How to Set Business Goals

When setting business goals, it’s important to think holistically about your business. You must consider the aspirations and talents of each department, team, and ultimately every employee. Since business goals define your intentions during a given period of time, you will want to maximize their effectiveness by aligning broadly across every resource and contributor available.

How to set business goals
Goals are a key step in how to run a business, and crucial to the success of any business or team. And amazingly, goals are often ignored in the workplace, as evidenced by the Fourth Annual Staples Small Business Survey which found that over 80% of small businesses didn’t track their goals. Let’s set, communicate, track, and achieve our business goals now.

Establish a sense of timing
When you set business goals, you will need to establish a time period for each goal. For example, you might have a quarterly revenue goal to achieve some new revenue milestone. You might also have an annual revenue goal to grow the top line revenue number by 20% year-over-year. Fencing in a business goal with an end date gives you and the team the opportunity to measure performance, reward excellent production, and re-evaluate your goals on a recurring basis.

Explore every facet of your business
You have multiple departments, employees capable of many different tasks, and a growing and evolving marketplace. As such, it’s important to take a holistic view of the business when setting goals. While each business is unique, there are a few goal development constructs to consider:

Profit: This is often the first place our customers start when setting their goals for the year or quarter. Aiming to achieve higher profit enables goal setting that clearly impacts enterprise value. So think about goals like increasing revenue, decreasing costs, and renewing clients.

Customers: A long-term view of your business requires a clear understanding of your customer initiatives. What goals could you instill across each department to improve customer satisfaction?

Community: Be a good citizen and foster a strong sense of local community with your business goals. Strengthening your philanthropic efforts improves employee moral. According to the National Benchmark Study measuring the Business Value of Corporate Philanthropy, employees who have a favorable view of their company’s philanthropic efforts are five times more likely to stay with their employer.

Culture: At the end of the day, you must strive to instill a strong sense of culture and employee well-being. This can be achieved with goals geared toward a strong work-life balance, team bonding, increased communication, and individual growth opportunities for each employee.

Distinguish between long-term and short-goals
We live in an objective-driven world, and as such business and team leaders must clearly discern long-term from short-term business goals, thus allowing employees to approach each goal with the appropriate expectation and a measurable output.

It’s common for long-term goals to be more aspirational, and at the same time more easily grasped by the company as a whole: Increase Revenue, Build an Awesome Product, etc. The shorter-term goals are typically more actionable, with measurable key results like “Grown Revenue by 25% Quarter-over-Quarter.” This logical, time-based approach to goal setting will give the employees a clear understanding of strategy as short-term goals naturally roll up into related long-term goals.

Be public about it
Having conversations about your business goals with all of the departmental leads and team members will strengthen the organization’s commitment to those goals. While the CEO, GM, or team leader will ultimately communicate and promote the business goals, soliciting ideas and gathering buy-in upfront really helps.

Take the best of SMART
Much has been published about the SMART goal ideology for goal and objective creation – it offers a nice construct to keep a business on track as it sets its goals. With the SMART letters generally conforming to the words Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely, this goal-setting construct reminds business leaders to pursue goals that can be achieved, tracked, and influential.

Be honest to your business
Create goals that support the reality of your business, your team, and your resources. In a rapidly growing market and on the heels of raising excess capital, it might make sense to set a goal to double top-line revenue. But as a restaurant with a small marketing budget in a local family-oriented community, more realistic goals might be a ten percent jump in sales bookings and improved community support programs.

Support business goals with team goals
A strong business applies a layer of team goals to support overarching business goals. For example, a business goal around increased revenue can be supported by team goals across the organization: the Sales team can establish goals around increased quota on new revenue; the Services team can create goals on increased customer renewal rates and up-sell targets; and the Product team can pursue a goal focused on the development of a new features that will open new revenue streams to the company.

StatusPath is passionate about creating a modernized business goal, objective, and status report system that delivers value across your entire company. You can start tracking status against goals and objectives in just one minute.

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Quick Tips

Don’t overly rely on the SMART goal creation process – apply logic to your business needs.

Goals offer guidance for employee objectives.

The problem with goals is that they are often set and then ignored, so keep them at the front of your conversations with StatusPath.

Every goal needs a time frame – without one, the team will struggle to offer a measurable impact.

Status reports linked to goals and objectives result in more actionable data for your organization.