Many times, a new year can be when we are motivated to set new personal goals. We may want to get in better shape, save more money, or learn a new skill.
But what about your business? It deserves the same attention--but unfortunately often gets ignored. In fact, one survey found that more than 80 percent of the 330 business owners surveyed didn't track their business goals.
If you want to grow your business (and your business skills) you need to establish goals and set up steps to meet them so you can stay accountable. Here are five steps to follow to help you identify and accomplish your business goals for 2018:
1. Set goals that motivate you.
Your goals should have a defined outcome and should be something that benefits both you and your business. Don't let money be the primary target.
Yes, you may want to bring in more income. But how you achieve that goal will depend on factors like improving client relationships, expanding your business into new markets, or broadening your own knowledge and expertise.
Try this: Write down why your goal is important to you and how it benefits your business and career. Once you can address that, you'll have a goal you're more committed to achieving.
2. Have SMART goals.
You may have heard of SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. The SMART approach helps you define your goals so you can attain them.
I'm a fan of the method. Here's how to use it:
Specific: Goals should be defined and detailed. Vague goals can feel overwhelming. Don't say, "I want to make more money." Everyone does. Instead, say something like, "I want to increase sales by 10 percent," or "I want to add 10 new customers per month."
Measurable: A measurable goal helps you know if a goal can be met. For example, if your business relies mostly on referrals from existing customers to get new clients, make sure you measure customer loyalty. You can do this by calculating your business's net promoter score, or NPS, which focuses on one essential question: "Would you recommend me to a colleague, friend, or family member?" The feedback provides a measurable gauge of your effectiveness to create customer loyalty, which in turn creates referrals for your business.
Achievable: Over-reaching goals can erode your confidence. Making sure they're achievable helps to ensure you didn't bite off more than you can chew. You want to achieve these goals--so begin small and add to your goal as you have more bandwidth over time.
Relevant: Don't sign up for a goal you think you should do--commit to one you want to do. For example, in my yoga studio, if I want to set a goal to create more revenue opportunities with my current customer base, I'll need to first test with my customers if a new service or product offering is something they'd purchase. Many people "want," but if there's no proof they'll buy, the goal isn't relevant to increasing sales.
Timely: Goals need to have deadlines or otherwise they will never be met. But make sure you can take on your goal right now, or whether it is best to save the goal for later. Check in routinely to see if the time frame is still realistic, and keep in mind that it's okay to push out a date because of new circumstances.
3. Use visual reminders.
Keep a photo or inspirational messages related to your goal in constant view. This helps you keep your eye on the prize. If you have team members, make these messages a part of this year's theme, so they're mindful of the goal too.
4. Design an action plan.
How will you go about achieving your goal? Write out the individual tasks you need to complete, including related support like supplies, budget, and personnel. Be detailed--it's better to have too much information and cut back than underestimate.
Set reminders. Monitor your progress on a regular basis. Set up daily, weekly, or monthly reminders. This ensures you stay on target and helps you identify changes or adjustments to make.
There's no better time than a brand-new year to set up new business and career goals. Taking on a new goal is one of the best ways to help you grow and flourish. Achieving them can be easier if you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, why, and how you plan to get there.