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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

10 Simple Yet Powerful Business Goals to Set This Year

10 Simple Yet Powerful Business Goals to Set This Year

We often times think of goal setting as something done when we first start a business or a new job. But the reality is, we need to be regularly setting new goals as well as monitoring the progress of past goals.

I personally like to assess and establish business goals during the first quarter of the new year. This allows for both you and your employees to have a clear understanding of what the expectations are over the coming year.

When deciding on what goals you will have for the year, don’t get bogged down in the minutia of figuring out every last detail of how you plan to get there. This is big picture stuff, your vision for what the organization should look like in a year.

This long term goal setting will serve as an overall framework for your short term planning. That short term planning is where you will lay out the individual steps necessary for achieving the goals.

That’s a long winded way of saying that you first need to figure out where you want to go before you plan the trip.

While no one list could apply to all businesses or all situations, these 10 goals have been a part of every successful business that I’ve been involved in.

1. Maintain a Healthy Budget

This trips up a lot of entrepreneurs. I’ve seen so many people start businesses without a financial plan.

Academics have coined a new technical term for this type of financial plan, they are calling it a “budget”. And if you don’t have one, then that’s your number one goal for the year.

Having a budget not only helps with tracking where your money is being spent, but it also allows your to analyze things like what type of advertising is working best for you.

How do your payroll expenses compare to the industry average? Are you spending too much or too little in commissions and bonuses? And God help you if you decide you need to get funding.

Going anywhere for funding (Bank, Investors, VC firms) without a professional budget will get you booted out of the office without a second look.

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2. Hire a Certain Number of Employees

If you don’t have any employees, maybe now is the time to consider hiring some. Trying to do everything yourself is the curse of the entrepreneur. We all try being the “Jack of all trades”, but we forget the rest of that saying, “but master of none”.

You can start by hiring someone to do all of the little tasks that have to get done but don’t contribute to the bottom line. These tasks take your attention away from growing the business.

One caveat here, don’t put anyone else in charge of marketing! You should always do the marketing and be the face of your business. Turning that part over to someone else is just asking for trouble.

3. Reduce Expenses

Running a lean business should be the goal of every entrepreneur. After all, every dollar saved in business expense is an extra dollar in your pocket. The problems arise when you begin to cut into areas that affect the bottom line.

For example, it’s always tempting to look at payroll first because it’s such a big expense in most businesses. But will cutting sales staff hurt sales? What about the shipping department or customer care? You might not feel the effects of those cuts right away, but if your not giving the customer the experience they expect, you will feel it down the road.

Try looking for other ways to reduce expenses. Try new software, change the implementation of your processes, and most of all, reduce debt!

4. Refocus on Your Customer

You should always be re-evaluating your relationship with your customer. You need to know what areas are working right and what areas need improvement.

Look at the entire customer experience. Are your customers happy with the product or service? Is your refund / exchange process easy to understand and use? If they have questions or need help is it easily accessible? Are you delivering your products in a timely manner?

No matter how good you currently are, vow to make the customer experience even better.

5. Get More Traffic to Your Website

There is never a reason you shouldn’t want more traffic going to your website. Even if you’re not generating sales from a website, increasing traffic is great for brand awareness.

If you haven’t updated your website in a while, now’s the time. Make sure it’s pleasing to the eye with all the latest information and helpful hints.

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6. Evaluate and Refine Your Social Media Marketing

This dove-tails nicely with the previous suggestion. Social media marketing, when done right, will generate traffic, leads and sales for your company.

Notice I said “when done right”. I see a lot of companies (especially smaller ones) using a shotgun approach to their social media marketing. They end up throwing a bunch of stuff up on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and hope that something works.

You need to have a strategy for social media. Your posts need to be consistent and on-message. It can be a lot to handle all at once. If you are not sure what you are doing, there are companies and individuals that will set up and manage your social media marketing for you.

7. Conduct a Marketing Audit

Marketing along with payroll and rent are the biggest expenses most businesses have. You want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your marketing buck.

Analyze and evaluate every aspect of your marketing budget. Eliminate the worst performing (in terms of ROI) 20% of your marketing effort’s and use that money to expand your top 10% of your best performing assets.

8. Develop or Improve Your Employee Incentive Program

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. Employees are the ones implementing the company’s policies and procedures. They are (usually) the ones interacting directly with the customer.

