The beginning of a new year is always an interesting time. You are often feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and excited about the year ahead, and perhaps also inspired to think about what you want to accomplish. It is also a time of reflection on the year that has passed. Did you accomplish what you had set out to do? Did something in your business work well that you’d like to duplicate? Did something not go as planned, and you’d like to make an adjustment for the future?
Heidi and I held an all day strategy session on Monday where we discussed some goals for PH for 2015. We have been working with a business coach to help us develop a more comprehensive plan for our company, and we had lots of homework to do and many items to discuss! We didn’t get through it all in one day (we have another session set for next week!) but overall I’m happy that we are making progress as I’m a huge believer in setting goals and then checking in and tweaking as you go.
Someone special in my life has ingrained in me since I was young “if you don’t have goals, you won’t get where you want to go”. It’s a philosophy that when I was younger I didn’t give much credit to, but now as I grow and develop as a person, mother and business owner, I truly feel the significance of these simple words and I try to live by them.
Whether it’s setting a simple goal such as getting a task accomplished by the end of the day, a more ambitious goal like wanting to train for a marathon, or something more complex like setting strategic long term goals for your organization, without setting the goal in the first place how would you ever be able to set out on the path to achieving it??
Given that it’s the beginning of the year, we thought it might be a good time to pass along some tips on how to go about setting good, tangible goals. Before you even get started, it’s important that you are first feeling motivated to set, and reach, these goals. Without this motivation, you are likely to fall back into old habits or lose sight of the end goal. Try to think about what the benefit of reaching these goals will be: building your business, making more money, or freeing up time to spend with your family because you have successfully delegated some tasks to other people or other companies.
Feeling motivated? Here is a how-to process for setting goals, and it all starts with 5 simple letters: SMART.
All goals must be S.M.A.R.T.
1. Specific – Clearly define what you want to accomplish.
Is it specific? Have you clearly stated what you wish to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish this goal? Also ask yourself why this goal is important to you? It is sometimes easiest to start with a general goal or objective and then move into the finer details or specific tasks that might be needed to accomplish the larger goal.
2. Measurable – Identify targets and milestones to track your progress.
Is it measurable? If you have not made it measurable and set yourself clear targets and milestones, you will have no way of checking to see if you are going in the right direction. It can be very frustrating to find that you have ploughed ahead on a series of tasks only to discover that you should have made a course correction weeks back.
3. Attainable – Your goal is realistic and manageable.
Is it attainable? Make sure you give yourself the opportunity to reach the goal. You could break each goal down into smaller tasks and make sure you have the time and resources available to meet the timeline you have set for yourself. Setting unrealistic goals will only set you up for failure, and nothing is more defeating then never attaining your goals.
4. Relevant – Identify a goal that fits with your business or overall philosophy.
Is your goal relevant? Your goal should fit with your business, your mission statement if you have one, or your market, client base or industry.
5. Time-Based – Identify a specific period of time for the goal.
Does your goal need to be achieved by a certain date? Make sure that you set a realistic time-frame for your goal, and you must set a deadline! It is often tempting to leave a goal open-ended, but the danger is that you will never actually achieve it and then give up because it hasn’t worked or because you’ve now decided that goal setting is a waste of time!
What sorts of goals might be appropriate for your business?
• Writing a business plan – it doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but it is important to make sure that you are not setting yourself up for failure.
• Ways to improve your bottom line – whether it be ways to increase profitability or ways to reduce your company costs, or looking at ways to improve your cash flow.
• Becoming more productive – this is very important for small business owners. Learn how to use your time efficiently and effectively. There are many tasks that, although not profit centre activities, directly affect your ability to become profitable as they take you away from core business functions (for example manually doing your payroll each month).
• Making use of technology – there are many free or economical programs on the market these days which can be used to assist with aspects such as accounting, billing, and task management. These programs can greatly reduce admin time, giving you the opportunity to concentrate on your core business goals.
We hope that this inspires you to set a meeting with your company’s key players, your employees, or maybe even your family, to set some SMART goals for 2015. We wish you the best of luck in setting and achieving these goals, whatever they may be!