Defining your business goals is something of an art. Many business owners are inclined to shoot for goals that seem appropriate for the company, but aren’t really in its best interest. It’s important to create realistic goals that are attainable as well as sensible. The right goals keep you on a straight path and ensure you don’t end up the way so many other small businesses do. Here’s my advice for defining your 2018 business goals:
Follow The SMART Business Goal Model
The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. We’ll focus on a few of these areas throughout the article, but this model should be fully implemented as you sit down to draft your business goals for 2018. Using the SMART model as foundation, you can easily turn broad business goals to well-planned, smart business goals. Pun intended.
The word specific focuses on what exactly the goal or objective is; measurable focuses on the numbers that drive the goals; attainable revolves around ensuring that the goal is realistic; relevant means the goal actually contributes to business growth; and time-based commits you to achieving that goal within a specified time frame.
As previously mentioned, specificity goes a long way when it comes to developing the right goals. Business owners shouldn’t just say their goal is to make a profit or increase their social media presence. Instead, create highly specific goals that can be defined numerically (if possible). Maybe in the year 2018, you want to have $20k in profit and add another 500 Facebook likes? Those are specific goals that you can track.
Create Measurable Goals
Your goals should be measurable in order to best understand your successes and failures and make changes for the future. While profit goals and follower counts may be easier to measure, other goals are not. But before you start measuring your progress, you need baseline metrics.
Your baseline shows you where you are now. For instance, before we launch a full SEO campaign at Sayles Industries, we take a look at current monthly organic conversions, keywords that are driving traffic, and the results of existing PPC efforts, among other variables. This helps us better understand how our efforts have helped the business improve once our campaign is complete.
You’ll also need to take a long, hard long at your current marketing efforts to see what areas of the business need the most help, and which will directly contribute to your goals. If your goal is to increase your social following by X amount, then you can shave off other areas of your marketing budget, like print ads, to focus on that. Be sure that you’ve recorded all your baseline measurements across the board in a program like Excel.
Here’s a good example of a measurable goal. Let’s say you’re an ecommerce business that wants to focus on building a “premium” brand and increasing profit. You might use your baseline metrics to determine which keywords — and therefore products — are running the show. This is where Pareto’s 80/20 Law comes into play (determine which 20% of your products are driving 80% of profits). You could then realign your marketing strategy to focus on your profit builders. You’ll be able to see, at the end of the year, how these changes have impacted your business across the board.
There are a handful of online tools to help you set and keep track of your business goals. Goal Buddy is a free online goal setting software designed to help anyone create goals and stay accountable for them. GoalEnforcer has the same premise, but focuses on visual goal planning through charts, reports, and graphs. LifeTick aims to be an all-in-one platform for business owners who want to keep track of their business goals while setting up day-to-day reminders and tasks. It also has the SMART methodology built into it to help you stay on track.
Share Your Plan
If you don’t share your plan with staff, friends, family, or investors, you might miss out on the opportunity for valuable advice. And it’s not just that. When you share your goals with staff, they can also better understand what needs to be done to meet them. And at the end of the day, everyone shares the glory in achieving it. This isn’t just an opinion: studies have shown that employees are significantly more motivated when they feel accomplished, and one of the best ways to provide that feeling is by explaining your goals. Work With An Agency
If you’re a local business, a marketing or SEO agency can help you define goals you might have overlooked. Most likely, local agencies will likely have more intel about your neighborhood than even the best reputable national SEO companies. This is because there are some things you can’t always Google or senselessly streamline. For example, many national companies will merely automate your linkbuilding process; while local agencies have a good deal of knowledge about your local target audience and where they can best be found.