If you want to take your business to the next level, setting the right goals could be the key. While creating the right goals for your company can be challenging, the best ones can make all the difference in your growth.
Hard work is required to build your business, but you also need direction. Setting solid and attainable goals is an excellent place to start. Read on to learn about different business goals and how to set them.
A business goal differs significantly from a New Year’s resolution and has way more money riding on it than a gym membership fee. Business goals are objectives tied to your vision for your company and the achievements you want to accomplish.
Business goals may pertain to the whole company, certain departments, specific groups of employees or other areas of the business. Depending on your purpose, the goals you set to help your company progress can be daily, quarterly or yearly objectives. If you’ve created a business plan, you may have already mapped out your goals as action strategies.
When setting business goals, it helps to be SMART, as in the goal-setting acronym that stands for “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.” SMART business goals can be highly effective.
A SMART goal should follow the elements in the framework, which we elaborate on below. By setting a SMART goal, a person plans out their goal to track and execute their specific target. Here are some pointers on what it means to set SMART goals.
When setting a goal, knowing precisely what you hope to accomplish and what actions you must take to reach your objective is essential. Let’s say you want to expand your revenue. These are some of the specifics you would want to decide as you set your goal:
Measurable goals use metrics such as dates and numerical values to track your progress. This approach not only encourages you to focus on the end goal, but also helps you evaluate how your efforts are helping you accomplish your objectives, which can help you stay motivated. In the above example, your measurable goal might be to increase your sales by $5,000. You might decide this should happen in a month, and then ask each sales team member to follow five extra leads per week in hopes of meeting this objective.
For a goal to be achievable, it must be realistic. For example, a goal to make $1 million in one day probably isn’t attainable for most of us, and setting such a goal would be setting yourself up to fail. Even though your goals should require you to expend extra effort, they should be reachable.
Teams can benefit from collaboration-based goals. Strengthen groups by creating interconnected objectives. Offer professional communication channels like Slack to facilitate coordination and celebrate achievements.
A relevant goal matters to your business; it should make sense and meet your company’s needs. Referring to the example above, would increasing your revenue make a difference to your business? Of course! However, not every business goal needs to be about revenue.
“If one of your big values is to serve others to the best of your abilities, then merely setting a revenue-based goal isn’t going to be enough to motivate you,” Heather Moulder, leadership and business coach at Course Correction Coaching, told business.com.
A time-bound goal has a deadline for the work you intend to do. When there isn’t any time limit, measuring your progress is hard. Deadlines can push you to action and help you work toward your goals efficiently.
Understanding a good goal can help you model your own goals for your small business.
Let’s say you want to increase revenue by introducing a new service or product. Moulder said this goal is purposeful and beneficial to your company because it would help you better serve your clients and improve customer satisfaction. It would also mean taking on more responsibility for creating your new product or service, so you would need to prepare for the time and resources that entails.
Business goals can also be about your employees. If your objective is, for example, to improve or grow your team members’ skill sets, you can do so through actionable items, like creating a committee to hire a professional instructor for employee training courses. Then, the objective would be to have this instructor train your staffers for the next six months. When they complete the course, you can measure their skills by assigning tasks based on their learning.
It’s one thing to have general goals in mind, but you need to put pen to paper. Writing your goals down is very effective. “The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible,” said Angela Civitella, a certified business coach and founder of Intinde. “You have no excuse for forgetting about it.”
Here are two tips to help you write effective business goals.
The language you use when writing your goals impacts how you perceive them and whether you get them done.
“As you write, use the word ‘will’ instead of ‘would like to’ or ‘might,’” Civitella said. “For example, ‘I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year,’ not ‘I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year.’ The first goal statement has power, and you can ‘see’ yourself reducing expenses. The second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked.”
Writing down your goals creates self-accountability. The goal is no longer simply in your mind but tangible. Whether you look at your goal in writing daily or revisit it months later, this extra step can signal intent and motivate you to achieve your objectives.
Make sure your goals are important to you and your company. Ask yourself, “Does this goal motivate me?”
“If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim,” Civitella said. “Motivation is key to achieving goals.”
There is such a thing as too many goals. Ensure you write down only extremely valuable objectives. A long to-do list with only two items crossed off can cause feelings of disappointment and frustration, which can add to demotivation and be incredibly destructive, Civitella said.
“Ask yourself, ‘If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?’” she said. “You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen.”
Four types of goals are beneficial in the business world. Read on to learn more about each of them.
Activity-based goals require you to perform specific tasks or activities. For example, you might set a goal to make 20 weekly client phone calls.
Process-based goals require you to focus on internal processes, strategies and behaviors. “Some examples would be resetting business policies for better efficiency or developing a new training program for staff to help their communication with customers,” Moulder said.
Outcome-based goals focus on the results of your efforts. You may have less control over these results if they’re based on consumer or client behavior.
“An example of this would be to get 10 referrals from existing customers,” said James Pollard, owner of The Advisor Coach. “You can’t directly control whether or not they give you any referrals, but you can influence the process by asking.”
Some goals are a hybrid of process and outcome goals, explained Moulder. For instance, a service-based business might set a goal to implement a new staff training program to improve customer service. The process portion of the goal is implementing the training program. The outcome is improving customer service, which you could gauge by a reduction in service cancellations or an increase in repeat customers.
Personal goals are those that business owners set for themselves. These may be related to maintaining or improving your health, work-life balance, or professional development. Knowing what you want for yourself is as essential as understanding what you want for your business because your personal goals affect how you run your company.
Celebrate reaching both your short-term and long-term goals. Choose rewards that give you time away from your business to unwind, like an outing with friends or a family vacation.
We set small goals in our everyday lives, such as making it home in time for dinner or eating salad for lunch. Goals are vital because they give you and your business direction. With them, you may perform at your best.
Without goals, however, it’s hard to measure your business’s success, which makes it challenging to recognize what aspects of your company are doing well and where growth is needed. Objectives and a mission statement also keep you and your team aligned. When everyone knows the company’s purpose and how their roles contribute to the mission, it improves morale and increases productivity.
Julie Thompson contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.