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Goal Setting for Your Business in the New Year

NOTE from Phil: One of my favorite people in the world is my accountability coach, Catherine Morgan. Catherine has done more in the past 6 months to help my brain and my business than anyone else on the planet. I asked her to share her thoughts on goal setting for your business as it’s almost year end, and it’s time to focus on this critical business task. 

goal setting

I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with personal and professional goal setting. Today we are only going to concentrate on goal setting for your business. I know you want to grow a successful business, and to do that you need to have goals, or you won’t know what to do and how to spend your time.

This post isn’t exactly a case of “those who can’t learn teach” because I have done lots of work with clients around setting goals, and especially around accountability and keeping people moving toward their goals.

As a place to start and get you thinking about your goals, let’s explore four questions:

1. Why do I need New Year’s goals and what is the benefit of having them?

If you don’t have goals, you have no idea which way to take your business. If nothing else, making a decision will enable you to back into monthly numbers. There is great value in going through the exercise of I want to make X next year. Then ask yourself how you will accomplish that. What is that number monthly? In order to achieve that number, what is the mix of services/products, and how many of those will you need to sell?

When you break it down to that level, you may realize that your prices are too low and you could never sell that many at that price. You may find out that you need a high-end service added into the mix. You may find that you need to raise your hourly rate. Breaking things down to the monthly and maybe weekly level will help you figure out how you need to spend your time.

When you know how to spend your time, you can stay out of “Entrepreneurial Overwhelm.” I know all of us experience that from time to time…

2. Is there a rule of thumb to use for revenue goals?

I was a sales executive for Standard & Poor’s a long time ago. I always thought that senior management got out their Ouija board to come up with revenue goals and consequently our sales quotas. These quotas just seemed like imaginary numbers to me and they made no sense with what I was hearing from customers or seeing in the marketplace. I definitely don’t think you should do something like that in your business.

Pick a target revenue goal that is a stretch but not something that seems like imaginary numbers – unless you are the kind of person who enjoys tilting windmills.

When you are starting out, it is easy to want to double or triple your revenue each year. When you are more established, you might need to grow at smaller percentages like 25% or 50%, which are still very respectable.

3. How detailed should my planning be and how often should I do this?

I do recommend that you go back to your business plan and marketing plan at least once a year. (You do have those, right?) Ideally, you should review them once a quarter. The benefit of having a small business is that you can be nimble and flexible in your business- and decision-making strategies.

But please don’t use these plans as a block if you hate to do them. They don’t have to be in-depth if numbers make you itch. They just need to be detailed enough so that you know what you need to do and what the high-payoff activities are. Where do you need to focus your time, energy, or money to be successful? You won’t know that if you don’t have a plan.

But remember, plans are not written in stone. They are flexible, and they can bend and change when you need them to.

4. Are there any strategies to help ensure I actually achieve my goals?

I tell all of my clients to do one or two things each day to move forward toward your goal(s). I am a huge proponent of small steps. When you do this, you will feel like you are making progress even when you are having a bad day. Little steps keep you from spending too much time in “the dips” that is part of riding that entrepreneurial emotional rollercoaster.

Another strategy is to attach feelings to your goals. If you achieve them, how will you feel? How will your life be different? Will you be able to go on vacation? Will you be able to finally hire some help? Attaching emotion to a goal can be a powerful motivator. Paint a word picture or create a visual image of what success will feel like to you. That will help to keep you motivated and focused.

These questions are a good place to start. Obviously you need to dive in deeper, and then develop an action plan. Make sure you hold yourself accountable to someone other than yourself – a partner, a group, a coach, whoever. Accountability is the best way to ensure that you stay focused on achieving your goals.

PS – If you like this and want some help formulating your business or personal goals in the New Year, please register for my no-cost Best Year Ever! teleclass series. The two sessions will help you to figure out what your priorities really are, and help you to create a plan for achieving your goals. You can register and find more information here.

About the author: Catherine Morgan is the founder of Point A to Point B Transitions Inc., a virtual provider of coaching services to individuals who are looking to grow successful services businesses such as consulting or coaching practices. She is a business coach to consultants. She also works with professionals in career transition, helping them to find the right opportunities. Catherine has a deep background in the financial services and professional services industries with a focus on technology. She has been employed by KPMG, Arthur Andersen, and Deloitte. Through her own company she was a project employee for Protiviti, Navigant Consulting, and Resources Global. She has been coaching clients through job, life, and business transitions for more than 15 years.

9 Responses to Goal Setting for Your Business in the New Year

  • Thank you so much for the glowing intro, Phil! Really appreciate the opportunity to guest post on your blog and connect with your community.

  • Catherine, this is a great piece. In my business, Public Relations, I am frequently telling clients that their business strategy comes before executing tactics. However, as entrepreneurs we often neglect the necessary focus on our own business strategy.

    This article serves as my reminder that my business goals are not week-to-week client activities, but long-range efforts to bring me closer to my desired success level! Thank you again.

  • Absolutely yes! Small steps – I am a big a fan of incremental improvement & we apply this in our business daily.

    When setting revenue growth I focus on Activity Based Goals. Any spreadsheet can calculate a growth percentage; I need to back up those growth numbers with planned activities. My business works with farmers & we measure Acres Treated. I want to grow the number of acres; knowing the average farm size & close rate I know how many I need to contact to meet my growth target.

    Isn’t math fun!

    Thank you for the post…

    Have fun & do good every day.

  • HI Catherine/Phil

    I really enjoyed the post even though it’s now well and truly the new year. For me, my goal setting at this stage is larger fuelling personal achievement in my business.

    What really keeps me going in my business is that larger goal about why I’m even doing that in the first place – to avoid the 9 to 5 in my case. In addition, I tend to set rewards even for monthly goals to push me on. The rewards can be time with family in a park, going to a sports event and so on. Sometimes the symbolism of the reward is at least as important as the goal itself.



    • Oops, not sure how the ‘Angus’ got in there?! Maybe it was the burger I was about to eat! LOL


    • Hi Garry (aka Angus), I totally agree about rewards. And remembering to celebrate the small stuff. It keeps us motivated. Also, remembering your “why” and picturing what it will feel like when you accomplish your goals can help a great deal. Thanks for your comment.


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