If you’re starting a business, you want it to be a success. No entrepreneur has ever started a business with no intention of making it a mega-success. Also, no serious entrepreneur (such as yourself) has ever achieved any success without clearly defining his or her purpose and business goals.
Well-set, strategic goals represent important achievements in your organizational strategy. They are goals that need to be achieved over the next one or five years. These goals determine where you’ll put your efforts every day and what your quarter on a quarter plan will look like.
Having clear and well-defined goals can:
- Give you a sense of direction
- Improve collaboration and teamwork
- Motivate you to keep working towards something
- Help everyone understand the direction the business is heading in
NOW is a great opportunity to sit, reflect and review the progress your business has achieved so far. This will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies so far and will help you set your sights on new goals and objectives for the year ahead. Your goals are a part of your business plan; they are your business objectives.
Before setting any business goals
Before you start to write down your goals, you need to understand the areas where your business needs improvement. While you may have an idea of the key areas, it helps to reflect and review every few months to gauge whether progress is being made in those areas or not.
Use these strategies and tools to assess the present standing of your business:
- Market research: do your homework on a timely basis to identify new customer needs, any changes in trends, or changes in the technology. This will help you stay up to date.
- SWOT analysis: every time you sit down to reflect and review, jot down your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will give you a clear understanding of where you stand and how to plan your next move.
- Benchmarking: Research similar businesses in your industry or your geography and compare your growth and resources with them. This can help you assess how your business is performing and in which direction should you move.
Setting your business goals
Use the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) technique when you’re setting goals. This will help you gauge whether your goals are realistic or not. It’s a good practice to write down your business goals in your business plan to help keep you on track to achieve them.
Consider the below factors when writing down your goals:
- Specific – be crystal clear about what you want to achieve.
- Measurable – make sure you can measure your goal so that you can keep track of the progress and know when you have achieved the goal.
- Achievable – ensure you have the necessary resources (time, finances, manpower, etc) to meet the goal you are setting.
- Relevant – ensure your goal is relevant to the direction where you want your business to head. For example, increasing brand awareness, growing the team, etc.
- Timely – each goal should have a deadline, or you’ll be forever working to achieve it.
What a SMART goal looks like
Final goal: I want to grow my cake business
Specific: I will gain five new returning clients for my business
Measurable: I will measure my progress by keeping track of many new inquiries come and how many converts while maintaining my current client base
Achievable: I will stick to gaining five new clients because I have resources for only that kind of increment
Relevant: Adding more returning clients to my current base will allow me to grow my cake business and open my own bakery
Timely: I will get five new customers over the period of next three months
SMART Goal: I will gain five new clients for my cake business within a three-month period while maintaining my current client base. This will allow me to slowly grow my business and open my own bakery.
Working towards achieving your goals
Once you have your list of goals in place, you’ll need a plan to achieve them. Here, it is crucial that you stay realistic about what you can achieve, or you might set yourself up for disappointment. A good strategy is to break down the steps into smaller chunks.
Here are a few factors you can consider when making your plan/strategy to achieve your goals:
Actions – describe the actions you are going to take in detail
Time frame – how long do you anticipate a task will take to complete (include a start and finish time)
Responsibilities – jot down which team member will be responsible for what task/action
Resources – make a clear and detail list of all the resources you will need to accomplish the goal. This includes your budget, staff, any other supplies
Desired outcome – describe what you expect to achieve from your actions and how will you know whether you’re making any progress towards the goal or not.
How do you decide whether you have achieved your goals or not?
Put a timely system in place to track the progress of your goals. This will keep you on track. This can be a weekly meeting with your team members to check where each one is with their tasks. Or it can be as simple as ticking off a completed task from a list.
Make sure you reward yourself and your team every time a goal is achieved. This will help build morale and keep everyone striving for more.