Guidelines for Setting Your New Year Business Goals

A key to being productive is to know what you’re truly trying to produce. Setting smart, realistic goals for your business and career should provide a framework, but only if you do it using a solid framework. Here are our guidelines for setting your new year business goals and having a better chance to achieve them.

1. Set Big (Enough) Goals

You probably don’t want to get worse or tread water. Goals should be to move your results “up and to the right”. Setting realistic goals that push you to a higher level is critical to success. If goals are too difficult, you’ll be frustrated and create stress. If they are too easy, you’ll be bored and stagnant. Aim high – but not too high – to achieve more.

2. Be Descriptive

Paint a picture with words. Visualize where you’re going (note, I didn’t say WANT to go!). Fill out the story line, including what you have to do to achieve the goals. We’ll drill down on those ideas in a moment, but tell the story “visually” first.

3. Be Specific

Don’t be vague – make your goals specific. We’ve all been told that personal goals like “lose weight” are less effective than “work out 3 times a week until I lose 10 pounds”. The same applies in business, so turn rough ideas into specific actionable goals.

4. Align The Goals

Make sure the goals really align to the big picture of your business and career. If you’re a social good company, but the goals are about profit, something’s awry. Hopefully you won’t need a reminder, but run a litmus test with your goals to your company or career vision.

5. Create Metrics

Set measurable goals and measure them. It’s easy to measure progress on goals with all the analog and digital tools available today. Whether you’re putting check marks on your calendar, entering results in a spreadsheet or tracking things with a specific app on your phone, you can manage it.

6. Establish a Reasonable Timeline

A critical dimension of your goal framework is time. Going back to our personal goal discussion – if you want to lose 10 pounds, how long will it take? What are the milestones you would feel important to know you’re doing the right things? If you want to launch a new product for your business, how long will it take to design (milestone), build (milestone), test (milestone), build a marketing plan and launch? Bake milestones and check-off points into your timeline.

7. Create Accountability

If you’re setting up goals for your company, your team has to buy in to the goals (see item #4 above) and be held accountable to help reach them. “Make $10M in new revenue” means the sales department has a lot of work ahead! You can’t just will things to happen, so share the goals and make people accountable.

8. Schedule Reviews

As a corollary to #7, you have to pre-schedule reviews. If you’re setting a monthly goal (“get 20% more website leads”), review progress with the accountable person/team at the end of the month. The reviews shouldn’t be about finger-pointing and the blame game – they’re about tracking progress and correcting course.

9. Plan for Change

Yes, your goals can change. What seemed like a great plan in January may be a terrible idea by April. Your regular reviews can be eye-opening, so don’t skip reviews! Use them for good, not blame, and change the things that aren’t working. We like to say “do more of what works and less of what doesn’t”.

10. Look for “Smartcuts”

We’ve written about the Pareto Principle here before (the good ol’ 80/20 rule). Instead of putting 100% into everything, see if you can find the 20% that makes 80% of the difference. If you’re regularly reviewing your goals, you can find where the best returns originate (“more of what works”).

11. Fully Commit

If your team doesn’t buy in on the vision, or if you don’t seem sincere about achieving them, the goals are doomed. The framework can work, but only if you follow it and follow through.


Guidelines for Setting Your New Year Business Goals

Your new year goals don’t have to be like new year’s resolutions, broken by February! Hopefully our guidelines for setting your new year business goals can help you get to the next level with whatever you’re working on. Set achievable (but big) goals, get everyone to contribute, measure and review, and adjust as needed. Make this year your best yet…



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