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How to set your top 5 business goals for next year

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It’s a great time to create your business objectives for next year and think actionably about what you want to achieve. One excellent way to do that is by setting SMART goals. Some variations exist about what the acronym stands for, but people commonly agree that SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based.

Following the SMART framework prevents you from choosing overly vague objectives, making it difficult to tell if you’re progressing. Here are some helpful ways to set your top five business goals for next year while keeping the SMART method in mind. 

    1. Include Your Approach to Achieving the Goal

As you iron out your SMART goals, don’t stop at merely thinking about the milestones to meet. Go further by mapping out what you’ll do to turn those aspirations into realities. Maybe you want to get three new clients for your pet-grooming business within two months. In that case, referrals from current customers, a dedicated social media push and a coupon campaign could help you succeed.

When a SMART goal includes what you plan to do, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed. You’ll instead feel ready to spring into action with activities that support your aims. 

    1. Consider the Employee’s Likelihood of Achieving the Goal

Some of your SMART goals will probably include individual employees, and that’s a good thing. However, you’ll want to strike a balance so that the person feels challenged but not overwhelmed. If an individual just came on board as your social media manager two weeks ago, it’s probably out of reach to expect them to get a 50% jump in shared posts by the end of next month.

Consider sitting down with the employee in question and collaborating to come up with some goals the person can feasibly achieve. This meeting is also an excellent time to determine if the worker needs anything to increase their chances of meeting the milestone. Could a training course or a new tool improve their outcomes?

    1. Tie Your SMART Goals to KPIs

Your business may already have some key performance indicators (KPIs) that you periodically track to see where your business stands. They may relate to items sold, the number of customers marking themselves as highly satisfied on surveys or your average delivery times. Since a SMART goal should have a measurable component, you can use your KPIs as guidance.

Look at trends within the KPIs and see what you want to achieve. Then, try to create a SMART goal that directly relates to at least one KPI. That’s an excellent way to ensure that whatever you choose is easy to measure and relevant to your business. 

    1. Make Department-Specific SMART Goals

Similarly to how you can create SMART goals for individual employees, you may also want to do that for departments within your business. That approach works particularly well when you’re restarting your business. Maybe you closed due to COVID-19 restrictions and can safely open now. Perhaps you put the enterprise on hold to pursue another priority, such as earning a degree or raising a child. 

In cases like those, aim to have a SMART goal for each department, along with the ones you make for employees or other individuals associated with your company. Doing that reduces the chances of certain business segments doing exceptionally well while others falter. Examine the results every month, quarter or year to see what’s changed and if you should tweak goals to make them more appropriate. 

    1. Consider Letting Customer Feedback Guide Your Goals

What your customers say about the company may clarify how to go about setting SMART goals. If you feel stuck when trying to create them, search for evidence of people bringing up suggested improvements. For example, maybe you sell handwoven scarves, and customers wish the products came in more colors.

In that example, you could set a SMART goal to introduce three new hues within the next six months. One of the major advantages of tuning into what your customers say is that you can assure them you care about their thoughts. You could even include phrases like, “You asked, and we delivered” when marketing your new options. 

    1. Recognize That You May Need Outside Assistance

It’s natural if your first inclination is to set goals that your business can achieve with its current resources. You may believe that reaching those aims will feel more rewarding if you meet them with internal, current team members. However, that mindset could introduce restrictive limitations by hindering your growth potential. 

Contracted service providers can also promote efficiency. For example, working with a packaging company dramatically reduces lead-to-market time due to the specialized equipment and existing facilities. Outsourcing gives your enterprise more flexibility, helping it keep pace with changing demands or specific customer requirements. Explore how to make outsourced companies part of your SMART goals, and know that those parties could help your business excel.

    1. Maintain an Appropriate Amount of Adaptability

No matter when you started your business, you probably learned that some things don’t go as planned, no matter how much you work to make circumstances favorable. For example, you may set a goal to shorten average online delivery times by 25% within the next three months. You might later see that aspects outside of your control make it virtually impossible to improve to that degree within the timeframe. 

Any SMART goal should take into account that it’s inevitable for some things to go differently than expected. That reality does not mean you failed, but it does emphasize why it’s crucial to revisit your SMART goals regularly and change them as needed. Do everything in your power to meet the target while accepting that some things outside of your influence may negatively impact if you arrive at the selected milestone on time.

    1. Think Beyond Your SMART Goals When Assessing Gains

SMART goals generally work well by giving people clearly defined targets that support the future of a business. However, some company owners make the mistake of looking solely at those aims when learning how an enterprise performed over a given period. As you set your top five goals this year, make sure to go outside their boundaries when you appreciate your company’s high points. That way, you keep an accurate perspective and maintain high morale. 

Maybe you set a SMART goal about your website’s bounce rate but didn’t meet it by the chosen deadline. You might look closer at website statistics and find that the leads generated through your website rose by 30% since the last time you checked them. Even if you didn’t have a SMART goal about website leads, that progress is worth celebrating. You can also attempt to figure out what caused you not to meet the SMART goal, then adjust it before trying again. 

    1. SMART Goals Solidify Success

If you often feel that your business is doing well but can’t get specific, SMART goals can give you a vital framework. Use these tips to set them for next year and look forward to enjoying more motivation and purpose.

About Lexie Lu

Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she's not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner

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