time, will help you achieve a success by providing you a blueprint and map you can continue to duplicate and fine-tune to fit your organization. Whether you’re a one-person business, or part a corporation, business planning is a strategic concept made up by tactical actions YOU can monitor and affect. Investing time to establish your business’ goals will help ensure you achieve said goals.
Please drop a note using the comment box below, and/or hit me up on any of the social media links listed!
Lastly, if you have a question you’d like to ask, hit me up on Twitter, handle is @AJRos02 and use the hashtag #AskAJ. I’ll reply back and/or write an article answering your questions.