Setting Your Business Goals for 2017
I adore goals, whether it’s personal, fitness, or business. And the new year has always seemed like an optimal time to set them, both because of the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions and because it feels like a fresh start.
You’d think that with a lifetime of goal setting under my belt, I’d be pretty good at it. And I know the basics:
- Choose a clear, specific goal (ex. Run a half marathon)
- Set a timeline (ex. I will run X half marathon 9 months from now)
- Break the goal down into actionable steps (ex. A week-by-week training plan to get from your current level of fitness to where you want to go)
But one thing I never realized was missing was the big picture. Personal goals you don’t have to consider too closely – you do it because you want to or you think it will contribute to your happiness in some way. But business goals? While they might also contribute to your happiness, ideally they’d contribute to your business success in some way.
At some point this year, I found my “business goals” were really just glorified to do lists. Run a Facebook ad, start an email list, got to networking events, etc. But the “why” was never anything more defined than “find clients”.
The reason for this became clear to me thanks to a timely week-long program run by Cat and Colette of my favorite Facebook business group, Fierce and Fab Women. The course was all about setting goals and learning your personality type(s) to get a better sense of your own strengths and weaknesses.
There is a lot more to delve into, but my major takeaway was that I’m a details person. I will happily make my to do lists and plug away, taking great satisfaction in checking things off. But when I stop to consider where I’m headed, I don’t always know right away. I get a lot of stuff done! But sometimes my path looks like that kid from Family Circus.
Big Ideas Person
On the other side of the spectrum are the people who know their vision intimately. It’s a beautiful, glowing picture they can describe to you in great detail. But… that detail is a little lacking when it comes to the logistics of how to achieve that vision.
Working With Your Personality Type
I already touched on how to organize your goals, which is really the fix for the “big ideas” person. Figuring out how to break it down and make a plan of action could be difficult, but there’s tons of good resources for goal organization, so I won’t dive into a lesson on “SMART” goals.
For us detail people, the answer is a little trickier. My Facebook group has been helpful, but I also really loved this post on blog planning for the new year. Obviously you or I will be applying these principles to a business rather than a blog, but it’s a great starting place.
For me, the most helpful tip was to picture the future. Where do I want to be in 5 years? Then I took a step down and thought about where I want to be at the end of 2017.
As a detail person, sometimes the goals still seemed arbitrary. For example, I picked a monthly income that was higher than this year, but how do I know what percentage increase is reasonable? Also, it bothered me that I can’t necessarily control whether I achieve a goal or not. Back to the half marathon example – for that you either follow your exercise plan or you don’t. But increasing income or gaining new clients? That relies on other people.
My conundrum was solved by a timely episode of the Being Boss podcast. The discussion really focused on purpose. When starting a business, we all have a reason for it, or a “why.” So then, when setting your business goals, it helps to think about that reason, how you want your business to contribute to your life or what lifestyle you want to be able to achieve with it, and set your goals based on that. Obviously, for me, this was immensely helpful.
With that in mind, I set my new goals (X new clients, X dollars per month and so on) based on the life I hope to live and what my business would need to accomplish to get me there. Then I made sure my action plan for each goal was something I do have control over. To acquire clients, I’ll attend 1+ networking event per month and be active in my Facebook groups at least 3x per week, etc. I also plan to reassess quarterly to see if those actions are having the desired result – if not, then I’ll need to do some research and try something else.
Organizing Business Goals
Once you’ve broken your goals down into an action plan, there’s any number of ways to organize it. Visual people might prefer note cards or post-its, while technical people might be happy with a Google doc. I was a Google doc person until very recently when I discovered Trello.
The “boards” give it some visual appeal (I love how pretty the interface is) but everything is still conveniently accessible on the Internet no matter where you go and it’s a lot easier to edit and rearrange than a handwritten system. Here’s a screenshot of the way I organized mine.
The leftmost board is my “current” action plan, starting with January. So whatever I’m supposed to do that month will go over there. The next 3 boards are my business goals for the year with the steps I want to take to accomplish those (they’ll get copied over to the “current” board as it becomes time to do them). The last board on the right is my “big picture” board to remind myself what purpose all the other boards have.
Obviously everyone’s system is different. This might work for you, or it might have no appeal whatsoever and that’s fine. But the important thing is not the system you use – it’s knowing your own personality, what areas you struggle with, and then making a plan that fills in those gaps.
Now go forth and plan those goals! I wish you the best of luck with your business ventures in 2017.