Are small businesses properly highlighting their company goals and objectives for the New Year? According to the 4th Annual Staples National Small Business survey, which surveyed 300 nationally-representative businesses of 20 employees or less, more than 80 percent of businesses do not properly monitor their company's goals.
In response to the results of this report, office supplies giant Staples has teamed up with StickK.com, the online ‘commitment contracting' company, to launch the first-ever 'Staples StickK to It! Business Challenge.' From January 12 through April 12, small business professionals can log onto the initiative's website staples.stickk.com and choose a goal from within the following focus areas: organization and increased productivity, greening the office, improving your working environment, maximizing the bottom line, and professional development and marketing.
To track progress, business owners can enlist a referee – either someone of their choice or StickK will choose – and earn Staples EasyPoints for completing steps towards goals redeemable for office-supply merchandise and services. Staples is setting an example by setting its own company goal of recruiting one million small businesses to sign up for the Challenge, and they are working closely with the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) to achieve their objective.
On the timeliness of the program, Staples vice president of small business marketing, John Giusti, says, 'What we liked about it was that everybody naturally starts off [with] New Year's resolutions – both professional and personal. We wanted to focus on the initial part of the year and help people with their goals.'
According to StickK.com co-founder Ian Ayres, his company's services are not just for small businesses, but for entrepreneurs and individuals who want assistance committing to a goal. Whether they are getting their resume in order, or they want to commit to setting up office devices they are unfamiliar with, Ayres says with StickK's design-your-own plan model, 'the users are in control.'
Lori Becker, president and CEO of the Boston-based publishing company, Publishing Solutions Group, is one small business owner who has signed her company up for the Challenge. She says that for her, goal setting is most vital for company feedback, which is important 'because it helps to you understand if you're going in the right direction, evaluates your progress, and challenges you to improve performance.'
But sticking to your goals can be difficult, says Becker, who admits that this program would have been helpful in the past. 'There have certainly been times when an employee expressed interest in learning a new task,' she says. 'If we had a way to set a goal like this, it's much more likely that the goal would be achieved.'
However, for 2010, Becker says she is committed to monitoring company progress, and her goal this year will focus on generating new business beyond her traditional clients.
'One of the things I really recommend,' Ayres adds, 'is that people actually try to have at least three supporters. [You will be] much more likely to make some progress.'