Setting Business Goals: How to Have Your Best Year Ever

If there’s one thing everyone is talking about at the start of a new year, it’s goals. While there’s nothing magical about January 1st, the new year can feel like a clean slate, and sometimes that’s the motivation you need to make things happen.

No matter how long you’ve been in business, you probably have some ideas about what you want to accomplish. Goals can be big or small, long term or short term. But if you actually want to achieve your goals, you have to have a plan.

Reflect on the past year.

Before you move forward, it’s important to look back. When you take the time to reflect, you’ll be more prepared to set the direction you want to take in the new year. 

An easy way to do this is to make two lists. First, list what worked in the past year. Did you hire a new employee that took important tasks off your plate? Did you change your hours to allow for more time off? It could be as simple as remembering to bring a snack so you have enough energy for your clients.

Next, make a list of what didn’t work in the last twelve months. Maybe you want to change the retail products you sell. Maybe you feel like your salon or spa needs a new color scheme. Think big or small and jot it all down.

Revisit your business strategy.

If the mission of your business defines what will be achieved, then the strategy determines how resources should be used to accomplish the mission. It’s important to look at your business strategy when setting yearly goals to be sure your goals align with your overall business objectives. 

You can read more about the importance of business strategy here.

Set SMART goals.

Many goals are unmet because they have no clear definition. They’re more like dreams, which while important, make it challenging to know what needs to be done in order to succeed. A better plan is to set SMART goals.

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Specific: A goal needs to be specific so that you know what it will take to achieve success. “I want to make more money” is too vague because making $100 more each month takes different steps than making $1000 more each month.

Measurable: When you set a goal, you need a way to track success so you can reevaluate your action plan if necessary. “I want to increase retail sales” doesn’t give you any data to track but “I will increase retail sales by 25% by the end of 3 months” is easier to evaluate.

Attainable: While you may have big dreams for your business, setting unattainable goals is a recipe for disappointment. Your goals need to be appropriate for your current stage of business. Meeting small goals encourages you to achieve bigger goals so it’s okay to start small.

Relevant: Your goals should align with your overall business plan and long-term objectives. This is why it’s particularly important to review your business strategy before setting goals. Why set a goal to open a second location if that sort of expansion isn’t part of your long-term business plan?

Time-bound: By giving your goals a time frame for completion, you make it easier to set priorities and action steps to achieve success. A goal that isn’t time-bound is harder to track and often takes longer to meet because you can easily put it off if you get busy or short on time. Having a deadline (even one imposed by you) is a good way to stay on track.

The Bottom Line

Goals are not the same as dreams. Goals for your business should be aligned with your overall business strategy and objectives. It’s also helpful to reflect on the past year to determine your direction for the next year. Set SMART goals to make it easier to succeed.