Business and goals go hand in hand.
Consider: Napoleon Hill spent a decade interviewing the richest, most successful business people in the world and the result was his classic book, Think and Grow Rich. Hill not only noted that goals are key to creating wealth, he emphasized what these uber-wealthy, super successful business people taught him about the power of goal making: “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
Having aspirational business objectives sets your team on a path. It gives direction and funnels efforts. That is why setting goals is especially important for people and small businesses alike. If you haven’t set any new business goals lately, maybe you should. After all, how else are you going to make that dream a reality? Here then are a few to get to started.
How to Make a Goal That Sticks
The value of creating business goals is multifold:
- Goals keep everyone headed in the same direction
- Goals give clarity to a business’ mission and purpose
- Goals are an objective way to measure progress
Before we get into discussing different types of attainable business goals, analyzing goal metrics, and giving specific business goal examples, we need to first look at the goal-setting process and what makes for a measurable, valuable small business goal.
It all begins with defining what a business goal actually is. What is the big picture?
The key is to create goals that underscore your business’ purpose and direction. Goals can be for the company as a whole or for various departments or particular employees. The important thing is to give these folks a direction to work towards.
One useful tool in the goal-setting process, whether the small business is looking to create long-term goals or short-term goals, is called the SMART goals process. SMART is a business strategy goal-setting process that stands for:
Specific: The goal is clear, as are the steps to achieve it.
Measurable: The goal has milestones that can be reached.
Achievable: The goal is not pie-in-the-sky; it is doable.
Relevant: The goal makes sense for your business.
Time-based: The business goal has clear and realistic timelines.
Here’s an example of some company goals:
A short-term goal might be to increase traffic on the company blog by 20 percent over the next six months.
A long-term goal could be to grow revenue by 10 percent over the next two years.
Both of these are “SMART goals” because they check all of the boxes above: They are specific, measurable, achievable/not pie-in-the-sky, etc.
One way you can tackle your SMART goals is by breaking them up into smaller tasks and milestones. For example, say that a business goal is to reduce your rent by 10 percent by next year. Key, measurable milestones might be:
- Meet with current landlord to see if the lease can be re-negotiated
- Identify three other locations that might fit the bill for a new office
- Tour all three facilities
- Sign new lease
9 Valuable Business Goals
Read this list. Find some goals you like. Disregard those you don’t. Let this list be a muse that allows you to come up with your own small business goals that are a fit for your business and your team members.
1. Increase the Number of Items Sold
In one way or another, every business is in the business of selling something. This is true whether you sell actual products or, as a service business, you sell time and expertise.
Either way, the only way to grow your business is to increase sales. As such, a fine short-term business goal is to set a quota for your sales team to achieve within a relatively short time-frame. The number should be a stretch; that is, it should be achievable, but not too easy to reach. For example: “We will increase the average size of each order by 5 percent within six months.”
Part two of each goal should be a timeline for the goal. To wit:
Timeframe: 6 months
2. Grow Online Sales by 10 percent
Beyond individual units sold, consider also online sales. With everyone having pivoted to e-commerce shopping during the pandemic, this too would be a smart, worthy goal. You could sell new products or different products online.
Timeframe: This would be a good year goal, so one year.
3. Land Three Large, New Customers
A problem too many small businesses have is that they get stuck, revenue-wise, because they focus on selling B2C (Business to Consumer) or B2SMB (Business to Small Business). This is a problem because individuals and small businesses have small budgets. Larger clients–corporations, governments, and high-net-worth individuals–have bigger budgets, and bigger budgets mean bigger paydays. So a smart long-term goal and marketing strategy would be to get more big clients.
For example, a real estate office that has traditionally concentrated on selling single-family homes could venture into commercial real estate where the projects, properties, deals, and budgets are substantially larger.
Timeframe: I year
1. Grow Our Social Media Following by 25,000 Followers
When it comes to social media, the more specific the better. So while I titled this entry “social media following,” more specifically, you will want to name the social network or networks that are most important for your business. Getting more Facebook likes is different than getting Instagram or Twitter followers, and the techniques and strategies you would use are different as well.
That said, growing one’s social media following is valuable for a few reasons. First, social media is where the eyeballs are, so that is where you want to be too. Second, it is a valuable tool for not only interacting with your current customers, but attracting new ones as well. Finally, it costs nothing but your time and free marketing is tough to beat.
If this is a goal of yours, a book I would highly recommend is One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days by Brendan Kane.
