The Balance
By Susan Ward

Goal setting is an important exercise for everyone, including small business owners. Without goals, what would you be working toward? Setting goals for yourself and your business helps you to be proactive, instead of just being reactive. Goals will help you remember the bigger picture of what you want to achieve with your business, even when the going gets tough. Not sure where to start setting goals? Keep reading.

Key Takeaways

  • Setting goals is a great way to build your business and grow it to where you want it to be.
  • To set goals, consider where you’re at now with your business and where you want to be. Then, write down every step needed to achieve that end goal.
  • Hold yourself accountable, celebrate milestones, and understand the challenges you may face in working toward your goals.
  • Hard work, discipline, and dedication will help you achieve your small business goals.

How To Set Goals
Setting goals starts with defining what you want to achieve. For example, if your goal is to “grow your business,” that’s great. But you need to be more specific—and you’ll need a plan.

Start by writing down goals that are SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Goals that fit into this format will be well thought-out. Using the example from earlier, if you want to grow your business, you could apply the SMART format to it make it better:

Specific: Grow your business profits from $80,000 per year to $120,000 per year
Measurable: Sell $10,000 of merchandise per month
Achievable: Create a website so you can sell your products online and not just in store
Relevant: Advertise your new website and products on social media and Google, increasing your customer base and growing your audience
Time-Bound: Achieve the goal in 12 months

Taking Action on Your Goals
If you have a specific goal but do not take action to achieve it, you’ll never get there.
What’s missing from this scenario is a goal-setting strategy to help you accomplish the goal you have set. Without a goal-setting strategy or series of actions that you are going to use to work toward the goal, there’s no real chance that you’ll achieve it. And if you do, it’s probably luck.
To be successful in business, you need to make things happen, not just let things happen.

Do five things every day that help you get closer to your end goal. If you break down the large end goal into much smaller, more manageable bite-size goals, it’ll feel like you’re making real progress every day.

Stick to the Strategy
So when you’re setting business goals (or any other goals), use a goal-setting formula that incorporates a strategy or strategies for accomplishing the goal—like the SMART one above.
For example, suppose that you want to increase sales. When you’re setting this goal, don’t just write, “I will increase sales.” This goal is too general.
First, specify the goal: “I will increase sales this month by 25%.” Setting a specific goal builds in the criteria you will use to evaluate your success. In this case, at the end of the month, you’ll either have increased sales by 25% compared to the previous month, or you won’t.
Then, specify the strategy that you will use to work toward accomplishing the goal: “I will increase sales this month by 25% by offering a sale on all inventory. I will advertise this sale on social media, through coupons, and on search engines.”

  • Every goal you set needs to follow this basic goal-setting formula:
    Set a specific goal
  • Define the actions and strategy you’ll follow to get there
  • Hold yourself accountable to making it happen by putting in hard work

You can have both short- and long-term goals for your business. A short-term goal may be one you achieve in three to six months, while a long-term goal may have an end date one, two, or five years from now.

Achieving Your Goals, and Setting More for Your Business
What happens when you go beyond the basic step of goal setting? Evaluating your success or failure is easy because your goal is specific rather than general. And suddenly, instead of just having one goal that you may or may not achieve, you have several goals and a specific plan to follow to achieve them. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, you’ve set yourself up for success.

  • After you achieve your first goal, you may want to set more, like:
    Get 100 more clients
  • Sell products in other countries
  • Open a second physical location
  • Attend trade shows to grow your network and secure partnerships
  • Increase revenue by 50%

Just remember: Make them specific, actionable, measurable, and relevant, and set a time frame to hold yourself to achieving the goal in a timely manner.





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