‘Tis the season for goal-setting—yet, after the year we’ve had, many business owners are at a loss when it comes to setting realistic goals for the new year. After all, our 2020 goals did not go as planned, and the forecast for 2021 is still up in the air.
Still, there’s no excuse to skip the goal-setting process this year. If anything, it’s more vital than ever to create a semblance of a road map that will keep you moving forward on the right track.
We spoke with creative professionals across the industry to see how they’re using the last weeks of 2020 to prepare for a more fruitful 2021. Here’s what they had to say.
Start early—but not too early.
“Goal-setting should definitely not be put off until January of the new year,” states Kevin Dennis, Owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services. “You always want to get a jumpstart on what your goal forecasting is for the following year, typically in November or early December to be safe. Alternately, you can’t start too early, since you’ll want to see how the remainder of the year plays out financially.”
Make an appointment with yourself.
Laura Maddox, Owner of Magnolia Celebrates, shares her approach: “We usually plan a goal-setting weekend for some time in the fall—generally as our events wrap up in late November. This weekend is dedicated to checking in on the past year’s goals, what was successful, and what presented new opportunities, as well as setting new goals for the following year. We generally set company goals for one year, five years, and ten years. This helps us to ultimately make a road map with smaller goals to reach our larger ones.”
Focus on your marketing strategy, especially this year.
“We evaluate our marketing and social media strategy to see where we can make changes and improve our online presence,” shares JoAnn Gregoli, Owner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli. “We talk to our marketing team via Zoom calls to see what the plan is and how to execute it. It’s not the time to stop marketing during COVID; it’s the time to increase your exposure to show clients that you are solvent.”
Use analytics to drive your goals.
“The first step is to gather all of the analytics from the year including the success or failure of marketing efforts and reviewing revenue numbers,” says Shannon Tarrant, Founder of WeddingVenueMap.com. “Our team gets together to talk about what worked, what didn’t, and brainstorm ideas for the next year. Then, our leadership team takes all of the ideas and data to develop the company budget for the future year which will include both revenues and expenses as well. From there, we finalize the goals we want to achieve.”
Turn goal-setting into a teambuilding activity.
“Team goal-setting makes goals achievable and ensures buy-in from the group,” explains Lisa Anhaiser, Owner of Creating the Map for Success. “As the owner, it is imperative that you have nailed down the needs of the company and firm parameters in which to operate before the team becomes involved. The team should bring needs, opportunities, and tactics to reach the company’s goals as it pertains to their own position and as a group. Each person needs to do their part to help the team; presenting opportunities to the group allows the company to reach its goals.”
Revisit wins and losses from the year.
Juls Sharpley, Owner of Bubbles & Bowties, reveals: “I look back at events and look for areas of improvement. I look back at lost sales opportunities and try to figure out who I lost to and why. I look at the clients I did book and assess why they chose to work with me. I look at the numbers of the business and search for opportunities to grow. I also take into account my work life balance and mental health.”
Consider operational changes for improvement.
“Outside of KPI numbers with regards to marketing and sales, income and expenses, I also evaluate how efficient our daily operations went,” explains Jamie Chang, Destination Wedding Planner and Owner of Mango Muse Events. “Taking a look at the kinds of tasks I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy and what I want to delegate in the future. I also evaluate our events for the year, how they went, and what I want to change for future events. I think it’s important to celebrate the things that went well in addition to looking at what could be better and letting both help shape what future goals look like.”
Set different types of goals.
Jordan Kentris, Founder and Creative Director of A Good Day, says: “When setting goals for the business, I like to set short, medium and long term goals with the occasional stretch goal if I’m feeling very ambitious in a category. I look to feasibility of the goal, how many clients or projects would I need to sell to hit it, what do I want to put forward in my product offering, and overall timing of where I think it fits into our project lifecycle. I am a firm believer in setting short-term goals that are easily attainable — I do that because celebrating small wins is a huge motivational boost for myself and the team throughout the year. That sense of accomplishment helps us push for the more ambitious targets.”
Allow yourself grace—and keep moving forward.
“I’ve seen resistance to goal-setting during the pandemic,” assures Michelle Loretta, Founder and Owner of Be Sage Consulting. “This is completely understandable given the survival mode that we have all been living in. My philosophy is this: don’t push it. Moving towards a goal requires strong energy to get things happening. Take a break.”
Loretta continues: “You will get to a place where you are ready to move forward with life. When you get there, focus on the short-term survival strategy to make it through the next year-ish of the pandemic. But, don’t be afraid to do that longer-term goal-setting. Post-pandemic dreaming is so important. What does your business look like when we are back to a more manageable reality? Plan for that!”
Goals drive our motivations and our actions, but they aren’t meant to be set in stone. Flexibility is key, particularly as we enter 2021; keep an open mind and accept that your progress may fluctuate in the year ahead. However, remember that we are in an unparalleled crisis situation—the smallest of steps (or even just surviving, if that’s your goal!) is what matters, so continue putting one foot in front of the other towards your future.