The start of a new year presents the perfect opportunity to set fresh goals for your small business. After time off over the holidays, business owners tend to return renewed, revived, and ready to make things happen. However, setting unrealistic goals that never materialise can quickly deflate that motivational surge. In this article, we’ll explore practical tips and frameworks for crafting inspiring yet attainable goals to guide your small business success in the year ahead. If you’d like our financial strategists at KeyPoint Accountants help you set and achieve your business goals through customized planning, click here.
Know Your “Why”
Simon Sinek’s iconic TED Talk introduced the concept of starting with “Why” before determining the “What” and “How.” This principle very much applies to goal-setting. Before defining specific metrics and timeframes, reconnect with your fundamental purpose for running a small business:
- Why did you start this company in the first place?
- What impact do you aim to have on customers and the wider community?
- Who do you ultimately want to help through your products and services?
Understanding your motivations on a deeper level provides an invaluable anchor point. It ensures you work towards objectives that align with your values and vision. Goals that stray from your core “Why” quickly become meaningless or counterproductive.
Steve Jobs exemplified starting with purpose in Apple’s early days. While the company needed to generate profits to survive, its central mission focused on “changing the world.” This emphasis on meaningful impact fuelled game-changing innovations that also drove commercial success.
While your objectives don’t need to be as lofty as revolutionising entire industries, use your “Why” to guide decisions big and small this year.
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
The SMART goal setting methodology has withstood the test of time because it works. SMART stands for:
Define exactly what you want to accomplish. Set distinct objectives like “increase monthly revenue by 20% by Q4” rather than vague aspirations like “boost sales.”
Include quantifiable targets so you can track advancement. “Grow email subscriber list from 1,000 to 2,000 subscribers” is measurable.
Ensure your goals push boundaries but remain possible. If you’ve never earned over $8,000 a month, don’t suddenly expect to hit $15,000.
Goals should align with overall business vision and meet a defined need. “Upgrade website to enhance user experience” fits if UX is poor.
Every goal must have a deadline, even if it’s just a time of year. This creates urgency and prompts action.
4 Key Areas to Set Goals
Though your business likely has dozens of tasks and responsibilities to juggle, establishing SMART goals in a few critical areas will have the biggest impact on your bottom line.
1. Boost Revenue
Nearly every small business shares the goal of increasing sales and profitability. Set an overall target for yearly revenue growth based on past performance, market conditions, and operational capacity. Then break this down into smaller monthly or quarterly goals.
Monitor sales activity levels across both digital and brick-and-mortar channels. Identify opportunities such as underperforming product lines, new partnership potential, and advertising channels warranting additional investment.
Course correct throughout the year if certain initiatives fail to deliver expected ROI.
2. Improve Marketing Effectiveness
Marketing is essential for consistent revenue growth. Set quantifiable goals around lead generation, campaign performance, and content engagement.
If focusing on digital marketing channels, establish baseline metrics for website visits, organic traffic, email open rates, ebook downloads, and more. Then set realistic targets for improvement.
For offline channels, track impressions, engagement levels, and sales influenced. Set goals per channel and campaign.
3. Boost Customer Loyalty
Acquiring new customers often costs more than getting existing ones to make repeat purchases. Ensure you have concrete goals around retaining customers and increasing lifetime value.
Send out customer satisfaction surveys and monitor Net Promoter Scores. Establish goals to boost satisfaction ratings and reduce churn. Identify common pain points in the customer journey and set objectives around enhancing support and service.
4. Expand Your Reach
Gaining visibility and exposure is critical in an increasingly crowded and competitive business landscape. Set objectives that will position your brand as an industry leader.
Establish goals around growing your social media follower base by 25%. Set targets for email list subscriber growth. Identify relevant publications and podcasts and set PR placement objectives.
Tips for Successfully Achieving Goals
With targets established, here are some best practices for ensuring your small business goals become reality:
Break Goals Down
Rather than become overwhelmed by 12-month objectives, break these down into smaller milestones on a quarterly or monthly basis. Establish realistic timelines for hitting each incremental target.
Document and Share Goals
Write goals down and ensure they are visible to both you and your team. Schedule regular check-ins to review progress made. Share wins to keep motivation high.
Actively Track Progress
Invest in tools to help monitor applicable KPIs and metrics on an ongoing basis. Identify leading and lagging indicators specific to each established goal.
Adapt When Needed
Be agile and willing to shift plans if certain initiatives fail to deliver expected results within designated timeframes. Set thresholds for determining when an approach requires revaluation.
Recognise important wins and milestones achieved along the journey to keep energy and momentum high across your team.
Start Today to Set Your Small Business Up for Success
As the new year kicks off, now is the optimal time to define goals and objectives that will take your small business to the next level over the coming 12 months. Resist complacency and set ambitious yet achievable targets. Apply the SMART framework to determine the right goals. Remain focused, motivated, and consistent to ensure successful outcomes.
What are your top priorities and biggest opportunities on the horizon? Use this fresh start to your full advantage in order to make this year your business’s best yet. The time is now to establish laser-focused goals powering sustainable growth!