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Last Updated on May 6, 2021

10 Simple Yet Powerful Business Goals to Set This Year

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10 Simple Yet Powerful Business Goals to Set This Year

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

I personally think it’s best to assess and establish business goals during the first quarter of the new year in order to stay motivated and commit to your goals. 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 business 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, and I’ve seen 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 you 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? Are you lacking 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, now is the time to consider hiring some as part of your business goals. 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, so delegate them out to others to save yourself time and energy.

3. Reduce Expenses

Running a lean business should be the goal of every entrepreneur. After all, every dollar saved in business expenses 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 you’re 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 when setting business goals. You need to know what areas are working right and what areas need improvement.

Look at the entire customer service 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 with short-term goals and a detailed business plan.

5. Get More Traffic 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 recently, take some time to give it some attention. Make sure it’s pleasing to the eye, easy to navigate, and constantly updated with all the latest information and helpful hints.

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.

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I see a lot of companies (especially smaller ones) using a shotgun approach to their business goals related to 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, and if you’re 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[1].

Analyze and evaluate every aspect of your marketing budget. Eliminate the worst performing (in terms of ROI) 20% of your marketing efforts, and use that money to expand the 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 goals 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[2]. Things like public recognition, lunch with the boss, or 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.

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.

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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. This is why including personal goals within your business goals is so important.

If you’re not eating right and exercising, start taking an hour out of your day.

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.

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?
  • What is the specific number (or percent) that I want to increase sales, market share, profit, or 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 business 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 year’s 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 actually hurt the business?

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Related to your personal life, will attaining a goal mean more time away from family? Are your relationships already strained?

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 business goals; 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.

Without deadlines, you’re also prone to procrastination. If you find that this has become an issue, check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

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 with specific business goals, you can be sure your competition is.

More Practical Tips for Entrepreneurs

Featured photo credit: Ruthson Zimmerman via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

David Carpenter

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

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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