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Setting Goals

As a small business owner, it's critical that you have goals for your company and your employees. According to The Balance Small Business, goals provide motivation, direction and a clear way to track your progress. Here's what you need to know about setting goals.

First page of a notepad with the title, Goal Setting.

The Importance of Goal Setting for Your Business

To help grow your business, you need to determine several clear objectives — preferably between three and five. That keeps the number of things you want to achieve manageable, so you and your employees don't get overwhelmed.

Regardless of what objectives you set for your business and employees, consider making them SMART goals:

  • Specific: The goals must be clearly defined.
  • Measurable: You must be able to measure the goals in key results, as Inc. points out.
  • Attainable: It must be possible to reach the goals.
  • Relevant: The objectives need to pertain to your overall business mission.
  • Time-based: Reserve a specific period of time in which to attain the goals.

So, what kind of goals can you set?

Most of us will want to generate more revenue. However, simply deciding you want to make more money is a large and rather general goal. That's why you need to think about exactly how you're going to generate more revenue and use each "how" as a smaller, specific goal to work towards.

For example, two ways to generate more business are to attract more customers and sell more products to the customers you already have. To do so, you could expand your product line and ramp up your marketing. So, your goals could be: Start using social media for marketing to expand your customer base, add two new products to your offerings and teach your employees how to upsell to existing customers.

Setting Goals for Your Employees

Your business depends on your employees. That's why you should set goals for them to grow. Note that this is a step you should think about carefully — you'll need to ensure that each goal meets the career objectives of the employee in question while simultaneously helping the business advance towards your goals.

If you look at the examples of business objectives above, to expand your customer base, you could task one of your employees with learning how to use social media for marketing. This might involve providing paid training for him or her. And since it will become a significant part of his or her duties, it's wise to first discuss whether it's of interest to the employee.

At the same time, some employees might want to try new projects or advance to different roles with more responsibility. If their objectives help move your company forward, it's a win-win situation. So, to make it happen, it's best to have a conversation about which skills the employees would need to learn, how they'll benefit and how they can apply the skills to help the business advance.

By setting SMART goals for both your business and your employees, you can help ensure that you set realistic objectives for yourself and your people, as well as measure your progress over time.

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