Why Set Goals?
Last year was big for me. I mean milestone birthday big. And of course, I celebrated in style—we traveled, got tattoos, and ate a lot of cake, but the thing I remember most is the present my friend Constance gave me.
Looking back, I can say that on top of everything else, last year was the first year I felt truly successful in my small business. After years of relentless work, I finally smashed through several seemingly impossible barriers. For the first time ever, I made more than I had hoped, doubled monthly billings and wrote myself a decent-sized paycheck on a regular basis. I feel amazing and optimistic for this next year.
I’m not telling you this to brag or make you feel bad (if you didn’t have such a great year). I’m sharing my wins with you because I want you to do the same.
I didn’t succeed simply because I kept showing up day after day (though you do have to). And it wasn’t luck, timing or the economy (though I’m thankful for all). Last year was my best ever because I am a goal digger—that’s right a GOAL DIGGER.
All credit for the clever wording goes to Constance. Her birthday present to me was a coffee mug boldly branded with the words Goal Digger because, as she says, I am always talking about goals.
Why Set Goals in Business?
She’s not wrong. I talk about goals a lot. If you ask me a question about marketing, you could safely bet that my answer will include a question about your goals.
I believe in the importance of setting goals – not necessarily resolutions, but goals. It’s easy to make resolutions, especially at the start of a New Year. Anything seems possible on January 1 and by the 15th you’re ready to throw in the towel.
Simply deciding that you want to do better this year doesn’t make it happen. If that were the case, we’d all be healthier and happier just for the resolve alone, wouldn’t we? No; making anything happen means setting specific goals that lead us to our desired result. And that’s why set goals in business.
Tips for Success: A Business Goal Setting Worksheet
Tip 1: Be Specific
Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results Oriented and Trackable) goals. For example, setting a goal to get more business is not SMART. Effective goals need to be as specific as possible: “I want to double repeat customers to at least 30 by June 2017.”
An effective goal includes a measurable result (30 repeat customers) and a timeframe (June 2017). An effective goal is also written down. It’s easy to swerve from the finish line if you don’t have it staring you in the face. Why set goals if you’re not going to complete them?
Tip 2: Plan for Action
After writing out your goals, you have to decide how to act on them. A big goal can seem overwhelming and impossible until you break it into smaller, easy to accomplish pieces. There’s no right way—do what works for you to visualize the process and result.
Working from my previous example, your next step would be to write down how you’re going to double your repeat customers. The list might look like this:
- Make a list:
- Create a list of existing customers
- Add details about why you like working with them, what they purchase and how often
- Review your list to determine what they have in common
- Write these traits down so you know what to look for in new customers
- Find out why:
- Prepare a short customer survey
- Send an email to invite your customers to provide feedback
- Pick your top 5 customers and schedule lunch or coffee to interview them
- Generate buzz:
- From your list, pick one customer per month to ask to write a review
- Brainstorm ways you can WOW your customers
- Create a “refer a friend” promotion
- Make a list:
Tip 3: Write It Down
Our Business Goal Setting Worksheet is a great resource to write out your specific goals and the steps required to achieve the results you want. Keep it handy, like pinning it somewhere you’ll see it every day and can easily remind yourself of what you need to do. Keeping your eyes on the prize, in other words.
Don’t Jump Without a Chute
The devil is in the details, as the saying goes, and being as specific as possible when growing a business is what it takes to succeed. Without having a clear finish line and the steps needed to get there, how will you know when you’ve arrived?
You can resolve to make a change, but there are no exact measurements for success; it’s entirely subjective. By defining what Success and Growth mean to you and your business, though, each step of the process can be measured. And what gets measured gets done. If you’re not measuring, why set goals?
If you cannot clearly state (in writing with actual numbers) how you want to grow your business, then you should re-think it. Running a business without goals is like skydiving without a parachute—not very smart and sure to hurt.
You’re a Person, Too…
When setting goals, remember you’re a person, too. As I sit in my office on a Friday at 7:15pm writing this, I realize that I’ve once again fallen into the trap of being a small business owner. Too many of us succeed at the expense of our families and health. For most small business owners, you are a key part of the business, so your goals should be personal and professional.
Here are a few suggestions for goals to get your started on your way to your best year ever:
- Tweet about a local business or favorite online company or product five days per week.
- Inspire the community to participate on your blog with comments and guest posts.
- Get at least 30% of new business from existing clients or their referrals.
- Take a vacation with your family (and don’t work during it!).
The year holds great promise for your business. Why set goals? Taking time now to plan will ensure you meet (and maybe exceed) your goals. If you’re overwhelmed or need help getting started, we can help.