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Published on April 15, 2019

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.

View the Forest, Not the Trees

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.

10 Powerful Business Goals to Set for This Year

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

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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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How Do You Measure Success? Here’re 10 Better Ways

How Do You Measure Success? Here’re 10 Better Ways

“Larry is a failure at everything except life.”

That was a memorable line from a somewhat forgettable Ted Danson movie in the 1980s. Pithy, it did encapsulate one eternal truth, namely that life is the goal. Making the most of one’s limited time in this world is the core measure of success.

So how do you measure success?

Money is meaningless until you do something good with it. Fame is fleeting and tertiary at best. But life and how you live it – in business, in family, in everyday interactions – is the true measure of accomplishment.

The Inside and Outside of Success

Life occurs within and outside of you. The two – yourself and everyone else – are interconnected. Their lives, and thus their success, are influenced by you and your success which is influenced by them.

It becomes clear that any measure of “success” cannot be one dimensional. There are many metrics, but if a person looks only at those that directly affect them, then they lack a complete measurement. It is good to succeed in business, but it is important to succeed in life. The two are not mutually exclusive, and in some ways positively reinforcing.

10 New Ways of Measuring Success

For a Successful Business

In business, it is not always the bottom line that defines success. I won’t argue against it – profitability is the first rule of business, because unprofitable companies do not survive. Just beyond that are some success measurements that are nearly as important:

1. Hitting Your Goals

If you call “8 ball in the side pocket” and scratch, then you failed to hit your goal. Knowing and achieving your business goals is important.

But goals in business have many manifestations. Aside from profitability, some business goals include growing your market share, disrupting a market, having very high customer satisfaction rates, reducing product defects, and more, and more, and more.

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However, you cannot achieve your business goals unless you know what they are, communicate those goals to your employees, and measure the results. Many people in business are vague about their goals. They are not clear in making everyone in the company embrace the goals or checking on progress.

None of these success-generating steps is difficult, but success will likely not come without them

2. Growing Your Business

“Growth” is quite personal, even to an executive.

In this, a business is a bit like a child. As the business’s parent, you get a certain satisfaction in raising it, helping past the stumbling toddler years, seeing it blossom into adulthood, and ever expanding its horizons. In the process, you grow the lives and fortunes of your employees, your shareholders, your community and your country.

3. Low Turnover

According to an article in Forbes, the turnover rate is the highest it has been in a decade. My company, Micrel, had the lowest employee turnover rate in our industry, as well as having the highest “boomerang employee rate (people who left the company and decided to come back).[1]

This form of success is a reflection of the corporate culture you created. A bad culture creates a high turnover rate, and a good culture a low one.

4. A Well-Balanced Life

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, and often a jerk. The reason is that life is not work, only a part of it. A wealthy captain of industry that never takes long and relaxing walks holding the hand of a loving spouse is not a success.[2]

Measuring balance in your life is non-productive. But when you lack balance, it is easy to measure. The shortfall of joy, the failing health, the shattered marriages, the estranged children … these are the heavy weights placed on the wrong said of life’s scale, and they are a clear enough measure.[3]

5. Sharing Your Success with Others

Ebenezer Scrooge, and Jacob Marley before him, horded their wealth. It cost Marley everything.

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“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Sharing is perhaps the true measure of all success, be it a wealth of money, time, patience, knowledge, wisdom or good will.

For a Successful Life

Which brings us to the non-business side of the business life. As your business affects your personal life, so too does your personal life affect your business. The two cannot be separated. Some elements that should be on your success scorecard include:

6. Good Health

The enjoyment of life is at best incomplete in poor health. At worst, it is hellish.

Now take poor health outside of your body. How does being sickly affect your company (when you cannot lead fully), your family (their support and their stress over you), your community (when you can no longer serve)?

Good health is a gift unto itself, but also to everyone you touch. Don’t cheat anyone out of your good health. Do what is necessary to keep your machine in good working order as the first imperative toward success.

7. Healthy Family

Family is love and support. Every person’s role is to grow their family, to stay connected, to provide love and support. In that giving to others, you improve their lives while improving yours.

It also lays the groundwork for you receiving love and support when you need it. If you are launching a business and taking the risks that go along with it, you will need that love and support.

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8. Learn to do the Tough Things First

In or out of business, we are all faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But we humans have this funny knack of overcoming them.

Indeed, we do it so routinely that out sight miracles that go against nature – flight, the internet, leaving the planet on rocket ships – has become almost blasé.

None of these things were accomplished instantly. They were the result of many small successes. The ones that happened fastest were where a person or a team looked at all the problems, took on the biggest and toughest first, then conquered it. They did the Tough Things First, which made the rest of the project much simpler and more exciting for everyone.

This applies to daily life as well as business. If you are planning to relocate your spouse, several children, pets and all your worldly belongings across country, the task likely looks overwhelming. But the moment you prioritize the list of tasks, and knock the biggest and ugliest off the list, the rest seems like a cakewalk.

9. Being a Teacher

One of the highest compliments I ever received was from an industry analyst who said that I was a “teacher”.

Yet we all are, or can be, teachers. It may be providing basic life lessons to a child on your knee, instructing an employee in complex processes or technologies, or even teaching by example via living a good life.

For me, one joy has been writing a good book on management and leadership, and another about the intersections of people, society and business. It is by teaching, and in my case writing, that you directly benefit others.

Life can be complex, filled with many topics and problems. By sharing knowledge and wisdom, we lead others past difficulties and on toward their own greater success.

10. Dignity and Honor

My marketing director is a proper Southern Gent, which is easily discernible by a well-honed sense of honor. You don’t have to be a southerner to live a life of dignity and honor, but if you are male you do have to be a gentleman.

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Dignity circles around self-respect and honor involves acting with honesty, fairness, and integrity. The latter leads to the former. Indeed, you cannot have self-respect without practicing the basic virtues of honesty, fairness, and integrity.

Why is this a measure of success? Because we humans are social animals, and society exists only because of trust.

Honesty, fairness, and integrity are the cornerstones of trust, and thus the foundation of society. A person is truly successful when they add to society.

Final Thoughts

All this brings us back to the dictionary definition of “success”, which is:

“the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.”

You may or may not be a businessperson, but you are always a person. Your endeavors are both in and out of the office. Since each sphere affects the other, the true measure of success lies in how you managed your affairs in all facets of existence, for they cannot be viewed in isolation.

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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