Simply put, setting goals will help your business focus attention on achieving outcomes you desire. Of course, it is easier said than done, but if you start setting goals you are on a path to achieving them. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will be successful all the time, but each attempt is experience you will gain to succeed with the next one.
And when you are ready to set your goals, you can improve your chances by guiding your goal setting with SMART. This is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. With the SMART parameters in place, each goal is guided with criteria designed to help you focus your efforts so you can increase the chances of achieving your goals.
The Importance of Setting Goals
The importance of setting goals can’t be overstated. This is especially the case for small businesses because they have fewer resources available to them. By setting goals, these resources can be optimized to achieve them.
When you set goals, the first thing they do is provide focus. You can use this focus to keep everyone motivated and promote teamwork and increase morale. But more than that, goals help you measure your success as well as your failures. In turn you become more focused to achieve more and build on your success while learning from your failures.
So, what kind of goal should you be setting for your small business? This will depend on what you want to accomplish for your specific case. However, it is important to have a clear objective when setting your goals.
If for example your objective is to increase your revenue, what are the goals you have to set and achieve to make it happen. Keeping this in mind, here are 10 examples of goals you can set for your small business.
Grow Your Market Share by 15% in One Year
Setting realistic goals is one of the criteria of SMART. So, how realistic is it to increase the market share of your business by 15% in a single year.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis will let you know just how realistic it is. By the way, it is one of the other goals in this list. If it is realistic, and you know your area, product line and available growth, it can be done.
The key is to not set limitations on the markets you want to penetrate keeping all of your options open.
Increase Website Traffic by 10% in Six Months
Websites have become an essential tool for today’s businesses. And increasing traffic is one way to grow your audience/customer base.
In order to achieve this goal, your team will have to measure a baseline, analyze your site, optimize your content, increase social media efforts, increase ad spend on Google Ads and use SEO best practices, to name but a few of the things you have to do.
Measure your performance every two months to see how you are progressing and make adjustments as needed. And remember as long as you make improvements with each measurement you are doing better.
This is to say you might not achieve the final objective, but if your traffic is larger than it was six months ago, it is progress. Don’t lose that perspective.
Deploy an Automation Workflow for the Next Quarter
Manual processes are slowing down small businesses and greatly limiting their growth. An automation workflow gives a small business the ability to use human resources to increase leads and profits instead of toiling on daily operations.
With all the available tools in today’s digital ecosystem, this goal is attainable, which is another of the criteria of SMART. Autoresponders, chatbots, APIs, and even virtual assistants and freelancers can be part of this automation push.
Improve Customer Service by Responding to Questions within 24 Hours
This is another goal which can ask of you, is it attainable? The answer is it can. However, it will depend on the size of your customer base and how much you want to invest.
But as a small business with local customers, this is very doable. Using the mobile devices of your staff, chatbots, and automated solutions you can start closing support tickets within 24 hours. And the payoff will be huge.
Lower and Eliminate Business Expenses
Ongoing business expenses are oftentimes set on automatic. And they are hardly reviewed to see what they are doing, why, and if they are even necessary.
Once you have identified what is necessary and what you can eliminate, you can go after this goal with more specificity. You can lower your expenses by improving operations, lower your debt, using more technology and outsourcing processes.
And because you have identified and solved this problem, you can implement a review process to ensure unnecessary ongoing business expenses don’t creep in again.
Increase Productivity by 5% Every Six Months
Incremental improvements in productivity deliver a compound effect which result in huge gains. The key is to use measurable metrics which are attainable, realistic, specific and timely. All of the SMART criteria.
If your objective is to increase productivity by 50% in five years, the 5% goal for every six months makes it very realistic and attainable. With new business tools, productivity apps, outsourcing, freelancers and other solutions, you can achieve the long-term objective and the interim goals.
Funding is an ongoing challenge for small businesses. So, if one of your goals is to raise $100,000, it is a very specific goal. The amount is irrelevant, the point is you have a funding goal in mind.
Whether you are looking for venture capital, crowdfunding, loans or finding a partner, you have to sell your business. In addition to selling your business, you also have to look at multiple options and targets.
This means finding alternative funding sources as well as settling for part of the money and going for another funding drive at a later time. The key is to keep adapting and moving forward if you fall short.
Open a New Location
If this question comes up it is because your business is doing well. And when you go into the exploratory process of opening a new location, set achievable goals which will not take away from your current business.
At the same time, don’t forget the steps which led you to the success of your first location. When setting your goals for your next location follow your template closely while eliminating some of the mistakes which you’ve learned from.
When you are ready to make a decision, look for alternative growth options and if a second location is the best choice, go for it.
Create a New Product or Service Within a Year
Creating a new product or service gives your business new life because it will energize your existing customer base as well as attract new ones.
When you set the goals for introducing the new product or service make sure to include market research, customer feedback, cost, demand, and integration with existing product line. The time-line is important when you set a goal for a new product launch. So, each of the preceding goals have to be completed in time to make it happen.
Do a SWOT Analysis
Why a SWOT analysis? Because after you finish your analysis you will have data points that will help you set actionable goals that will greatly improve your entire operation.
Doing a SWOT analysis is not easy and it can get expensive if you have a big business. But in the end, you will have some tremendously valuable information in your hands. And with this information, the goals and objectives you set and complete will have a noticeable impact on your business. This includes everything from sales, growth, opportunities, competition and much more.
One last point: When you set your goals, make sure to fully bring in your employees aboard. After all, they are going to be doing most of the heavy lifting. By including them early in the process, they will be invested in giving 100% to make sure each goal is achieved.
1) Build accountability in the process – By building accountability in the process, you make everyone involved accountable. Knowing who is responsible for what across each phase goes a long way to give your goals a better chance of succeeding.
2) Goal adjustments – Your goals should not be set in stone. The economy and business world by extension is very fluid. And with that in mind, your goals should be flexible so they can adapt to the changes that will most assuredly come your way.
3) Celebrate your achievement – Recognizing, celebrating and rewarding your employees for a job well done is a must. Why? Because you are going to need them for all your future goals.