Set Specific Goals

Setting goals is important.  That is how you convert abstract IDEAS (i.e. cut expenses, increase sales) into specific, concrete TARGETS (i.e. reduce G&A by 5% before the next stockholder meeting, increase sales of retail brands by $60,000 per quarter, etc.).

Make the goals bold, but don’t be overly concerned about whether or not you can achieve them.  This is the time to “draw the line in the sand” and commit to what you want to do this year.

Don’t make your goals too easy.  If you set easy goals, such as to maintain expenses at the previous year’s level, or increase sales by a modest 2% , you may achieve the goals but fail to satisfy yourself.  Worse than that, by failing to commit to real growth you will give your competitors the edge.

If you set difficult but reasonable goals, it won’t really matter if you don’t achieve them completely.  The effort and incentive to reach these goals will push you harder, make you use your resources more effectively and show you just how much you can do when you really focus on a specific target.

Better yet, you will probably surprise yourself and get pretty close to achieving your goals.  You may even surpass them.  And your reward will be greater than financial success alone.  You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you really are the best; a viable competitor in the business world.

Make Your Goals Measurable

In setting goals, it is important to be as specific as you can.  You know your business better than anyone and you know what your people can achieve.  You are also the only one who knows what is the most important to you.  So you must set your goals and then communicate them to everyone else.

The more specific and more measurable your goals, the easier it will be to communicate them-and to acknowledge them when you reach them.

For example, if your goal is simply “to increase sales” how can you tell if you are really succeeding?  If your January sales figures exceed those of last year, have you truly met your goal or do the figures reflect some other variable in the marketplace such as weather?  You may also find that one month sales are up and the next month they are down.  In short, the goal is too vague.

On the other hand, if your goal is “to increase for each region by at least 5% per quarter and 7% by year-end,” you have something that is clearly measurable.  You can continually track your progress and push yourself to success.

If you decide to “reduce full-time employees turnover to under two percent for the entire year, and cut the drop-out rate of your help desk staff by half” you’ll get better results than deciding “to increase employee morale”.

Share Your Progress and Success

Don’t wait until a year has gone by to look at your goals and see how you did.  Post your goals where you – and everyone else – can see them.  Measure how you are doing at regular and pre-determined intervals.  And make adjustments when needed.

This way, when next year rolls around you can sit back and bask in your successes, learn from your misses and set tougher challenges for the following years.