The New Year is the perfect time to focus on your business, decide how you want to improve and set new targets. The end of the year is the best time to reflect on the progress you’ve made and plan your future development. But how can you ensure the next year is successful? Goal setting is the best way to reach your targets…when you know what you’re aiming for, you’re much more likely to achieve it.
The Purpose of Goal Setting
The first question to ask yourself when setting new goals is…what exactly are you trying to achieve? Goal setting is about so much more than just boosting your profits. It can help with all areas of your business. It can improve your innovation, increase levels of employee satisfaction and enhance the service you provide to your customers. But what’s the importance of goals? And why should you be setting them for your company?
Accurately measure your success
Goal setting can really help you to effectively measure your success. When running a business, you should always be looking for new ways to improve and grow, and setting targets for yourself can help you to clearly analyse the progress you’ve made. You need to look beyond what’s going on now and look at your business from a long term competitive and economic perspective.
Helps employees to achieve more
When everyone in your team knows what they’re working towards, it makes it so much easier for them to understand your company objectives and they can make decisions according to that. It can also eliminate a lot of uncertainty, which can come from not fully understanding your company goals. All employees should know exactly what they’re aiming for and what they’re trying to accomplish in the future. Goals energise employees and give a sense of motivation, therefore increasing the amount of effort and persistence. This improves productivity, which in turn helps everyone.
You’re more able to make informed decisions
Having clearly defined goals allows you to make better and more informed tactical decisions throughout the year, which can massively help you when you’re working towards the vision you’ve set out. It helps you to consider all aspects of the business planning process, including revenues and expenses and budgets, and you’ll have a much better understanding of the implications of your decisions, like making major purchases or gaining new clients. Knowledge is power… and the more you have, the better your decisions.
What are you trying to achieve?
Everyone wants more success, but just saying that “I want to be more successful” is nowhere near enough to keep you focused. The first step to setting clear goals is to decide what it is you really want. Be specific. What is it you’re looking to change? What areas of your business do you think would benefit most from improvements? Some examples of goals could be:
- Increasing the number of online customers
- Creating a new website, blog or social media account – or maybe just improving your existing ones
- Increasing your profits from existing sales
- Develop a new product or improve/change the products you already have
- Try to reach out to new markets, expand your business or grow your customer base
- Meet more people by attending networking events and become more involved in your industry
- Improve or be more consistent with your social media marketing
- Move to a new shop, office or factory, or improve your existing one
- Try to better understand the needs of your customers to improve your service
- Start using new technologies that can help you communicate with customers and clients more effectively
- Better understand industry trends and use them to implement changes in your business accordingly
- Learn how to delegate tasks more effectively to free up time and improve your work-life balance
- Set up more regular business planning meetings – planning is essential for giving more direct goals and keeps you focused
How to set effective goals
Once you’ve considered what you want to achieve, you need to choose which areas you want to focus on and decide on how you can achieve these goals. The best way to go about setting your objective and targets is to break them down and write down some steps you can take to make your goals work. A commonly used tool for goal setting is the SMART technique.
SMART is a great way of defining success and the tool can be used to set goals that are specific and achievable. Setting up success metrics in relation to your goals helps you to make sure you’re on track to get the results you desire. Breaking your goals down into yearly, monthly, weekly or even daily can also keep you stay on track for success.
Professionals who are goal oriented can really benefit from SMART goals and it can increase productivity and effectiveness throughout your business. Growth always starts with goals and you can set yourself targets that will give you the boost you need for a successful year. Setting new goals every year for your business is just as important as setting personal resolutions.
Specific – It’s one thing setting goals, but in order for them to be effective you need to get clear about what you’re looking to achieve. For example, if you’re looking to “expand your customer base”, be specific. What type of customers? Is there a certain area you’re looking to target? What demographic of geographic area do they belong to?
Measurable – As well as being specific, you need to be able to measure how successful they are. Decide on the exact quantity or quality you’re aiming for when setting your target. What is the exact target? If you’re looking to increase your sales or profits, what’s the amount or percentage increase you’re aiming for?
Achievable – It’s important to aim high, but you also need to make sure your goals are achievable within the time period. If you’re looking to open a new shop, make sure your income would allow for this to happen. If you want to increase web traffic, make sure you have a plan in place and resources available to achieve it.
Realistic – High targets can be great for motivating you into action, but make sure they’re realistic. Your goals should be enough to inspire you and give you something to work towards.
Timely – Setting deadlines can help to focus your attention and will make you much more likely to achieve the results you want. When do you want to reach your goal? Be specific – give yourself dates. Are there other individual milestones along the way? These dates can be adjusted throughout the year, but it gives you a good starting point.
Implementing your goals
Once you’ve set your business goals for the year, the next step is putting them into action. But how can you make sure you stick to them? Setting goals is one thing, but staying motivated throughout the year can be a struggle, especially when dealing with the everyday stresses of running a company. However, there are some things you can do to help stay focused and help you to achieve the success you’ve set out in your targets. Some of the best ways to stay motivated are:
Get emotionally invested in your goals
One of the main reasons so many individuals and businesses fail to achieve the goals they’ve set out is that there’s not enough emotion connected with them. How much do you care about the end result? You need to make sure that the goals you set are enough to both motivate and challenge you personally. Forget about what you think you should accomplish and start to think about what you actually want the most. The more connected you are to your goals, the more likely you are to stick to them all year.
But how do you connect emotionally with a goal? The problem is that a lot of business goals are based on numbers, which is fine, but it can also make it difficult to become invested in them. Try to create imagery or a vision board to help animate your goals and make them seem real. For example, if you’re looking to increase revenue to move to a new location, print out photos of the space you’re looking for and keep looking at it. Looking at your goals in a positive way rather than just the figures can help you to connect with them.
Finding the best goals for your business
If you’re still struggling to connect with your goals, try thinking of some fresh ideas that will really help to motivate you. Write out all the dreams you have, as well as things that you know your business needs to be successful. Try talking to your customers and ask for their feedback. What can you do to improve your service to them? What are they looking for from you?
Providing a better service to your customers is a great way to achieve more success. Talk to your employees as well. What ideas do they have that could help your business? What problems do they have that you could resolve? They may have some issues that are affecting your productivity, and dealing with them could impact your profits and success.
Another thing to consider is technology. Are there any products or services that your competitors are providing that you aren’t? Are there steps you can take to increase your customer satisfaction and improve your overall efficiency? The biggest mistake you can make in goal setting is making vague goals, as it can have a drastic effect on your motivation throughout the year. Try to pick goals that are not only realistic, but will have the greatest impact on your business and that will really help to keep you focused.
Break your goals into stages
When you’re looking at a goal you’ve set, it might seem overwhelming. A year is a long time and things can change. Breaking your goal into stages can help you to see how they can be achieved. If you have a goal to reach by the end of the year, try splitting it into three-month steps. You could also try monthly or even weekly steps if it helps you. You can also re-assess through the year to make sure you’re on track to achieve the targets you’ve set out.
Refine your goals
You can always make improvements to your goals before they’re implemented, as well as any time throughout the year. If you think a goal could be more specific, realistic or more actionable if you amended it, don’t hesitate to do so. A goal that says “generate more leads and increase customers” is fine, but if you re-write it to “rebuild the website to increase the number of leads by 10% in three months”, this is much more specific and you can really measure whether it’s successful.
Try taking a few of the goals you’ve selected for the year and re-write them so they’re more specific. Add more details to your goals, like time frames, exact figures and steps you might need to take to make them a reality. Writing your goals in this way helps to give you better direction and will give you a lot more motivation to achieve them.