Setting resolutions is a standard part of each new year. Losing weight, getting your savings in order and figuring out your work/life balance are standard chart-toppers, but how many people set resolutions for their businesses?
Many of the small business leaders I know are overwhelmed with the day-to-day, month-to-month tasks that fill their Outlook calendars resulting in little time left over for planning. The truth of the matter is that those who set explicit goals are far more likely to achieve success than those who don’t.
So what do you want to achieve next year? Do you want to grow brand awareness? Increase lead generation? Whatever it is you hope to achieve, setting aside the time to determine your goals and how you’re going to achieve them will undoubtedly increase your chances of success.
Are SMART Goals Really Smart?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the concept of SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For years this concept has been the backbone of planning meetings, but according to a Forbes article from earlier this year, “…parts (like Achievable and Realistic) make SMART goals pretty dumb. Why? Because too often they act as impediments to, not enablers of, bold action, and actually encourage mediocre and poor performance.” I have to say that in general, I tend to agree.
There’s a cheesy saying on motivational posters all over America telling us to shoot for the moon because even if we miss we’ll land among the stars. Cheesy? Absolutely. But I think in this case it has it a point.
Shooting for the Moon
If you’re a business leader, it’s pretty likely that you are passionate about what you do or, at the very least, about running a profitable business. On the risk of upping the level of cheese already in this post, I’m going to suggest setting SUPER (Specific, Urgent, Provable, Extraordinary, and Relevant) goals for your business.
I like this one from the original SMART concept so let’s keep it. Setting specific goals rather than vague goals gives you a clear target for which to shoot. Here are some examples:
- Vague: Increase brand awareness
- Specific: Increase brand awareness by writing two blogs a week and sharing on both Facebook and Twitter resulting in a total of 104 blog posts by December 31, 2016.
- Vague: Generate more lead-generating content marketing
- Specific: Develop one e-book written for purchasing departments to be distributed to 10 local municipalities, 5 local public school districts and 5 higher education facilities by June 1, 2016
Tracking is an obvious benefit to setting specific goals. If you attach a quantitative qualifier to your goal you can easily identify your progress.
One of the definitions of urgent is “done or arranged in response to a pressing or critical situation;” I’m sure I’m not alone in believing that generating more revenue is a pressing situation. Any goals you set for your business need to be put on a time table that require urgency and focus. You may think that by setting deadlines far into the future you’re giving yourself ample time for success, but more than likely this will cause you to lose steam. Projects with earlier deadlines will take priority and eventually you’ll lose focus on your goal entirely as it’s overshadowed by matters that seem more pressing.
Almost as important as setting the goals themselves is tracking your efforts and determining whether or not your strategies are working. As noted above, setting specific goals makes it easier to determine whether or not your strategies have been proven successful. Setting milestone meetings with your teams to review progress reports and brainstorm new ideas is an excellent way to make necessary changes and renew motivation.
This doesn’t even need much of an explanation. Go big or go home. This is your business and you want to succeed. When you set the bar high the reward can be astronomical. If you fall short of your goal, the chances are you probably were successful on some level, even if it’s not quite the level you were hoping for. In these instances you’ll have an opportunity to review your processes and determine what changes need to be made in order to achieve the next goal.
Each of your goals should be aligned with your company’s overall mission and business plan. A goal of attending 10 tradeshows within the first quarter of the fiscal year isn’t a good goal if past experience shows your ROI on tradeshows is minimal.
Help Marketers Help You
If you’re planning to hire a marketing firm to help boost your marketing performance, this doesn’t get you out of goal planning. A good contract marketer will want to learn the ins and outs of your business, what you hope to achieve and what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past. Help your marketing team help you by laying out your initial goals and expected outcome so they can help you craft strategies to attain them.
On that note, we want to wish all of our clients, friends and family a SUPER and safe New Year! May 2016 bring you success and prosperity in everything you do!