As each new year begins, you are likely taking a look at the goals for your business, your budget, your plans, and the necessary steps to make this all happen. It is an important step for every business owner to set those next goal and challenge yourself to grow further.
Here we have outlined some of those steps to really make this a profitable and rewarding year for you.
Step One: Take in the Context
Before you can figure out where you want to go, you need to evaluate where you are. It’s a bit tedious, but a review of your starting point provides valuable insight when planning your next steps.
- Review your budget. Get a ballpark idea of your company’s financial situation. There’s no point to setting a goal (say, expand into three locations) if the budget just isn’t there to turn the goal into reality.
- Review your company mission. Your goals should be furthering your mission. If your company prioritizes community engagement for example, maybe a goal could be opening up an internship opportunity for a local college student. If your company’s mission has changed or shifted this year, now’s a great time to adjust it.
- Review the year’s progress and challenges. Ask yourself some questions. In what areas did your company grow? Maybe you rocked social media. What can you do to maintain this momentum? Maybe devote a bigger budget to social media marketing. In what areas did your company struggle? Maybe your company lacks a business blog and is missing out on the benefits of a blog. What can you do to address these issues? Maybe you can hire a virtual assistant to launch and run the blog for you.
- Review your competition. Analyzing your competition provides four key insights: what resonates with your target audience, what does not work with your target audience, areas your competition is beating you, and areas you can be that your competition is not. This information can help provide a direction when you’re establishing your goals (check out our strategic guide to competition monitoring blog post to see how to get this information).
Step Two: Do a Killer Brainstorming Session
Now that you’ve got a clear picture of where you are, you’re ready to envision where you could be. Spend some time brainstorming possible goals for the year, making sure to dream big and think outside the box (you’ll make these goals more realistic later).
Before your brainstorming session, you’ll want to get into a creative mindset. First, go for a walk. Studies show it’ll improves your creativity. Then, do some brainstorming exercises to “warm-up” your creative muscle (for a fun exercise, check out our blog post). Now you’re ready to think creatively and dream big! Once you’ve brainstormed several ideas, pick the top two or three.
Step Three: Turn the Idea Into a Goal
There’s a difference between an idea and a goal. An idea is an idealistic, imaginative, fun thought to entertain (wouldn’t it be nice if we…). A goal is a tangible, realistic end point to pursue. A good goal contains three elements.
- It’s attainable. A goal is not a dream or a wish, like I wish I could retire now. A goal is possible to achieve. When evaluating the possibility of a goal, consider what you need to accomplish it. Do you have enough time (or will you need to give up something in your life)? Do you have enough knowledge (or will you need to take a course/training or outsource to someone who does)? Do you possess the resources (or will you need to invest in better technological equipment)?
- It’s connected to your company’s values. Good goals support the “why” of your business (plus, goals with a clear connection to your values are easier to achieve).
- It’s measurable. You need to be able to quantify the progress toward your goal and the achievement of your goal. A broad goal like “increase social media presence” is much harder to work towards than a concrete goal like “increase average reach for Facebook by 30%.
Step Four: Make a Detailed Strategy
It’s good to have a goal. But a goal without a strategy just stays a goal (rather than becoming an accomplishment). Making a strategy is crucial to ensuring you work toward (and achieve) your goal. Start with a deadline and work backward creating a timeline. Include checkpoints along the way for completing projects and evaluating progress (and adjusting strategy as necessary). You’ll want checkpoints at least ¼, ½, and ¾ of the way through (but some goals will lend themselves to more frequent milestones).
You’ll also want to be sure to articulate the elements needed to achieve the goal. If you’re planning on implementing offering a new course, you’ll need to include multiple steps in the strategy (developing the course, formatting the course, testing the course, launching the course, marketing the course, etc.).
Once you articulate the steps and deadlines that make up your goal, you’ll want to make a measurement strategy. Decide how you want to measure progress and success, as well as how frequently you want to measure. You’ll want to measure at least halfway through (but in almost all cases, more often throughout the time period).
Step Five: Start Off Strong
Now that you’ve got a clear picture of your business goals, you want to start off strong. You can employ a few tactics to set yourself up for success.
- Tell others about your goal. When you tell others about your goal, it makes you more likely to achieve it. Mention to a few friends your business goals in the next few weeks.
- Eat a live frog. Mark Twain once said, “eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” If possible, tackle the most difficult or dreadful tasks early on in the day or in the process. You’ll have the most energy and ambition at the start, so harness it to knock potential roadblocks or discouragements out of the way early on.
- Look to others for inspiration. When you start getting bogged down, give yourself a motivational boost by reading stories of others achieving incredible goals (like this list of 100 people doing incredible things)
With a little preparation and planning, you can achieve some great business goals each year. If parts of your goals require more time or experience than you’ve got, hire a virtual assistant! Our experienced staff would love to take some projects off your plate so you can focus on running your business. And from the staff at QBR, best of luck with achieving your goals.