With a new year rapidly approaching, it is the perfect time to reflect and begin thinking about how your business can better achieve its goals. Without a clear, stated, and manageable set of objectives, having a successful year will certainly be much more difficult.
By having a pre-established set of goals—which can certainly be adapted as time goes on—your business will have a much better sense of direction and will be able to easily recognize whether you are progressing or regressing. Business goals don’t always need to be financially motivated; they can also relate to building relationships, creating a more comfortable work-life balance, and everything in between.
In this article, we will discuss some of the most time-tested ways your business can begin actively achieving its goals. No matter what industry you may operate in or how large your business may be, simply resolving to achieve these goals will certainly be a step in a positive direction.
Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model
The “S.M.A.R.T. Goal” system is one that is consistently taught at many business schools and utilized by corporations all around the world. There is a reason that this particular system is frequently referenced when the notion of creating resolutions is brought up—it works.
The S.M.A.R.T goal system attempts to establish a universally useful set of guidelines that can help both businesses and individuals better achieve their long-term objectives.
- Specific—by creating detailed goals (as opposed to just “be better”), it will be much more possible for you to actually create some positive change.
- Measurable—a good goal is one that you can objectively recognize whether or not it’s been achieved. For example, striving to improve sales by 8% is much better than striving to simply be a better salesperson.
- Attainable—if your goals are too out of reach, you will be more likely to give up on them early. Your goals should push you to be better, but should also be reasonably attainable.
- Relevant—if you’re going to do anything, you should probably have an underlying reason why. Creating goals simply for their own sake likely will not be enough to create positive change.
- Time Bound—by creating a sense of urgency, you can motivate yourself to immediately change. Whether your goals take place on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, setting reasonable time frames can be very productive.
The primary purpose of using this system is to make objective progress much more attainable. So instead of simply saying “I want to grow my business”, you should say “I want to secure 5 new $1,000 per month contracts by the end of the year.”
Choose Goals That You Can Pursue Immediately
If your goals are primarily dependent on other events occurring—certain companies going out of business, receiving a grant, getting approved for a loan, etc.—then you are willingly letting your destiny rest in somebody else’s hands. Though things such as earning grants may be periphery objectives, in the short-term, they are not very useful for anyone trying to create goals.
The best business goals are the ones that you can begin immediately pursuing. Though the goal itself may be many steps away, you should be able to clearly recognize the first step that you can potentially take when you go into work tomorrow. As long as the goal itself will enable you to be continuously making progress, then taking the time to formally define it will have certainly been worth the effort.
Create Checkpoints Along the Way
If you are someone who likes to think big, as many small business owners and entrepreneurs seem to be, then your goals may take place on a rather grandiose scale. When a goal is big and multiple steps away, you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed. In order to make these goals more manageable, it may be very helpful to create various checkpoints along the way.
If your goal is something that takes place on a yearly basis—increasing sales by 12%, for example—then it may be helpful to break that goal down into monthly or quarterly pieces that are a bit easier to swallow. While you still may be striving for 12% sales growth, aiming for 3% growth each quarter, or 1% growth each month will also help guide you to the exact same end objective.
Find Ways to Hold Yourself Accountable
One of the problems with resolutions is that, while many people at least try to make them, most end up abandoning them long before the year is over. This is largely because, both personally and professionally, it can be very difficult to hold ourselves accountable to difficult tasks on our own.
Fortunately, there are many different things you can do to hold yourself accountable:
- Write your objectives on a piece of paper that you plan to read quite often—the very act of writing will help build a mental commitment
- Say your objectives out loud or, even better, tell them to someone that you trust
- Create a reward system—say to yourself that if you achieve a certain objective, then you’ll “allow” yourself to go somewhere or purchase something that you like
- If you’re ever feeling stuck, write down the things that are preventing you from achieving your goals—this list is likely much shorter than you may initially assume
By consistently reminding yourself and remembering your goals, achieving them will be much more possible.
Strive for Progress, Not Perfection
Lastly, when coming up with long-term goals for your business, it is very important to remember that you should be striving for progress, not perfection. If you are approaching the middle of the year and realize that you have not even come close to achieving one of your goals, it can be very tempting to immediately give up. But, instead of giving up on your goal, striving to at least move closer to achieving it will undeniably be beneficial.
There are obviously many different things that can sidetrack you or your business from achieving your objectives. As long as you can keep looking forward, doing everything you can to be making measurable progress, then developing goals will still have been quite useful.
As we begin to move into the next calendar year, many businesses are trying to reevaluate the general direction they are moving. By using the S.M.A.R.T. Goal System, holding yourself accountable, and creating various checkpoints along the way, your business may quickly find itself in a position to have its best year yet.