Keeping happy and motivated employees is the only way your business can thrive. Unfortunately, too many small businesses neglect this issue because of the perceived expense involved.

And while money is certainly a motivating factor for your employees, most people will respond to other types of incentives as well. Things like public recognition, lunch with the boss, flexible time off can all be used as incentives. Check out this article for 17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees.

9. Evaluate Your Company’s Mission Statement

This should be done on a yearly basis. Depending on how long your company has been around you may have not have even looked at your mission statement in years (if you even have one)!

Take the time to get it out, dust it off and make sure that it’s still relevant. I’ve consulted with companies that, when asked to do this, discover that the original mission statement described a completely different organization!

Over the course of years, as the business climate evolves and technology changes, there’s a good chance that your mission statement needs to be updated. If you want to know why a mission statement is important, see this article: How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

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10. Strive to Create a Better “Work Life Balance”

Being a successful entrepreneur means making sacrifices. You sacrifice the stability of a regular paycheck, time with your family, sleep and more, and while the rewards can be great, just make sure the costs aren’t too high.

Things like stress and anxiety will take a toll on your physical and mental health. Time away from spouses and family can cause tension that only adds to the stress level. You need to take evasive action before it can cause irreparable damage. If your not eating right and exercising start taking an hour out of your day. That hour won’t kill you but a heart attack will.

Carve out “family time” whether it’s one day a week, or an hour a night, your family needs to know that they are a priority. Have a scheduled “date night” with your spouse. Chances are you’re not the greatest company after working a 12-14 hour day, and making your spouse a priority is just part of the deal.

Making a conscious decision to prioritize your home life is like brushing your teeth. If you do it, they stay strong and healthy, if you ignore it, they go away. See these tips for maintaining a good work life balance: 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

Bonus Tip: Set S.M.A.R.T. Business Goals

When setting goals, we always recommend using the S.M.A.R.T. technique as it’s a very efficient way to both communicate and monitor your organization’s progress in achieving the goals you set. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting stands for:

Specific

What exactly do you want to achieve? The more precise you can be, the better. When answering this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the end goal?
  • How will achieving that goal translate into higher profits, increased market share, a better customer experience?
  • What resources will it take to achieve the goal? Money, Staff, Time, Training.
  • What is the specific number (or percent) that I want to increase sales, market share, profit, productivity?

Measurable

You should be able to break down your goals into individual steps or milestones that are easily qualified. There should be a way to concretely measure the success or failure of the goal.

  • Goal – Increase sales in Q-2 by 10%
  • Goal – Decrease year end expenses by 5%
  • Goal – All employees will have completed training in “X” by June 30th

Attainable

Having unrealistic or unattainable goals is just setting yourself and your employees up for failure. Now, if you are a one person operation, then by all means go ahead and set a goal to double last years sales. If you only increase sales 1.5 times, that’s still pretty good.

But putting unrealistic expectations on employees will only do one of two things. Either it will crush morale when goals can’t be met, or if you do this too often, your employees won’t take you seriously.

So think twice about setting a goal to double sales every month for a year.

Relevant

Is the goal something that you really want? Will attaining the goal actually help your business? Is it really a good idea to double your business if you’re already struggling to service the clients you have, or would you be actually hurting the business?

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And don’t forget about your personal life. Will attaining a goal mean more time away from family? Are your relationships already strained?

Know what’s important to your life as a whole.

Timely

Deadlines are important to motivation. I know from experience that if I’m not under a deadline to get something done, then I’m just going put it off as long as I can.

Setting deadlines solidifies the goal, after all, a goal without a deadline is just a wish.

Setting deadlines is really the only way to measure the success or failure of a goal. With that being said, deadlines must be reasonable otherwise you’ll run into the same problems we see when goals are not attainable.

The Bottom Line

Setting, evaluating and reassessing goals is a constant theme in business. Knowing the right places to allocate the right resources will keep your business thriving in an ever changing world.

Lou Holtz, the famous football player and coach said

“In this world, you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow.”

That statement is certainly true in today’s business climate. You need to be constantly on your toes looking for new and better ways of doing things.

Technology is moving a light speed, bringing new, better and faster ways to deliver products and services to the consumer. If you’re not innovating, you can be sure your competition is.

More Practical Tips for Entrepreneurs

Featured photo credit: Ruthson Zimmerman via unsplash.com

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David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

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