How do you want to grow your small business in the new year? Learning to set manageable small business goals requires knowing what you want to achieve before you reach for the stars. Once you have a direction in mind, you can break down those goals into smaller steps.
To help you sort out your ideal business goals, Pango Financial has compiled a guide outlining some goal-setting skills. Stay focused in the new year as you set those aspirations at a manageable level.
What Is Your Business Dream?
To start off, think big. What is your ultimate goal for your small business this year? If your business is still in the early stages, your goal may be to break even or even to start turning a profit. If you are more established in your community, maybe you’d like to introduce a new product or service into your offerings this year.
Take out a sheet of paper and write down one or more goals that are lofty but attainable. We’ll break them down further in subsequent steps; right now, focus on what you ultimately want out of your business in the coming year.
Feeling a little stumped? Some common goals for small business owners include:
- Focusing on creative marketing strategies
- Reducing unnecessary business expenses
- Boosting productivity among staff
- Opening a new location
- Building and expanding your business’s brand
The SMART Goal Process
To help you break down your business goals into manageable chunks, remember the acronym SMART. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound—five essential characteristics of a realistic goal.
Consider the SMART process’s five steps. What do those words mean when setting goals for your business?
Simply saying, “I want my business to grow this year” is not setting a SMART goal. How exactly do you want your business to grow? What steps might you take to achieve that growth?
A better example of a specific goal is, “I want to increase my business’s revenue by offering a product or service I know my community needs.” You’re stating exactly what you want to accomplish with your business and how you’re going to go about it.
Now that you’ve zeroed in on a specific goal, how are you going to quantify your success? Ensuring that your goal is measurable will help you track your success throughout the year. Plus, setting a quantifiable goal sets a recognizable finish line.
Continuing with the example above, you can make that goal measurable by introducing numbers. Consider the following: “I want my revenue to increase by at least X percent by the end of the year. I’ll achieve this by offering Y product or service.”
Now that your goal is more concrete, you can track your progress month by month. Consider implementing benchmark goals every month to help you stay on track to achieve that goal.
When setting business goals of any kind, give yourself a reality check every so often. Ask yourself, “Is this goal something I can feasibly accomplish?”
Goals like “Become a Fortune 500 company” and “Make a million dollars in profit” are lofty sources of inspiration, to be sure. But they are not the most realistic business goals for you right now. Make sure the business goals you’re setting are things you can reasonably achieve with the time and resources available to you.
Why are you setting this business goal? How will achieving this goal help your business in the long run? When you set SMART goals for your business, make sure each smaller goal is relevant to the big picture. For example, if you get a lot of foot traffic from social media marketing, a goal like “Increase social media presence on X, Y, and Z platforms” is supremely relevant.
On the other hand, if a particular service you offer isn’t popular with customers, focusing your attention on expanding that service may not do you much good. Make sure the goals you set will boost your overall success.
For a goal to be truly SMART, it has to abide by a timetable. Take out your calendar and set an ultimate deadline for the goal to be achieved, then set regular benchmarks to keep you and your staff on schedule.
If you want to increase your revenue by a certain percentage by the end of the year, break your goal down even further into monthly sub-goals. Keep in touch with your employees about those benchmarks to ensure everyone stays on the same page.
Tips for Staying on Track
Now that you know how to create SMART business goals, consider how you can keep your eye on the prize, so to speak. The new year is a popular time to set lofty goals and resolutions; how can you keep those goals at the forefront of your mind throughout the entire year?
Track Progress Regularly
If you’ve set monthly benchmarks or sub-goals to help you reach your overall business goal, schedule monthly staff meetings to discuss those benchmarks. Look at your sales numbers and how they stack up next to last year’s.
Are you and your employees having difficulty reaching monthly benchmarks or goals? Schedule informal weekly check-ins and ask your staff how you can support them.
Seek Outside Support
Goals are much more difficult to achieve if you’re trying to go it alone. Having a support system in place will help you get out of challenging situations should they arise.
If one of your business goals is to reduce your debts, look into the business funding solutions available to you for consolidating or paying off those debts. Are you struggling to learn smarter accounting practices for your business? Have the contact information of a certified public accountant (CPA) on hand so you can ask a seasoned professional for help when you need it.
Pivot When Needed
Flexibility is one of the most essential qualities of a smart business owner. Plans don’t always work out exactly how you expect them to; learn how to alter your business plan if your original goal is no longer reasonable or achievable.
For example, let’s say you set goals to increase revenue by a certain percentage throughout the year, but in the middle of summer, a fire destroys your retail space. You’ll have to change your goals and set new ones as you recoup your losses and rebuild your physical location.
The new year is a perfect time to set manageable small business goals. Reflect on the past year—both your successes and your shortcomings—and challenge yourself to have an even better new year! Remember the SMART process for setting and achieving goals, and recognize when you need additional support to reach them.
Wondering about the different business funding options available to you? Check out Pango Financial’s funding solutions tool for more information.