Business growth comes in many forms, so setting goals requires you to first find clarity on the path that’s right for you. Does it mean doubling your revenue from the year prior? Or will expanding your team move the needle in the right direction? Listen to your intuition and think about the accomplishments that make sense for your business.
No matter how you envision the future, clear goals allow you to back-plan by creating intentional steps to achieve your definition of success. But setting goals is only one step of the process—you must work towards them if you want to see your business grow.
If you’re ready to elevate your business, follow these best practices to set goals that aren’t just SMART but targeted explicitly towards your preferred avenue of growth and are supported by action steps to help you get there.
Establish your launching pad for growth.
First things first, you have to know where you currently stand in your business. Run through your numbers and take stock of your financials, your team, your sales stats, and other indicators that define the health of your business.
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Reflect on what has been going well, what hasn’t, and the growth opportunities available. This exercise provides you with a baseline to establish your starting point and track progress, so you can set reasonable goals and benchmarks for success.
SMART goals are smart for a reason.
You’ve undoubtedly heard about SMART goals on many occasions, and with good reason! There’s no question that the quickest way to see growth is by setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals.
But if this framework feels like a lot at first, start with a basic goal like increasing your revenue. From there, begin optimizing it with SMART details, such as how much you want to earn and when you expect to achieve it.
Invite your team into the discussion.
As the leader of your company, you must be the visionary that shows your team the way to success. By engaging them in your vision, you’ll help them invest in your shared future and get on board with the direction you’re heading in. You’ll also find that employees can offer fresh perspectives and meaningful feedback that open you up to new ideas you may have never considered.
Ultimately, your “why” is what ties everything together for your team. Why is this goal important? There is no “just because” in business—every goal must have intention and purpose. Otherwise, you’ll find it hard to keep your team motivated and moving in the same direction—especially in more challenging times.
Remember: Incremental growth is still growth.
We often see goals as all-or-nothing accomplishments. Either we achieve it fully, or it doesn’t count at all. But that’s not the case! Instead of this limiting mindset, create benchmarks to highlight the progress you’ve made, even if it’s not 100%.
For example, if you aim to hit $250,000 in annual revenue, you might set milestones for $125,000 (50%), $187,500 (75%), and $225,000 (90%). Even if you don’t meet your goal to its fullest, you can (and should) still celebrate the progress you’ve made along the way!
Set the intention to revisit your goals regularly.
Once you’ve set your goals, make it a point to revisit them regularly to keep them top-of-mind. Develop monthly or quarterly action steps as an opportunity to check in on your progress throughout the year and readjust as needed.
Remember: You can set goals and revisit them at any time of year! Don’t limit it to an annual start-of-the-year activity. If something comes up mid-year that changes your business’s direction, let yourself make a new goal for it! Your business’s future is not set in stone, so your goals shouldn’t be either.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Holding yourself accountable is hard at times, so consider finding an accountability partner to help you stay on top of your goals. It could be a business partner or a close friend who understands what you do as an entrepreneur.
It doesn’t require a lot of effort on either part; rather, a monthly or quarterly check-in to discuss progress will suffice. The simple knowledge that someone is waiting to hear about your business’s progress will maintain motivation and push you to reach for those goals harder!
Allow yourself grace and flexibility.
A big part of being realistic with your goals is accepting that you won’t reach every single objective you set out to accomplish! Life is messy, and some things are beyond your control—like a global pandemic turning the world upside down.
But sustained motivation is a matter of mindset, and permitting yourself to adjust goals is crucial for staying on track and avoiding burnout. You can step back and decide to ask less of yourself or push a goal’s deadline further out. If you need more time, give it to yourself! If you want to see your goals through to the end, you must be prepared to refocus them based on your current situation.
So, let’s stop viewing goal-setting as an annual exercise and, instead, see it as an ongoing process meant to evolve alongside your business. After all, our vision of success shifts as we continue to grow and our goals need to be flexible to account for those changes, too.