Setting goals is how you get things done in business. It doesn’t matter what stage of development your enterprise is at; it is the targets you set for your company that drive you forward.
Of course, it would be best if you were working on and revising your business goals throughout the year. However, the goal-setting exercise must start somewhere. So, most business owners set their high-level goals at the beginning of a new financial or calendar year.
A target to make more money is not a specific enough goal. The goals that you set for your business need to be what is known as SMART. A SMART goal is a target that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. But before you get down to the specifics, you need to know what your high-level objectives are. Here are ten outline ideas to get you started on developing your new year business SMART goals.
- Complete a SWOT Analysis
The best place to start setting new goals for your business is by identifying the company’s strengths and weaknesses. A SWOT analysis, an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, will help you determine what aspects of your business require attention. The strengths of your business are the areas that you capitalize on further. The weaknesses will need to be addressed. The opportunities are aspects of your business and your market that you have yet to exploit, and the threats are the external factors for which you need a contingency plan.
- Reduce Costs
All business owners aim to control business costs. However, it can be challenging to monitor expenses constantly when you have so many other things on your plate. So, commit this year to set aside some time for a complete cost review. Go through your accounts to see where you are spending money and where there might be potential savings to be made. Review all your regular vendors, too. You might be able to renegotiate terms with some vendors, or there might be cheaper alternatives.
- Increase Gross Margins
There may be new products that you could release and new markets you could target. But, before you start considering expanding your reach, you might want to look for ways of squeezing some extra profit out of what you currently sell. Review your entire product range and consider if prices could be increased this year, and see if any savings can be made on raw materials or production costs. Merely adding $1 of extra gross margin on every unit sold could represent a significant increase in annual profits.
- Improve Cash Flow
Another excellent new year goal to set yourself would be to improve your cash flow. More cash in the bank would mean less time wasted fending off creditors and more time available for managing the business. If your cash flow runs smoothly, you would have more money to spend on expanding the business. So, consider the ways that you might be able to get your customers to pay you sooner. You could offer early settlement discounts, for example. Or. Perhaps you could improve your collections process. For some businesses, invoice factoring can also be an excellent way to smooth out the peaks and troughs in cash flow.
- Carry Out a Marketing Audit
Your marketing might be bringing in sales. But do you know which marketing campaigns are yielding the results? It’s easy to take a “throw enough of it at the wall, and some will stick” marketing approach. However, if you fail to measure each campaign’s success, you could be wasting a lot of money. Make this year the year that you sit down and take stock of your marketing campaigns. Weed out the marketing campaigns that are not bringing results. Spend the cash that you save on campaigns proven to be successful or on new marketing ideas.
- Start Taking Social Media Marketing Seriously
If you have yet to use social media marketing to promote your business, this could be the year to start. If social media ads can influence an election’s outcome, think about what they could do for your sales. Set an initial goal of learning more about social media marketing, and then plan your first social media campaign. Don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results. It takes time to build a credible social media presence, and you will probably need to try several approaches to social media advertising before you find the most effective format for your business.
- Expand Your Product Range
If you believe you have achieved all you can with your current products, it may be time to expand your range. So, put some thought into new products or services you could offer to complement your existing product range. Look at what your competitors are selling, and survey a sample of existing customers for their ideas on how you might expand your offering. If you can sell more complimentary products, it could increase both new and repeat sales.
- Target New Markets
You could make it a goal of the next twelve months to explore new markets for your products. Consider, for example, if there are untapped vertical markets that you could target. Or perhaps you could repurpose your products for a new use. Another way to expand your business is to broaden your reach to new regions or even look overseas for opportunities.
- Improve Customer Service
Set yourself a goal to take your customer service levels from adequate to exceptional. Review all your customer service processes, including your complaints process, and consider how you might improve the customer experience from the first point of contact to sales follow-ups. If you operate in a highly competitive market, customer service is what will set you apart from the rest. So, look at the journey a customer takes with your business and consider how you can improve the experience.
- Update Your Business Plan
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to review your business plan. So, dig out the business plan document you wrote when you set up your business and see if you achieved your goals. Then, revise your plan to incorporate your new SMART goals for the coming year. Remember, merely thinking about new objectives for the next twelve months is not enough. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, and you will need to plan how you will achieve them.
Hopefully, the above ideas will get you thinking about your business goals for the next twelve months. The crucial point you should take away from this article is that your business may lose direction without a plan. So, put aside some time this year to set your SMART goals and rewrite your business plan ready for the new year.