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December 1, 2015

By Sarah Julian

Do you know where you want your business to be this time next year? Can you envision what it’s going to take to get there? Aiming for a bigger tomorrow means putting thought and intention into your definition of success for the year to come and identifying the goals you will need to accomplish to get there. Goal setting can have a huge impact on your ability to bring about the vision you have for your business. It is a skill you need to have to inspire, empower and challenge your team to do better than they’ve ever done. By understanding how to set effective business goals, you will set the stage for a bigger and better 2016.

Look Ahead

When setting goals for next year, it’s imperative to consider those long-term goals. Where do you want your company to be in three, five or ten years? Are you positioning for sale? Will you be expanding into new categories? Will you increase distribution or have multiple retail locations? Having these kinds of visions will enable you to set effective annual goals and set you off on the correct path. What you accomplish this year, how you grow and the decisions you make will directly affect your ability to achieve long-term success, however you may have defined it.

Set “SMART” Goals

We’ve all heard it before: when setting goals make them specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely, or SMART. But it’s often hard to understand what that looks like in practice. For example, let’s try generating a larger email list as a starting goal. Understanding why you want to do this, if it matters to the success of your company and determine how many customers you need on the list to succeed.

Those are your very first defining factors.

Once we know if the goal is worth pursuing, then we make it SMART. To make it specific, we need to address the who, what and when of this goal:

The what: Growing our email list by 35 percent by creating gated assets.

The when: By the first quarter.

The who: Marketing these assets through our social media channels.

This goal is now specific, measurable and timely. Your next step will be to address whether it is attainable with the time, budget and talent you currently have and if it is realistic given any other priorities that will be competing for those same resources.

Get Buy In

From top to bottom, the people that you have brought into your company will be the united force behind your success. Hopefully you have surrounded yourself with smart, passionate, driven employees.

Harness their energy, ask for their ideas and input, and make sure that they believe in the vision you have for the company and the goals you have set to make it a reality.

Once you have your team aligned behind your goals, be sure to arm them with the resources to succeed. If they know they have the time, manpower and money to meet the goals, they can focus fully on smart, creative strategies and execution.

Write Them Down

We all know that conversations quickly disappear and that once an idea is spoken it can easily be forgotten. Therefore, you must put structures in place to remember and the easiest way to do this is to write them down. Each business goal should be documented and, ideally, should be the impetus for every objective in every department for the year. Companywide strategies should map back to these goals and they should be referred to and measured against in review sessions throughout the year.

Measure and Analyze

Set it and forget it is the worst kind of business strategy. Once you establish your goals for the year, they should become your team’s mantra – a driving force that underpins your daily activities. And although you know exactly where you want to go, you aren’t going to be able to account for every variable along the way. That is why it is important to hold quarterly meetings to measure the effectiveness of your strategies, the validity of your assumptions and the impact of any outside forces. As you and your team test and learn, your strategies may change, but your goals will remain a guiding force.

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