When starting a new business, it’s common to create a set of goals as part of your business strategy. These goals help to keep you focused, direct your actions, give you something to aim for, and measure your business success.
It’s not enough just to write these goals down though—you need to review them regularly to keep things on track.
With the holidays over and things starting to pick up for the new year, this is the ideal time to review your goals and think about what steps need to be taken to ensure your business success in 2012.
Break things down into smaller tasks
Major tasks and projects are usually easier and more manageable when you break them down into individual tasks: your business goals are no different. For many businesses, it makes sense to break things down into smaller timelines or phases, for example
- Short-term goals (up to 1 year)
- Mid-term goals (up to 5 years)
- Long-term goals (up to 10+ years)
Your short-term goals will often be the stepping-stones required to achieve longer-term goals. When defining and planning goals, some people find it easier to start with their long-term goals, and then work backwards to determine the shorter-term steps and goals required along the way.
Goals can be as simple or as complex as you like. They can be broken down to projects or tasks and set against regular KPIs and reports.
Get SMART with your goal setting
If you haven’t set goals for your business yet, consider using the SMART approach: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
For example, “increase my sales” is a good goal, but unless you flesh it out, it doesn’t give you any direction to achieve it or any way to measure success. If instead your goal is to “get 2 new customers each month”, you have something that is specific, measurable, and time-bound.
And when setting attainable goals, try to challenge yourself occasionally instead of always playing it safe. Give yourself some stretch-goals that if achieved, will help you reach your long-term goals faster. If you’re finding it easy to get 2 new clients each month, increase it to 3 or 4, and push yourself for greater success.
Review your goals
Two good times to regularly reflect on your business goals are the start of the calendar year and the start of the new financial year. In your review, you should consider things like
- Which of your short-term goals have you achieved? Is it time to review existing goals or set new ones for 2012?
- Are you still on track to fulfil your long-term goals or vision for yourself or your business?
- Do any of your mid-term goals need tweaking or re-aligning to meet your long-term goals?
There are a number of factors that can affect your goals (some of which are outside your control) including staff changes, global or national economic factors, and business sales performance. These will often require you to update or “tweak” your existing goals to minimise any negative impact on your business.
If your business’ focus changes, don’t be afraid to change your goals. Flexibility is a crucial factor in setting and achieving your business goals.
By starting 2012 with up-to-date and realistic goals, you’ll be giving your business the best possible chance of success for the new year.