Well, folks, it’s a new year. With that comes new opportunities, change, and resolutions that we inevitably give up on after two or three weeks. It’s also a great time to set goals for our businesses. But how do our business goals avoid the same fate as our New Year’s resolutions? Join me as I outline how to set achievable business goals in 2021!
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I realize that setting goals for the new year are kind of a custom within our society. There’s this unwritten rule that we have to have some sort of goal as we head into the new year. But I’ve never really bought into this tradition. At least not in the superficial sense. You see, I am a very goal-oriented person but I like to be hyper-efficient. I don’t set goals just for the sake of setting goals. If I can’t (or won’t because I don’t actually want to) achieve them, then what’s the point in setting the goals in the first place? So, what can we do to make sure that we are setting reasonable and achievable business goals? Well, it turns out there is plenty that we can do.
I’m a firm believer in strategic planning. Having a clear and measurable plan for our businesses each year is the best way to consistently grow and improve them. However, I have worked with enough small business owners to understand that not everyone is following a strategic plan every year. If this is you, don’t worry. Whatever you did for last year, whether it be a SWOT analysis, a list of goals, or a full-blown strategic plan, think back on that.
How did you do? Did you reach your goals? Were they frivolous? Did they help your business? Ask yourself these types of questions and be honest with yourself. Do a self-assessment of how well you did against your goals for last year. The answers to these questions will provide you with some perspective on how well you did in setting achievable business goals. Of course, it’s possible that you did none of these things in 2020, and we’ll get to that a little later. Regardless, it’s imperative that you go through the strategic planning process this year.
Once you’ve finished reflecting on last year’s goals, it’s time to look at this year. I have selected three goals that I want to achieve in my capacity as the owner of my business. One of these goals is to spend more time away from my business. My dear, sweet wife, Emily has patiently and gracefully paid her dues over the past twenty years as I’ve started, grown, and sold several businesses. We decided that I should take two weeks away from my business each quarter. Basically, this is just a break in the routine that allows me to spend time with my family and to actually think about my business.
Maybe your not in a position where you can do that just yet. If so, what goals could you work toward in 2021 to make it possible for you to work on your business rather than in it? Perhaps, you could set a goal to transition one area that you’re in control of to a team member. By training them to do the job exactly as you want, you’re freeing yourself up to work on another area, while ensuring that things remain up to your standards. An added benefit is that this could make your business more attractive to prospective buyers and investors. Whatever they may be, you need to set three business goals for yourself in 2021.
Likewise, you should have your team think of three things that they would like to achieve within their specific areas of responsibility. This is a great opportunity to create buy-in for your team, and it empowers them to look for ways to improve the business.
Anytime I talk about setting goals, I talk about being SMART. In order to create achievable business goals, they need to meet certain criteria. So what does it mean to be SMART?
So, whatever your business goals are, hold each one up to these five points. If it doesn’t pass this checklist, rethink your goals! To make this even more simple, use our free FS Smart Goal Worksheet!
If you’re anything like me, if it’s not written down, it’s not getting done. You may think this is silly but there’s solid evidence that shows that people are much more likely to achieve their goals when they put them in writing. How much more likely? Well, according to Dr. Gail Matthews, you are around 42% more likely to follow through with goals that have been written down.
In a study conducted by Dr. Matthews at Dominican University of California, she found that only 43% of people reached their business goals without writing them down. On the other hand, 63% of those who put their goals in writing achieved them. That number went all the way up to 76% when they also had a friend or colleague holding them accountable to their goals.
Folks, that’s a huge difference. It’s such a simple thing to write your goals down and it could be the difference between achieving your goals and missing the mark. So, write down your goals and place them somewhere you will see them every day.
Just as Dr. Matthews’ study revealed, achieving your goals is helped when you’re being held accountable. This is another reason that I wanted you to have your team members set three goals for their areas. This can be orchestrated to be a part of your strategic plan. You can hold them accountable to the goals that they’ve set for themselves, but they should also be holding you to your goals. Together, the entire team holds each other accountable to the overall plan.
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It’s human. nature, my friends. If I’m trying to shed a few holiday pounds, I am far more likely to succeed if someone is there to tell me to put down the pizza. On the other hand, I’m much more likely to put some pizza down my gullet if nobody knows that I’m trying to lose weight. The same is true of all of our goals. We just do better when we have someone in our corners cheering us on to success.
Here’s where it all comes together. Gather the team around the table and whittle your business’ goals down to three primary objectives. These objectives should help you reach your goals. From there, you can create three tactics for each objective. Just as the objectives point to your overarching goals, your tactics should drive toward accomplishing the objectives. It’s possible that your team members’ goals for their individual areas are the very tactics required to accomplish the objectives that achieve your goals. Finally, each tactic needs to have three action steps that will lead to completing the tactics.
Friends, we’re in a new year with new opportunities. Let’s make the most of them by setting achievable business goals to improve our companies. 2020 was hard, but life is good. Setting realistic goals and achieving them can be frustrating but it doesn’t need to be. By following this basic guide, we can make reaching our business goals at least financially simple.
Strategic planning is a long and difficult process that can be one of the most rewarding things you can do for your business. If you have questions or just need a professional to help you through the process, reach out to us. The team at Financially Simple has helped many business owners improve their businesses through strategic planning.