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By Lynne Gowers on 13th August 2015
If you’re the proud owner of a new small business, you know that there wasn’t anything small about the amount of work required in setting it up. Whatever stage you’re at, it’s important to set goals around where you’d like your business to grow. Here’s our advice for setting goals for your small business – helping you work smarter, not harder.
In order to be a success your business depends on multiple areas – from marketing to sales to customer service. Create individual goals for each of these, and you’ll find it helps clarify exactly where you need to pay particular attention. Perhaps you need to improve your social media output, or increase your revenue by 20%. You can have more than one goal per business vertical, but be careful not to overload yourself. Goal-making is meant to be motivational, but biting off more than you can chew will just make you feel deflated before you’ve even started.
Think outside of the goal-setting box, and don’t just set yourself quantifiable goals. Sure, it’s handy when you have an actual number to aim for, but there’s more involved in reaching business success than targets and percentage increases. Are there soft skills you want to work on? Maybe you want to use your time more effectively, or improve your negotiating technique. Include these as a goal – but be specific at the outset. If you’re too vague, you might find yourself ticking it off just because it’s an easy option. If there’s a course you want to complete, or a conference to attend include these as part of the goal. It’ll make you less likely to rewrite history when it comes to your internal performance review.
Setting goals is only the first step. The next (and biggest) step is the work you do in a bid to reach them, and then the final step is assessing how you fared. It’s crucial not to forget to check in on your progress every now and again, even if you’re putting it off because you haven’t done as well as you’d like. You’re not superhuman, and there’s no shame if you don’t hit every goal you set.
Review your goals on a regular basis to make sure that they’re still relevant, and to ensure you still want to aim for them. There’s no point in trying to reach a goal that is no longer applicable to your business. Markets change, and – more importantly – so do people and lifestyles. Maybe a house move means that you need to start aiming higher with your sales targets. Or perhaps a new baby means you need more flexible working arrangements. It’s okay to readjust your goal posts every now and again – but be honest with yourself about whether it’s a justified change or not.
Set goals about where you want your business to be in five years time. If you want, you could even think further ahead – where do you see your business in ten years? Don’t be scared to think big. Be ambitious. Once you have a long term goal planned you can work backwards in order to determined how you’re going to reach that goal.
One of the main attractions of working for yourself is the prospect of being able to gain a bit more control over your work life. This means you can tie in your life goals with your business goals. Want to save up some money and go travelling for six months? Align your personal ambitions with your business goals, such as increasing revenue, or hiring reliable employees to leave your business with whilst you’re off snorkelling in Australia.
Remember – goal setting doesn’t always have to be boring, but it should be effective. If you don’t think your goals are working for you, take time out to rethink your ambitions; it’ll help you in the long-run to help keep your business on track.
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