“Keeping a resolution isn’t a 100-yard dash. It’s a marathon.”
John Norcross, University of Scranton
Are you a “resolutioner”? New Year’s Day is only five weeks away. This a time when many of us start to think about our goals, the things in life we wish we did better, the things we want to achieve, the places we want to go. Unfortunately, many of us start out as resolutioners, with incredible enthusiasm in January, only to see that enthusiasm wane by early February.
Whether in your personal life, or in your business, sticking to a resolution requires more than good intentions. You need a plan, with specific, realistic and measurable goals and a timetable to reach those goals.
Goals aren’t just a “nice to have” or an exercise to keep coaches and consultants employed. They are absolutely paramount to help you define and achieve success for your small business. Clearly defined targets help you laser line your efforts to reach them. You’ll know when to push harder, when to focus your efforts on a specific task, and when to step back, admire your accomplishments and celebrate.
In my role as a consultant, I find that there is nothing more disheartening than meeting someone who is busy all the time but still isn’t making any money. When you identify that sales are slow, it’s easy for you to see the correlation when profits are non–existent. However, if you open your shop every day, work hard to meet the needs of 50 customers daily, and still don’t make any money, it may be harder to see the problem. If you have 50 customers, but actually need 70 to break even, you will never make money. You need to understand your own business case and define realistic benchmarks that you can work toward.
There are a number of types of goals:
Sales Goals: Your sales goal is a mix of your break even point and your target profit margin. Every good entrepreneur should know the critical break event point needed to achieve to keep the business operating in the black. Most of us, however, are not in business to break even. We want to make a profit. You need to know the exact number of sales you need to reach your profit goal.
New Client Goals: Growing your sales pipeline involves adding brand new clients to your existing roster. Set regular goals on the number of new clients you are trying to bring. Choose a specific prospect by name and work to land the client you really want.
Repeat Client Goals: Don’t take your repeat customers for granted. They know your product, they have been happy with your work. You know if they paid their bill on time. Intentionally fostering and growing your relationship will keep your business on track. Find ways to reward your current clients and set goals related to increasing the frequency at which they place orders and/or the size of each order.
New Initiative or Project Goals: Goals exist beyond just sales and orders. A goal may also represent a project or initiative you want to implement. There may be a new computer system you want in place, a new piece of ad creative you want to put into the market, or a meeting room that needs to be painted. Setting these goals intentionally can help ensure they aren’t lost in the hustle and bustle of running the other parts of your business.
Here are some tips:
- Define the benchmarks for your goals in ways that can be broken down and measured: “Close $6,000 in sales,” is less tangible than, “Close six deals with new clients of at least $1,000 each by December 2012”.
- When you set a target, follow the fundamental principles of goal setting. Provide clear plans on how you can and will achieve it. Identify the budget, time allocations and resources required, and define the measureable outcome.
- Set goals on various timelines. Big picture goals, such as, “open three locations in Canada by the end of 2016,” are great for long-term planning, but do little to guide our efforts in day–to-day operations. That big future goal likely has hundreds of more closely attainable ones that are just as important for paving the way in the short term.
Remember, your business is not a New Year’s Resolution. The consequences of not persevering to reach your business goals are greater than the consequences of giving up on your efforts to lose 10 pounds or master the guitar before January 14th. Create and re-visit your goals often. Be aware of the tasks you need to execute and plan time in your schedule for them. When you reach your goals, celebrate your successes, and start planning for round two.
Did you meet your goals in 2011? Have tips to share about how you succeeded? Tell us about it! At the end of the month we’ll submit all entries into a draw for a chance to win a voucher for one of our upcoming seminars (value $25).
And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for daily tips!