No matter what time of year it is, setting business goals for your small business is always a good idea. Whether it’s short- or long-term goals, outlining your business objectives is the best way to set yourself up for success. Your mission statement may stay the same from year to year, but updating your business plan with smart goals can keep your business fresh.
here are all types of business goals that are worth setting, like adding new products, increasing customer satisfaction, or using better data and metrics in your decision-making. In fact, the goal-setting process itself can help you see the big picture and define how you want to hit your company objectives.
Below are 10 business goals you can set this year to help set your small business up for financial success.
1. Revisit Old Processes and Policies (and Potentially Create Some New Ones)
Few phrases are as detrimental to business growth and development as “we’ve always done it that way,” or, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” It’s certainly possible that some of your processes and policies work just fine, but as a company matures, its needs to transform.
A growing staff; new departments, products or services; changing employment laws, etc. can all result in new needs and ineffective or non-compliant policies and processes. The new year is the perfect time to evaluate your operational needs and make any necessary changes to ensure growth, compliance, and a positive workplace culture.
2. Improve Company Culture
Speaking of “culture,” improving and strengthening your company culture is another excellent goal, one that can help you improve your reputation, retention rate, and productivity while attracting top talent throughout the year.
Company culture is a fairly vague concept, and efforts to improve it can vary from business to business. However, many companies that have a strong culture practice concepts like establishing core values, maintaining an open line of communication and feedback, focused employee development, incentives and perks, and a comfortable and welcoming workspace. Make improving company culture a part of your business strategy.
3. Appreciate Your Employees
Though employee appreciation is, in many ways, an aspect of company culture, it’s still worth mentioning as a singular goal. The best business owners and top performing companies notably appreciate their employees. Unfortunately, 46% of Americans quit their job because they don’t feel appreciated.
Small gatherings or parties, even in the break room; social media call outs to high performing employees; extra time off; etc. can all be used to show appreciation to a single employee, a specific team or department, or the entire company. Regardless of how you choose to show appreciation, most experts agree that it must be meaningful and consistent (e.g., don’t let your efforts fizzle a few months in). It also needs to be manageable and fit into your budget.
4. Organize Your Finances
If you’re already in control of your business finances, then kudos to you – skip ahead. If you aren’t, then there is no better time than the present to set and start working towards this goal.
Do you have a working budget? Do you know how much you’re spending? Are there ways you can thin expenses and increase the financial health of your business? Do you have a reliable accounting process that allows you to regularly run and review reports? Have you looked into small business loans or business credit cards? What about other business financing? And, perhaps most importantly, do you know your business credit scores and how to improve them if you need to?
Each of those questions and activities is important to growing your business, and though they may not be the most enjoyable part of running a business, but they will pay off in the long run.
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5. Stick to a Schedule
Managing your finances is far easier when you maintain a consistent schedule to do so. The same is true for most business activities, including marketing, human resource obligations, and inventory. When you run a business, be it a large corporation or a small sole-proprietorship, having a schedule can make it far easier to maintain accountability and organization across the board.
It’s easy to get lost in the minutia of a day, but doing so can put important tasks on the back burner, and when too many of those tasks end up pushed aside. Maintaining a schedule helps you and your employees avoid that crisis.
As part of this schedule, make sure that your company goals have an attainable time frame attached to them — time-bound goals are far more likely to be achieved than those without a due date.
6. Improve Recruiting Efforts
One of the best ways to increase growth and success is by hiring the right people, but finding top talent will be difficult if your recruitment efforts are subpar. If you plan on increasing your staffing efforts in the new year, take some time to review your existing processes and make tweaks where necessary. While this should be one of your long-term business goals, it’s even more important in a labor market where employers are having a harder time finding and keeping employees.
One thing to keep in mind is that hiring isn’t an exclusively HR, CEO, or hiring manager activity. Instead, the best efforts are those that include the employees with whom a candidate will interact with the most. This increases the likelihood that the new employee will work well with the team; however, it also works to identify skills and traits that are necessary for the job but may be overlooked by those who may not be in the trenches each day and therefore are not familiar with some of the finer nuances of the position.
Another thing to keep in mind is the job description you use during the search process. A vague or limited job description can leave you sifting through candidates who aren’t qualified for the job, prolonging the efforts and expenses associated with the hiring process. In many ways, the job description serves as the foundation for not only the interview process but for future employment. An accurate job description will attract the most qualified candidates, and once the position is filled, it will act as a point of reference and evaluation tool down the road.