Timeframe: Of course, it depends on your goal and purpose, but, as Brendan Kane notes, it is indeed possible to grow a social following significantly in only a short period of time. So I would suggest buckling down and giving your team a short timeframe for accomplishing this; six months should be plenty of time to see results.
2. Launch Our Brand on a New Social Platform
Yes, you may already have a presence on some of the major social media sites, but it is also fairly safe to say that you do not have a large presence on all of them. While you certainly do not need to be on them all, and it is likely that you do not have the bandwidth to manage that either, enhancing your presence on one or two more can only help your business. Doing so would allow you to reach more people, get more customers, make more money, increase sales, and hit your milestones.
This, of course, takes time and effort. But it sure is worth it. After all, what is marketing? Marketing is the process of getting customers (old and new alike) to notice and buy from your company. Social media is a game changer because it is a practically free way to do just that–get noticed and forge relationships with new people and potential customers. If, for example, you have no presence on Twitter, just imagine, a year from now, when you have 50,000 followers. This means you can reach and interact with 50,000 more people than you do now. It means, for instance, that you can share important company information with 50,000 more people. It means 50,000 more people are potentially your new customers.
Timeframe: 1 year.
3. Double Our Opt-In List
There is a saying online: “The money is in the list.” This is because an opt-in list is a remarkable thing (“Opting-in” is when someone gives you their email address with the understanding that you will contact them again, with an e-newsletter for example.) It is a list of people who want to hear from you. It is customer satisfaction made tangible. That is what opting-in means. Whether they opt-in to get your great newsletter, or that special sale, or to comment on your blog matters little. The fact is, they have given you their email address because they like and want to interact with your business.
And that is marketing gold because, frankly, it is a rare thing when a potential customer wants you to stay in touch with them.
There are all sorts of ways to get people to opt-in. In fact, we recently posted a great blog on that subject.
Timeframe: 3 months.
1. Prepare for Emergencies
Were you prepared for the pandemic? Of course not, none of us were—not our employees, not our stakeholders, not our competitors.
That is, except for my friend Rick.
Rick is a thoughtful fellow. A great planner and professional money manager savvy in methodology, Rick decided that he needed a business interruption insurance policy and so bought one 20 years ago. When Covid hit, like so many people, Rick’s business dried up, almost overnight. People were not looking to invest in March of 2020. But fortunately, Rick was ready. His policy kicked in, paying him 75 percent of his pre-Covid revenue for more than a year.
Yes, a once in a hundred-year pandemic is a, well, once in a hundred-year event. But other emergencies do occur. Bad things happen to good businesses—fires, floods, riots, earthquakes, theft, and more. So getting the right sort of insurance is simply smart business.
Beyond that, consider investing in a back-up generator. If the power goes out for an extended period, you will be so happy you did.
Similarly, it would behoove you to create remote and physical offline and offsite backups of all of your important records.
Finally, if you don’t have one, create a rainy day fund.
Timeframe: 6 months
2. Go Green
There is no need for a deep dive on the need for us all to do our part, but let’s also just add that from a business perspective, customers increasingly appreciate, and patronize, shops, stores, and other businesses that make sustainability a priority. Climate change is affecting us all and letting the public know that you are doing your small part can pay huge dividends in good will, customer appreciation, and employee satisfaction and retention.
1. Improve Company Culture
A business’ culture is usually a top-down thing. That is, the ways, values, and work ethic of the founders usually sets the tone for how the overall business is run and what the company culture is like.
That said, in a Covid world, where so many people are still working remotely, maintaining the positive corporate culture is ever more difficult. More than ever, your business needs strong, competent, compassionate, and responsive leadership. Your team needs you and your management team to be at the top of your game. Compliments, positive feedback, constructive criticism, authenticity, kindness, bonuses, incentives–they all can make a difference, especially now.
Think about it: After the past few years, many employees are tired, frustrated, and fed up. That is the basic reason for the so-called “Great Resignation.” Given that, it just makes sense that improving your business’ company culture can have real, lasting, valuable, and positive benefits–for both the business itself as well as your team.
And remember, once this era ends, there will indeed be a new normal. You can lay the groundwork for that now, by doing the right thing by your team members and being a great boss.
The Bottom Line
Think back to when you were first starting your business. One thing you had were big goals. And having big goals worked for you (we know that because you are in business, reading this). So that’s the idea. Take some of the goals above and tweak them for your business. Dream big, again.
But remember this too, broad goals are just the start. Yes, these are all valuable goals, but they are just that. Goals. It is up to you to implement them, because, after all, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”