There are a number of goals you can make when starting a home business or small business, but only a few actually make a difference. Follow these steps and revisit them every year, perhaps on your start-up anniversary.
1. Create specific goals
Grab a piece of paper and a pen or open up a new Word document and take notes. You want something to look at in the future that will help you hold yourself accountable. No matter how smart you are, with everything involved in running your business, it’s possible those well-thought-out goals of will be completely wiped from memory. Write them down.
Secondly, don’t just list broad statements like “Increase sales” but use a real number. Doesn’t matter if that number is $1000 or $100,000, have a focused goal. This is another accountability issue and you want to remind yourself that your goal was to “Increase sales by 10% over 2013.”
Don’t forget that it’s not simply sales increases. Many business books state that the ultimate goal is to increase sales regardless of cost. The truth is that many other goals (you may choose) are better for your business at this point in its life. This could include lowering costs, opening more locations, engaging customers on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) or winning industry or local awards. It is important to make sure that the goals select are specific enough so that in the future you can accurately tell if you achieved those goals.
2. Detail the action steps you will take
Now that you’ve decided to “Increase sales 10% over 2013”, how will you do that? Think about some steps that you’re going to take to help you achieve the goals and write those down too. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. The beauty of being a small entrepreneur is that you have more flexibility to try things while the big market players are getting approvals at many levels of the corporation. If you think something might work, list it in your action items. The worst thing that can happen is that you try and the idea fails. Use that experience as a lesson learned and document it. You might also analyze why the idea failed and make minor adjustments and re-introduce it.
3. Review goals frequently
Homepreneurs wrote about business plans and how they grow and change as living documents. A business plan is not something you stuff in a drawer and never look at again. As market conditions or the industry changes, your business plan should change too. These goals (or a modified business plan) help guide you through the next year and you will want to evaluate if you are making progress to meeting those goals. If not, consider how you can make a change while you still have time in the year. Many entrepreneurs actually schedule time in their calendars on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to review annual goals so that it isn’t forgotten until 2015.