When you set your business goals for the year, are they realistic ones? Are you setting benchmarks that you could actually reach without drastic measures?
The thing is, every entrepreneur should not only set goals, but set good ones. And while dreams of doubling revenues and rapid expansion look great on paper, they're often unrealistic.
Instead of setting far-fetched objectives, set more reasonable goals around what you'd like to achieve in your business.
So where do you start? Let's talk decision-making first.
Deciding on Goals
Your goals need to be SMART. And no, that's not just a common sense statement. Here's what I mean:
Think about some goals you'd like to achieve this year, and see if they are SMART. From there, you can weed out the plans that may be too far-fetched and organize your goals based on urgency.
5 Ideas for SMART Goals
So, what are some reasonable goals an entrepreneur might set for him or herself that would fall within the SMART prerequisites? Here are a few ideas:
1. Increase Sales
Of course any entrepreneur wants to grow the sales and revenue for their business--but what's a reasonable growth rate? Some say that a meager 15% increase per year is worth celebrating. In fact, in five years, that annual 15% growth rate will mean you've doubled your company's size.
Rather than shooting for rapid growth rates, work toward slow and steady increases in sales that allow you to grow along with your business. Unless you're fully prepared for expansion on a large scale, growing too quickly can be a dangerous game.
2. Complete a New Website
Websites updates or re-designs often get pushed to the side because an entrepreneur is busy working for his or her business, not on it. Setting a time frame to get a website makeover means you can keep the project on a manageable scale without it overwhelming you completely.
Not sure what parts of your website need improving? Read this.
3. Hire a New Employee
This is a big step for any entrepreneur who has been a one-man show thus far. Maybe you've worked with freelancers or a virtual assistant in the past, but you're ready to bring on another team member on a full-time basis. Take your time with this process and really consider how this new employee will enhance your business.
4. Launch Your First Product
If your entrepreneurial endeavor has been as a service-provider, you likely trade your time for money. But maybe you're ready to productize your business and start making some passive income (as in, make money while you sleep.) This could be anything from a fantastic eBook to a training course that you market and sell through the connections you've established within your field.
5. Make Your Business Lean
If you're looking for ways to cut costs and reduce expenses within your business, a realistic goal would be to set a SMART goal for leaning out your operation. There are lots of ways you can go about doing this, but many people are fans of the Six Sigma model used by companies like Motorola and General Electric.
First Year Business Goals
If you’re planning for your first year in business, some of these goals might seem a little short on the “attainable and realistic” end. Your first year business goals will be a little different as you get set up and organized to launch your new company. Here are a few first year business goals to aspire to:
Set pen to paper. Write explicit plans for your business strategy. What’s your mission? How will you grow? Make it a goal for your first year to have everything planned out and articulated.
Build a website. It’s no secret that every business needs a website these days. But don’t just create a generic site — spend time building a website, in your first year, that speaks to your target customers and actually helps your business grow.
Streamline your processes. When you’re first starting, whatever works is what you do. Make it a goal for your first year in business to find the most efficient processes for everything from accounting to marketing — your next year self will thank you.
Plant the seeds of your referral engine. It’s never too early to be mindful about garnering customer referrals. Make it a first year business goal to wow your first few customers, and pretty soon you’ll have a lot more coming through the door.
The Best Goals are Reasonable Goals
You're an entrepreneur — and you know that no part of business involves rainbows and unicorns. Keeping reasonable goals means you're setting yourself up for success... not failure. Just remember: Keep them SMART!