Find Your Direction: How to Set Goals for Small Business

Starting a task without a plan can lead to inefficiency and confusion. This theory applies to things we set out to do in our personal lives and is especially true for businesses. Setting realistic goals is essential for executives and their employees to have a sense of direction. Knowing where to start and where to go next can help teams stay focused.

So, when you’re planning out that next sales target, be sure to set both short and long-term goals, remaining adaptable to a business environment that is constantly changing, thanks to new technologies and other external factors like COVID-19. Not sure where to start? Let’s look at some of the most important components and values of small business goal setting.

Make Sure Your Goals are SMART

The pillar of small business goal setting is ensuring that your objectives are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. What do each of these terms mean? Let’s explore them further along with a smart goal example for each.

Specific

To better your odds of accomplishing a goal, ensure there are as many specific details as possible. Begin by asking yourself and your team pointed questions, doing your best to get clear-cut answers. These questions can include things like:

  • What do we want to achieve by the end of this project?
  • Which employees or teams will be involved in achieving our end goal?
  • In what ways will this project impact other aspects of our business?

Example: Increase SuperSmartphone sales, through its dedicated landing page, by 5%.

Measurable

How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? How will you track progress? On the journey towards completion, a project should be easy to assess. Depending on the project, this can be done by storing and reviewing data on a time-based schedule.

Example: Progress will be measured and reported on a monthly basis, through the company’s online analytics dashboard. This will display how many customers completed a successful sales cycle and purchased a SuperSmartphone via the dedicated landing page.

Attainable

Can this actually be done? Realistic goals will likely present you and your team with challenges. Despite this, there should still be a clear path toward completion. Be sure to assess your resources, from staffing to financials before determining whether a goal is achievable in the agreed timeframe.

Example: Without further intervention, SuperSmartphone sales were projected to grow 2% in the next six months. With a dedicated push by the Sales Team and the use of A/B testing on the product landing page, a 5% (or more) increase is attainable.

Relevant

Many business owners and their teams can relate to having worked on projects that didn’t add much value or align with business direction. Needless to say, these types of projects take away time and resources from others that could have a positive impact on your bottom line. Before you get started, consider the worth of a project to your business, including its timeliness.

Example: Closing many physical locations, the business that sells the SuperSmartphone will be relying more heavily on e-commerce. The push to increase SuperSmartphone online sales is in response to new customer trends and aligns well with the direction of the business.

Time-bound:

Setting a goal without deadlines can create a lack of motivation and urgency among those working on a project. Even if you aren’t entirely sure of a completion date, you should still set a target or timeframe to aim for – modifying it as needed. Setting short-term target dates for long-term projects can also help to measure progress and provide a reason to celebrate milestones.

Example: The 5% increase in SuperSmartphone sales via the dedicated landing page should be achieved in six months.

Goal Setting Tips to Consider

Short- and Long-Term Goals: We all have big goals, either at work or at home. It could be wanting to buy a vacation home in a warm destination or achieving record sales for a product in your portfolio. If you determine that your big idea is attainable through a set of actions, you can now consider it your long-term goal.

Short-term goals are smaller, time-based steps taken towards achieving your long-term goal. They can help to keep you and your team motivated and on track. For example, Let’s say your goal is to grow SuperSmartphone sales by 10% in one year. Your short term-goals could include things like increasing product landing page activity by 25% in three months, a 5% increase in sales by six months, and conducting 10 product-related media interviews within eight months. These small activities will help to lead to the consumer intrigue required to achieve your long-term goal at the 12-month mark.

Have a Plan to Track Progress and Celebrate Success: Be sure to celebrate small wins along the way! Provide your team with incentives, like expenses-paid lunches or gift cards for reaching short-term goals. These actions will help employees remain motivated and focused while also showing that you, as a leader, recognize their hard work.

The benefits of goal setting in business are profound. Goals give businesses and their teams purpose, direction, and motivation. You can plan goals any time, for almost any reason. But when doing so, be sure to consider using the SMART approach to planning. Remember, if you don’t know what you want, then there’s a good chance you aren’t going to get it!