If your small business is having a hard time goal setting, the following steps can get you started. While they may not help with your New Year’s resolution to get in shape, they could be the key to healthier bottom line.
First: Recognize the Need to Set Goals
In a recent survey of 300 small business owners, 80% of those polled said they didn’t keep track of their business goals. This means there’s a fairly good chance you could fall into the same category. Without clear-cut goals, your business can survive, but it will drift along aimlessly, reactively and without a clear mission and purpose. Acknowledging the need to set goals can rectify this.
Second: Define Long-term Goals
Long-term goals are ones that define your business and typically fall within the categories of service, social involvement, profits and growth. Think where you’d like your business to be in three to five years and commit it to writing.
For example – I’d like my business to:
- be the unquestioned leader in customer service
- help stop hunger in my community
- reduce soft costs by 20%
- double the number of locations
Third: Set Short-term Objectives
Once you have your long-term goals, the next step is to break them down into actionable, manageable steps. For instance, if you intend to double the number of locations over the next few years, a manageable short-term objective might be to scout one new area per month to determine the places with the most potential.
An acronym that has helped many business set reachable short-term objectives is S.M.A.R.T., which stands for:
Fourth: Stay Focused and Consistent
Staying focused and consistent is one of the trickiest steps for any business. For many successful business owners, it entails check-listing and regular check-ins. You may find it easiest to create a spreadsheet or use a mobile app that lists each goal and tracks your progress. Define a day and time each week to review.
Another pitfall you may encounter is having goals that conflict or compete with each other. For instance, let’s say your business wants to become the service leader and double the number of locations over the next three years.
Opening new locations requires a considerable amount of focus. So does developing a culture that delivers excellent customer service. If your long-term goals conflict with each other, determine which is more important. Solicit the help of your employees and colleagues – their insights may help you figure it out.
Fifth: Reward Those Who Are Working To Achieve Your Goals
One of the most effective ways to reach goals is to get everyone form the mailroom up on board. And one of the most effective ways of doing this is to reward them for their efforts. Rewards don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. In fact, recognition is often enough to keep employees encouraged.
Once you understand and commit to goal setting, your small business has considerable potential. The sooner you start, the sooner you can reach it.