The beginning of a new calendar year is a convenient time to set goals, yet they often get kicked to the curb by the end of January. It’s easy to think “New Years’ goals never get followed through anyway, so it’s okay.” Most small businesses have a calendar year for financial purposes; rather than considering your goals as “resolutions”, think of them as part of your business process. They are reviewed regularly, monitored, and adjusted as needed.
If you’re ready to set business goals that work, here are the steps I go through at the beginning of a new year (or anytime I set goals):
- Know where you are starting from. All too often, we look out to where we want to end up without looking down at our own feet, to understanding from where we are starting. Consider setting your GPS when you head out to a new destination; first thing you’re asked is, “what’s your starting point?” It can feel a bit scary to look under your financial covers but it’s usually not as bad as you fear. If you haven’t already, begin tracking your key metrics; the end of a calendar year is a convenient time to begin.
- Know what results you want for your business year. Where do you want to end up? Again, defining a route on your GPS requires a destination. While I’m all for “Big, Bodacious Goals”, your goals also need to be realistic, you need to be able to see yourself reaching your goals.
- Define your path. Once you’ve defined your starting point and your desired destination, define the most direct route. While you don’t need to know every step you will need to take, you do need to define the next step, and have a general understanding for possible further steps. My clients have heard “What’s the most logical next step?” from me again and again. Like in travel, there are many routes to your desired destination; there is one most logical path. Choose the next step along that path. Write an Action Plan, a bullet list, or have a little more fun and draw a map – just write it down.
- Define check-in points and milestones. Once you’ve created these milestones, you may need to tweak your path. Do you need to speed up? What support do you need along the way? If there is a milestone that you are particularly unsure of, define what additional support you will need to reach it – legal, financial, outside marketing expertise or coaching. Additional support needs are not cast in stone, but considering your needs ahead of time will keep your eyes and ears open for it when you see it.
- Mind set. Mind set, including mantras, belief statements, affirmations and intentions, cannot be your entire action plan, but a positive frame of reference must exist if you want to reach your goals. Find evidence that others have reached similar goals, find elements of your goal that you can easily see yourself reaching and focus on those smaller steps.
- Take action. No matter how big or small, just take action. I want you to push yourself to find the line between “OMG! I can’t do THAT!” and “Gulp. I don’t really want to take this step but I guess I can.” Take yourself to that edge repeatedly and you will move forward more quickly than you ever have before. You will be training yourself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable; your fearful self will learn that it’s okay to squirm a bit, that you will survive.
Goal setting, and mapping out strategy, is not a new year’s activity but a recurring business practice. If you’ve decided that you want different results in 2016, begin your year with a new goal setting process. Get started on your worksheet below!