New Year No Fear: How to set business goals and attain them
By Filomena Silveira
Here we find ourselves at the beginning of 2017 and wondering, what can I do to make this year a more successful year for my business than the previous year?
Many people set New Year’s resolutions or set goals to correct personal poor habits and improve their overall health or lifestyle. Sadly, we often hear about people’s failures in maintaining these resolutions, where they begin very strongly and motivated, but quickly lose steam and end up putting off their goals until the following year.
In the business industry, we see the same fate of small to medium-sized business owners, where they attempt to set goals for the new year, but fail at implementing them in the long run. The motivation for change is usually stemmed after reviewing the previous year-end analysis and meeting with shareholders and directors to discuss the year-end results.
Evaluate Previous Years’ Business Goals
After a wonderful holiday season, now is the time to review, analyze and take inventory of the previous business year’s results. It is imperative to understand why you were unable to attain certain anticipated goals. You may have already spent a significant amount of valuable time planning for 2017. However, it is important to strategize this plan effectively, map out your business strengths and weaknesses and ensure that your business grows in the right direction and stays on the right track. A careful review of your goals for the previous year will effectively help you to assess what common pitfalls you should be avoiding for 2017.
Why Should You Review Your Goals?
Reviewing your progress will be particularly useful if you feel:
- Uncertain about how well your business is performing
- Unsure if you’re getting the most out of your business or making the most of market opportunities
- You don’t have a business plan or – if you do – you have not reviewed the success of it
- Your business is moving in a direction different that you had originally intended
- You are outgrowing your premises capacity and need to relocate or expand
- Your equipment is getting old and you need financing to replace it
- Data Management and IT Systems cannot support your current growth
- Your resources are scarce and unable to meet the business growth needs
- Your financial position is not being tracked properly on a regular basis and you are being challenged by:
- Inefficient cash-flow;
- Uncontrolled working capital;
- Lack of proper tracking of costs and therefore resulting business inefficiencies;
- Unable to acquire or negotiate for borrowing to support business operations.
Setting Successful Goals for 2017
Many times, people set very generic goals and subsequently do not know how to follow up on them. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, merely stating that is not enough. It is important for your goals to be specific. Therefore, you need to convert your goals to numbers as far as possible.
An effective goal will be ‘to increase target sales by 20%’. The next step in the goal planning process is to address the ‘how to’ question. How do you plan to increase the sales? Do you plan to increase your sales channels or perhaps change your sales strategy? Once this aspect is settled, you will need to set specific deadline dates to your goals. Therefore, an example of a smart goal would be ‘to increase target sales by 20% through online sales channels by the end of third quarter 2017’.
Lastly, make sure that you assign accountability for these goals. For that reason, the last and the most important step in setting up business goals is to share them with the people involved. This way, you will help the people understand their involvement in the business and the direction is which the business is heading in. These are some of the important considerations that you need to keep in mind during your goal setting process.
Successful Goals Lead to Successful Results
Working on a plan for the future, setting goals and strategies to be accomplished at the beginning of a fiscal year and reviewing this plan on a regular basis is the key to success for your business. Doing so will not only ensure profitability and continuous improvement but also growth within your company.
It is important to take realistic steps and start prioritizing the most relevant areas to be targeted first, and then set a realistic and achievable plan. Try not to fix all at once as this will only lead to more chaos. It is vital to strategically set up an attainable plan and consistently measure results against this plan because business goals need to be continuously reviewed and monitored to ensure success.
There is no easy and quick solution when setting up a plan for the New Year; you must devote the time necessary in order to properly put together a plan that is right for you in helping you achieve your ultimate business goals. The key to becoming successful will not happen overnight or even in a year, but through careful planning and assessment you will one day run that marathon and achieve the success you were striving for.