3 Key Steps to Setting Successful Business Goals
Happy New Year, people!
In case you haven’t noticed, the clock turned over and it’s officially 2019. Whether you were happy to kiss 2018 goodbye or reticent to turn the page and head to a new year, 2019 is upon us, and so is the looming of those lofty AF goals you’ve set. Each new year brings with it a new opportunity to begin again; if you’re an entrepreneur or aspiring one, this reset is much needed! We’ve been busy transitioning, expanding, and preparing for a massive year – and so have our clients.
In October, the Visionary team began our 2019 strategic planning by asking clients and partners their goals for this year. Our Strategists urged clients to set actionable goals prior to the clock turning over for many reasons, but the primary one was because we wanted to enter the new year already at a full sprint. The holidays can be a time where many, many, many businesses stop operating. As a matter of fact, unless you’re in Retail, or entertainment, your year ends around 12/21 each year. A lot of times, the season lulls us into a sense of comfort that makes creating goals a very hard thing to achieve; that’s why most diets go out of the window after Halloween, never to be seen again until March or April, after several false starts.
We know, because we’ve been guilty of this behavior for years (and in many areas, are still a bit of procrastinators, as a way of appeasing the rebel within. We are creatives after all). We wanted this year to be different, so the transition to 2018 began in September of last year, whereas the last quarter of the year is usually spent in “reeling mode”, the last quarter of 2017 was spent in transition and preparation for what is to come.
There was a lot of time spent thinking about business goals and the things yet to achieve, then there was a little more time spent thinking about our clients, partners, and their goals. We realized something very important during this time: many of our clients were in a free fall, just coasting along on the plans and ideas set almost a year earlier.
That’s what happens when you achieve a level of success previously thought impossible – you slow down. And, this is where most businesses fail: the slowing down after a victory.
The best business strategy and marketing plans need to constantly be reworked, reviewed and rewritten, but many clients simply don’t have the time to do it. At the very least, the new year is the perfect opportunity to spend time creating goals for your business. Whether it’s getting closer to starting that business you’ve been dreaming about, growing sales in the one you’ve already started, or finding the budget to hire the subject matter experts you’ve been dreaming about to get your business to the next level - it will not happen unless you CREATE THE PLAN. Below we’ve included our proprietary action plan designed to help clients achieve their top five goal, measure growth, and take one step closer to achieving more in a year than most people do in a lifetime.
1. Create specific goals
The key is to set realistic, achievable, actionable goals! The more specific your goal, the better. You want something you can come back and look at in the future that will help hold you accountable. No matter how smart you are, with everything else in your face in running your business (and the rest of your life) it’s possible those well-thought-out goals of yours will actually slip your mind come March if you don’t write them down!
Don’t just focus on blanket statements like “Increase brand awareness”; instead put a tangible figure beside that. It’s all about accountability, so you’ll want to remind your future self that you WANTED to increase brand awareness by “increasing website traffic 15% month over month”.
Pro tip: Don’t forget that it’s not all just sales. Most business books tell you that you must increase sales at all costs, but the truth of the matter is there are any number of goals you may decide are better for your business at this point in its life. This may include winning industry or local awards, lowering your costs, getting into a certain number of new stores or farmers’ markets, or doing a better job of engaging with your customers via Facebook or Twitter. Just make sure that the goals you write are specific so that down the road you can accurately tell if you achieved what you wanted to.
2. Detail the actionable steps you will take
Now that you’ve decided to “Increase website traffic 15% month over month”, how do you intend to do that? Write 5 or 6 things you can do that will help you achieve this goal. Think through the steps you are going to take to help achieve the goal; sometimes seeing yourself actively pursuing the goal makes for a far better motivator than I simply writing it down. Do not be afraid to think outside of the box either. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that entrepreneurs have more flexibility to try things that can take Corporations 200 days to get approved through red tape (We’ve worked in enough corporate offices to know this as FACT). If you think something might work, list it in your actionable items. The worst thing that can happen is you try, and it fails. If it fails, you can just chalk that up to a lesson learned. After all, most successes are just failures you learned from. Do not be afraid to dream big.
3. Review your goals frequently
Visionary's clients understand that the plans developed as a cohesive team are a living document. These goals (or a fully reworked business plan) are utilized to help guide through the coming year, and used frequently to evaluate if we are making progress towards achieving those goals; if not, then, it is utilized to determine how (and why) we will need to change course while there is still time to make a difference.
Why is this significant?
It’s only the first week of January and we have clients who have ALREADY reached some measurable goals, set new ones, and still more action plans being delivered. We set the tone in 2018 and discussed it weekly thereafter. It’s our job to help them reach those goals, and then set new ones once the goal is achieved. If you’re an entrepreneur, you may not have time to keep a steady eye on your goals, then actively work toward them with everything else that’s going on.
If you’re just now setting business goals for 2019… you’re already behind. Let us help you catch up. Even if Visionary Rising isn’t the firm to help you do that, we urge every business owner to invest in an outside source consultation. At the very least, you’ll walk away with an action plan that can carry you in to the last quarter of 2019, then prepare you for the transitional phase of 2020 and beyond.