Setting Your Business Goals: Preparing for the New Year
Just like New Year’s resolutions, setting goals for your business should be incorporated into your year end business planning. It not only provides a road map but also as a measurement for your business’ growth. As a business owner, you know that business planning and goal setting is an ongoing process. It is an essential tool in achieving success no matter what industry you are in.
Running a business is much like playing chess, you must plan several moves ahead and prepare for any eventuality to win. Setting your business goals as part of your year end process is no different. To stay ahead of the game, you plan your moves in advance.
A word of advice: when in the process of setting business goals, focus on where you want your business to be a year from now. It is easy to fall into the trap of looking at what others in your industry are doing but remember to go at your own pace to achieve the success you want your business to have.
Here are some helpful suggestions to start your goal setting process:
It may take a couple of days, or it may take more time than that. When developing your business goals, planning is the key. Block off the time you need to complete this task. Don’t schedule meetings or allow for any disruptions. Hand off some of your responsibilities to your leadership team so you can plot the direction you want your business to go for the next year. For small business owners, consider taking time off from your work routine to handle this.
Make plans to schedule this before the holidays kick into high gear. You do not want to be caught in the middle of having to handle the holidays and planning for the next year.
Make this process easier on yourself. Gather reports, analytics, employee input, customer feedback, and other pertinent information beforehand. It makes it easier when everything is just a click or two away. Collect information in advance. If you can, ask your team members to put together what you need to review.
Conduct your own business audit.
Audit your business internally. Go through your processes from a different perspective. Create an audit that looks at your successes as a business as well as the challenges you faced. Look at the solutions employed to face those challenges. How could you have resolved things differently if the outcomes were subpar? Were your services and or products up to your standards? How were your follow up procedures?
Most importantly, did you meet all your goals from last year? If not, why? This audit lays the groundwork for next year’s goals. It gives a quick, at-a-glance version of your business’ performance. What do you want to see next year? Where are you at in terms of your long-term business goals?
Evaluate and assess.
In reality, goal setting is not just something you do at the start of your business. There needs to be a cycle of regular goal setting while monitoring the progress of previous goals. Take a deep dive and evaluate and assess the following aspects of your business: mission statement, budget, expenses, customers, team members/employees, internal and external processes, technology, and online presence.
- Mission Statement: Your mission statement is the WHY of your business. Keep it current and relevant. Review this every year and ask if this still holds true. Is this still your business’ WHY?
- Budget: Review your finances and maintain a healthy budget. Make sure your financial plan is up to date. Having a budget helps you track where your funds are being spent. It helps you determine everything from advertising to payroll.
- Expenses: The goal of every business owner is to keep expenses manageable. You need to be creative with your expenses since you don’t want to cut areas that rely on the bottom line.
- Customers: Always re-evaluate your relationship with your customers when you set your business goals. Look at the entire customer experience and analyze what’s working right and what areas need improvement. Improving the customer experience should always be a part of your goals.
- Team Members/Employees: Since employees/team members are the lifeblood of any business, you should always consider them when setting your business goals. Keep your employees happy, motivated, and involved. Some businesses make the mistake of undervaluing their employees in exchange for maintaining or increasing the bottom line. In truth, employees respond to other incentives as well—flexible time off, lunch with the team, or even publicly recognizing their efforts.
- Internal and external processes: Always ask, is there a better way to do this? Evaluate your business’ internal and external processes and assess whether it can be streamlined. Where can you save time? Are there any duplications?
- Technology: Evaluate and assess the current technology your business is utilizing. Is it antiquated? Is there better technology that can create faster processes or is your technology delivering quality services and goods? Even if it is an additional, setting a goal to update your technology will be worth it in the long run.
- Online Presence: In today’s society, your online presence defines your business. Your website and your social media accounts, when done properly, generate traffic, leads, and sales for your business. Apart from your regular year end goals, you may need to create quarterly goals for your online presence to stay relevant in this ever-changing landscape.
Create S.M.A.R.T Business Goals.
The final phase of your business goal setting is creating said goals. When you set your goals, it is always recommended to use the S.M.A.R.T technique—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This technique is a very efficient way to communicate and to monitor your business’ progress. Set specific goals for what you want to achieve. Create measurable individual milestones for each goal. Create attainable goals. Make sure these goals are relevant to your business. Set goals with deadlines; timeliness is an important motivation.
In summary, year end planning for your business should include a goal setting process. It’s a great business strategy to measure progress from last year and achieve your goals for the next year.