Top Ten Ways to Set Achievable Goals for the New Year


If you want your business to be a success this New Year, you need to first define what that means. You cannot measure your success without a target, and that starts with goal setting.

All business owners – in fact, all of us, have a broad sense of what it means to set goals. Especially during this time of year, these usually take the form of ‘resolutions’ that unfortunately often get forgotten by mid - February! The reason? Because many of us tend to be very unrealistic when it comes to goal setting. As detrimental as that can be to us individually, setting the bar too high can be fatal to a small business in need of growth.

The key to business goals is not only to set them, but to set ‘achievable goals’. The biggest difference between a ‘resolution’ and a ‘goal’, is that a resolution is something you make with the best of intentions, but it usually is nothing more than a wish – without any kind of plan. An ‘achievable goal’ on the other hand, is not only something you want as a desired outcome, but also something you have put some concrete planning into in order to bring it into being.

So the first ‘Top 10’ of 2013is actually split into two ‘Top Fives’ – 5 Ways to Set Achievable Goals – and 5 Achievable Goals That Could Benefit Almost Any Business.

Good luck, and Happy New Year!

5 Ways to Set Achievable Goals

1. Business Goals Should be Relevant

Business owners sometimes make business goals that serve little practical purpose. To be relevant, a business goal should be profitable in some way. That doesn’t mean that every goal needs to be measured in dollars and cents, but should be ‘profitable’ in doing something specific to stimulate growth.

2. Business Goals Should be Concrete and Actionable

Another common mistake is setting goals that are too vague or abstract. For example, setting a goal to ‘improve our customer service’ sounds good - but what specific steps are you going to take to accomplish that? Instead, the goal should read, ‘Improve customer service by implementing customer satisfaction survey and reacting to results.’

3. Set Long Term Business Goals That Can be Broken Down Incrementally

You need to dream big and set your goals for the long term, but set goals that can be broken down to intermittent steps and sub-goals. This will help you develop a specific road map with milestones towards achieving that goal.

4. Set a Timeline for Your Business Goals

This follows the last tip. By setting up an incremental timeline of actionable steps and achievements towards your long term goal, it will make it easier to both start and cross the finish line.

5. Business Goals Need to be Measurable

It is critical that any business goals you set are easily quantifiable. For instance, setting a goal such as, “I want to build my company’s social media presence” is not the same as saying, “I want to get 1000 ‘likes’ on Facebook over the next 60 days, so that means I need at least 16 new likes per day...”

Many business gurus have broken the above five business goal setting concepts into the memorable acronym - SMART. In business, “SMART” goal setting needs to be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed.

1. Decide to Make Meetings More Productive

Stop wasting time in meetings. Every meeting needs to have a clear agenda. One CEO has put this sign in every one of his conference rooms: “If the purpose and desired outcome of this meeting are not clearly stated within the first five minutes, please walk out–you have my permission.” Simply put, to have more productive meetings, just like your goals, the meeting needs to have a clear desired outcome. Start each meeting with this question: “What does success look like for this meeting?” And end it with, “What are the next actions and who needs to take them?”

2. Improve Team Building

Get your employees to focus on common goals with improved team building. If you are not sure how, find my article on team building exercises in our archives!

3. Raise Capital

Set an achievable goal of doing things that will make your firm more attractive to investors. Even in hard times, investors are interested in innovative and growing companies. General Partner at the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Chi-Hua Chien, suggests you can do this by being able to “dream big and execute small.” Chien states, “You want to be sure you can dream a compelling dream but at same time be able to execute small, such as building the right features for a product or hiring the right people.” Most small-business owners can do one of those things, says Chien, but those who are able to do both are more likely to attract investments.

4. Give Back and Be A Better Corporate Citizen

Set a goal to give back to the community and be a better corporate citizen this year. It doesn’t have to be huge – hold a fundraiser for a worthy charity, sponsor a little league team, or run a beach clean up. Just show your community that you are part of it and you care – the PR payoff can be enormous.

5. Put Customers First

This should be a no-brainer, but set the goal of superior customer service and implement it in EVERYTHING you do, from your branding to your hiring practices. If you have not already done so, implement customer surveys, and listen to their feedback.