Goals—they’re the foundation of our success and perhaps the single most important piece of building a long-lasting, sustainable small business.
But so often, they’re set arbitrarily or simply abandoned a few months into the year. So how can you set better small business goals that you actually keep?
Here are some useful tips to make sure your goal-setting process leads to real, actionable steps towards success.
1. Look beyond sales
It’s easy to get distracted by the numbers. Especially because it’s recommended to use SMART goals—goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
Misapplying the SMART goals theory, many small businesses set goals like “increase sales by 20%”. After all, your bottom line is what matters, right?
However, this goal doesn’t help you answer how you’ll increase revenue. Take some time to think about the more strategic side of your business and how you might make an impact on your revenue.
“Owning a business is a long game,” says Brittny Drye of Love Inc. “It’s more than just traffic and sales. One area of success to me is brand awareness, and people seeking my brand for inspiration immediately after getting engaged.”
While awareness-building tactics may seem like a stretch alongside client work, rest assured that they are an investment in the future success of your company.
2. Keep your goals realistic
Setting realistic goals is tricky. You want to think that you can double your business while also running a 10K this year and fitting in an art class or two.
But at the same time, you don’t want to set yourself up for end-of-the-year disappointment.
“Make sure that it’s not only attainable, but that it’s reasonable given the time frame”, urges Kevin Dennis of WeddingIQ.
“Ask yourself what new goals you want to reach and outline a plan for achieving them. It’s one thing to write something down, but by mapping out a path to getting there, you’re setting yourself up for success.”
It’s worth nothing that your goals should feel like a bit of a stretch. If they don’t feel a little hard to accomplish, they’re less motivating. Try to find a balance between being ambitious and unrealistic.
For more advice on setting realistic goals, check out this blog on intentional goal setting.
3. Use client feedback strategically
When you get reviews, recommendations, or complaints from past clients, take this invaluable feedback and use it to pivot your goals to improve your client experience.
“In our company, the negatives—such as poor customer service or poor quality of equipment—get used as training opportunities, whereas the positives are things we’re sure to continue doing to keep clients happy,” explains Heather Rouffe of Atlas Event Rental.
Make it standard practice to request reviews after every event as a way to assess what is and isn’t working in your business.
4. Set goals collaboratively with your team
Nobody knows your business like the people on the inside, and in many cases, your employees are in a great position to share new ideas with you.
“While you might have some goals regarding the bigger picture, your team could have some insightful feedback as to why you aren’t quite reaching them”, says Dennis.
“You want to ensure that your team is on the same page. This helps in creating a better work culture and your team will be happy that you value their opinion.”
Plus, goals that you set with your team are more likely to feel inspirational to the entire organization. You know what they say—two (or more) heads are better than one.
Set Better Small Business Goals This Year!
When you look at the year ahead, try to visualize where you’ll be if you achieve all of your benchmarks.
Harness this inspiration to stay motivated throughout the year and stick to your goals. And hey, if you reach your objectives earlier than expected, set some new goals and keep shooting for the stars.