There’s no better feeling than when you’re crushing your goals, especially when those goals equal success in your business.
We all know 2024 is likely to be a difficult year economically with rising energy prices and the cost of living squeeze putting a serious dampener on consumer spending. Setting business objectives can provide the focus you need to tackle the year head-on.
The important thing, however, is to pick goals you can realistically hit and which will drive your business where you want it to go even in the face of a challenging economic climate.
What are business goals?
Business goals are specific targets your organisation expects to achieve within a given timeframe. They can be defined for your entire business, for specific departments, teams or individuals.
Business goals are usually SMART which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Why are business goals important?
A business without measurable goals is a bit like a ship without a rudder. Business goals provide clear direction and create achievable targets. They give you and your employees something meaningful to strive for and something to get excited about. Companies that don’t put them in place tend to stagnate.
Setting goals will give you clear direction and help you define what’s important to you and your business. They also help you measure your progress and keep you accountable.
Important questions to ask yourself before setting business goals
Before you set your goals for 2024, it helps to ask yourself a few questions to narrow your focus and decide what’s really important for your business.
Why did you start your business?
It’s so easy to forget your why when you’re bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of business but it really helps to reflect on why you started your venture in the first place. Did you want to build a strong local business and keep it within your family? Did you plan to scale and grow it nationwide? Did you want to reach a particular target market or bring a specific product to a new market? Did you do it because you wanted a better work/life balance?
Whatever the reason, get to your company’s original purpose because ultimately your goals should reflect and support that.
What are your long-term goals?
Having an overarching ultimate goal for your business is essential but it’s also important to remember it might not be achieved in months or even years. Your targets require long-term thinking to keep you focussed and striving for the future but at the same time, you shouldn’t press upon your employees your long-term goals as it could impact morale - stick instead to short-term, measurable targets and objectives.
Am I tracking my short-term goals?
Short-term goals are great for measuring your progress but if you’re not tracking them correctly you’ll never know how far you’ve come. Your short-term goals, whether they’re daily, weekly or monthly, should be specific, and measurable with set timelines and clear markers of success. As a business, it’s these objectives you should be focussing on and tracking frequently.
Do I have a strategy for my goals?
Once you’ve set your goals don’t attempt to achieve them all at once as again this can be overwhelming and lead to failure. Instead, analyse your objectives, evaluate what resources you have available to achieve them and plan how you’ll tackle them in priority order.
If things aren’t going quite to plan don’t be afraid to reassess and alter timelines and targets.
Have I asked my employees?
When you set business goals, asking staff for their input can prove invaluable. They know better than anyone what can be achieved in a given time frame and by inviting them to be part of the goal-setting process you not only receive well-informed suggestions, you empower them in your business too. This sense of ownership can encourage them to succeed and work harder.
How will I celebrate the victories?
A little praise goes a long way so be vocal about even the smallest of achievements. If you don’t bother to congratulate your staff on the little wins, they’ll quickly become demotivated and it will make it much harder to reach your bigger goals.
How you thank your staff for hitting targets is up to you. It might involve acknowledging their success at a company meeting or taking them out to lunch to celebrate a fantastic sales month. Just remember, it’s the gratitude and appreciation you show which is most important.
Examples of important business goals to consider
If you’re looking for some business goal ideas Square have got you covered. These suggestions can be applied to many businesses by adjusting them to your circumstances.
Improve your sales performance
Improving sales is a common goal but how do you get there? Consider how much you want to increase it by and what date you want to achieve it. Do you want to focus on company income, number of products sold, sales per employee and so on? Do you want one end date, say six months or a year and how will you track it across that period? Using automated inventory management and tracking sales through Square can help you keep a close eye on company performance.
Create a better work/life balance
Building work/life balance into your employee schedules has become increasingly important in recent years for reinforcing positive mental health, productivity and morale. Employee burnout can have a serious impact on your employees and your business.
Increase your online presence
Social media is an integral part of the marketing mix and improving business sales may involve more marketing across the different platforms. You could measure this through the number of posts published, engagement received, number of followers, or sales through the platform.
Plan your finances
Financial forecasting and budgeting are important in every business but many small business owners don’t do it because they’re busy firefighting daily pressures. Taking time out to organise business finances and setting specific financial targets can help you reach your long-term goals, as can having a robust accounting system to track your progress.
Create a better company culture
Company culture is sometimes harder to define than sales goals for example, but improving it can have a direct impact on your sales. Happy employees are more productive and less likely to leave which reduces your employee churn. You can develop specific targets around company feedback, rewarding employees, workplace improvements and incentives, and perks to build an improved environment for your staff.
Build a better employee recruitment process
Better growth is achieved through talented staff so undertaking an audit of your current recruitment process should give you a good idea of how thorough it is. If you’re regularly losing staff or struggling to fill vacancies, then you know there is work to be done. Recruitment metrics will vary from business to business but you might set targets around the number of new employees you take on over a set period, onboarding procedures and staff turnover rates.
When you set business goals you set yourself up for success. Make 2023 the year you create some serious goals and move closer towards your ultimate business dreams.