The beginning of a new year calls for new goals, whether you’re a consumer or a business owner. However, as the year goes on it can be tough to stick to your goals if they’re vague. When setting small business goals, you’ll be more successful if you include a detailed strategy that outlines milestones, how you’ll measure progress and performance, and how this will affect your business’ bottom line.
Whether you want to improve marketing reach, cut expenses or get your business organized, read on for some tips on how to nail your small business goals this year.
Define Your Strategy Before You Set Small Business Goals
When planning your goals for the year, keeping the big picture in mind will help keep you strategically focused and keep you from wasting time majoring in minors. Key strategic business questions fall into five major categories, says London Business School professor Elsbeth Johnson.
- Mission: What is the purpose of your organization?
- Value: What do you offer customers?
- Profitability: What does your company offer your business and shareholders?
- Policy: How your company behaves internally towards other team members and externally toward customers and shareholders
You can use these general strategic areas as a template for generating more specific strategies and tactical plans. For example, if your goal for the year is to organize your business, you may want to tackle questions such as:
- How could better organization of our marketing campaigns generate more leads?
- How could better organization of our sales process generate more revenue?
- How could better organization of our workflow, digital files, and physical workspace improve productivity and cut costs?
Using these types of questions to guide your organizational planning can help ensure that your organizing activity makes a practical difference for your business, your productivity, and your bottom line.
Taking a Team Approach
Your strategic planning will be more informed if you get input from all relevant departments of your company instead of doing all the brainstorming yourself. Input from leaders of areas such as marketing, sales, customer service, project management, and IT can have a particularly critical impact on your business performance.
In order to solicit input in an organized manner, management professional Jonathan Mosley recommends taking four steps:
- Emphasize the importance of your meetings to participants so that they understand its impact on your company’s performance.
- Have a written agenda for each meeting, circulate it prior to the meeting, and stick to it.
- Have a designated chair run each meeting, a designated scribe record notes, and a designated timekeeper to advise the chair when agenda items are running over budgeted time.
- Plan on scheduling more than one meeting in order to keep agendas and discussions focused.
Following this format will help you solicit input from your team members in an organized, productive, actionable way.
When deciding what parts of your business to focus on, it’s critical to use your strategic vision to set priorities. This way you focus on activities that will improve your business performance. For instance, leading marketing expert Jay Abraham says that there are three major ways to grow any business:
- Increase the number of prospects you reach who become customers
- Increase the average amount your customers spend per transaction
- Increase the average number of times your customers buy from you
Take a look at the goals you have in mind for the year – how can they be refined to impact these three key marketing and sales areas? By thinking about your bottom line when setting out your goals, you ensure that you’re prioritizing initiatives that move the needle. But don’t forget, it’s equally as important to focus your goals on areas not directly tied to business growth, such as:
- Boosting customer satisfaction
- Improving operational efficiency
- Cutting costs
Improvements in any of these three areas can still have a large impact on your business’ bottom line, as they will help you cut costs and increase the lifetime value of your customers.
Scheduling Tasks and Tracking Progress
What doesn’t get scheduled, doesn’t get done. In order to implement your goals, it’s vital to organize your team’s schedule so that you budget in time for performing relevant tasks. The most efficient way to do this is to use project management software to create, delegate, and schedule tasks and to track progress. Assign one person as project leader to monitor progress on tasks and send out reminders as needed. Send out periodic updates on project progress, and hold periodic meetings to review progress.
Basing your goals on major strategic goals such as marketing, sales, and project management goals can help you keep your organizing focused on practical objectives. Getting input from your whole team can give you more insight into what goals to pursue and how to go about pursuing them. Setting priorities helps you focus your time and energy on improvements that will truly make a practical impact on your business. Scheduling tasks and measuring progress will help ensure that your plans get implemented. Following these steps will help you succeed at meeting your small business goals so that you can be more efficient and more profitable in the coming year.