7. Expand Your Market
As businesses mature, the potential for stagnation increases. And, while you may have a captivated audience of loyal buyers, in order to grow, you may need to determine ways to expand your market, opening it up to new customers.
One way to do this is to revisit how you package, market, and sell your product or service. Are there other potential markets that can benefit from the solution(s) your business provides? Or, is there a product or service that you can add to expand your reach and your revenue? What about new apps or services you could use to reach out to potential customers?
Tackling this goal often requires the collaboration of numerous departments and decision makers, and it may take a bit of time to reach your end goal, but it can certainly be worth it in the end, both in revenue and employee relations.
8. Improve Your Online Presence
Another way to expand your market is by paying more attention to your online presence, though that’s certainly not the only benefit. In most industries, having a solid web presence is less of a recommendation and more of a prerequisite for success.
Evaluate your current online marketing efforts including how you rank in popular search engines, a practice commonly referred to as search engine optimization (SEO); how you’re leveraging your social media accounts; and how you create and use content. Your marketing strategy should include milestones for social media and web metrics, such as being first place on Google or getting so many thousand followers. These kinds of smart business goals should be ingrained in your business plan.
A website provides the opportunity for customers and clients to find you, but are you actively finding and engaging them? Networking can be an excellent way to gain brand awareness and make valuable connections, including with vendors, suppliers, and industry experts.
Additionally, networking also offers an intrinsic value, as those who network become more knowledgeable and confident in their field while increasing the amount of time they spend learning and working with like-minded individuals, which can result in increased business and personal growth.
10. Take a Break
Today’s employees are working longer hours and often taking their work home with them. Smartphones, remote work allowances, and the seemingly never-ending business cycle – thanks to a truly global market – means many workers are dealing with work-related matters during hours traditionally spent off the job.
There’s a host of reasons as to why that could be problematic, including employee burnout and increased stress, both of which are unhealthy for the individual as well as the business. Conversely, according to Steve Farber, business author, keynote speaker, and founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, “better and happier [employees lead] to a more productive, less stressed workforce. And that leads directly to success and fulfillment, both on a corporate and an individual level.”
As you compile all your business-centric goals, perhaps one of the most important ones you can set takes work off the table, even if it’s only after dinner, on the weekends, or for the occasional multi-day getaway. Want to keep your employees happy, healthy, and productive? Consider urging them to do the same, when possible.
The importance of business goals is self-evident, but you’d be surprised how many small businesses go through their day-to-day without really setting strategic goals. Setting these goals and working together with your employees to meet them can increase everything from happiness and productivity to revenue and market share and lead you to owning a successful business.
Where do these goals reflect in the financial statements?
Some goals are more obvious to your bottom line than others. Changing pricing to match inflation could show an increase in your cash flow. Increasing your savings rate will show in your assets on your balance sheet. But there are more subtle ways that goals will reflect in your financial statements. For instance, by expanding your network and improving your online presence, you’ll get more business, meaning more income. At the same time, you’ll also see higher expenses due to marketing or technology updates. Tying business goals to their financial metrics is important to help you judge whether or not you’ve hit your goals or if you need to tweak them.
How can businesses get ready for expansion?
Setting goals for an expansion is a really important part of business planning. A good place to start is by doing a SWOT analysis — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This can help you outline places where you have availability to grow your business or where you can streamline processes to cut costs. But a major part of preparing to expand your business is by looking into business financing. Once you know how you want to expand, the next step is determining how much that will cost, how soon you want to do it, and how much you’re willing to spend to do it. This kind of information will help you decide what kind of financing you need — whether it’s business loans, a line of credit, a business credit card, or other types of financing like merchant cash advances (MCAs) or invoice financing. Whatever you need, Nav can help you figure out what options are available and what you’re likely to qualify for. Just sign up for a free account and start seeing your options today.
What paperwork do lenders need to qualify your business for a loan?
The documents you need to get together to apply for a business loan vary by the type of loan, your industry, and the lender’s requirements, but in general, you can expect to need to provide:
– Credit scores (business and personal)
– Bank account statements
– Tax returns
– Licenses and registrations for your business
– Financial documents that prove annual revenue, sales, outstanding invoices
– Legal contracts or debts you have with others
– Business plan including growth and marketing strategies
Always check with the lender or financial institution to make sure you have all the documents they require to apply for the financing.
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This article was originally written on December 7, 2018 and updated on February 8, 2023.
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