Knowing the direction you want your business to go is important. Successful business owners don’t just hope that their business will grow, they plan for it, and in order to create the right plan you have to have goals.
Goal creation doesn’t have to be hard or stressful. A good goal-planning process is simple and flexible. In this episode, I talk about how to create goals that work for you and your business and give you an easy process to follow that works for start-ups as well as established businesses.
Links Mentioned In This Episode
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Episodes Mentioned in the Podcast
Episode 48 – Data to Drive Marketing Decisions
Episode 70 – Tracking Sales Leads For Service Businesses
Episode 72- Tracking Sales For Retail Businesses
Better Customer Relationships: A Marketing Analytics Process
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What we discussed:
- Why do we avoid talking about goals
- Why Goal Setting is important
- How to set goals
- How to achieve the goals you set
Small Business Strategy For Growth – Set Goals, Make A Plan Transcript
*Not ready to give this episode a listen or watch just yet? Below is a rough transcript of today’s episode.*
It’s the end of the year for me right now, and I’m thinking about the goals I want to achieve for next year. But many business owners don’t go through this process and just hope that they grow in the next year. Hope is not a growth strategy. If you want to have a successful business, you have to have a plan and for that plan to work.
You have to have goals. So today I’m gonna chat with you about goal planning and a process that is pretty simple and pain free to use. Okay, let’s throw the intro in here.
Okay, so before we start the episode, I got a little bit of housekeeping stuff. there are gonna be products and books that I’m gonna recommend, articles I think you should read, and additional supporting podcast episodes for this. So all of those will be in the show notes as well as a rough trans.
Of everything. might throw a couple other things into those show notes as well, so definitely go check them out. Go to inma.com, look up the episode, everything’s gonna be right there. sometimes I do share, products. That I recommend. And we are partners with many of those products. We have used them for years.
and so because we use them, I definitely feel confident in endorsing them. so if you decide that you want to use those products as well, please use our links. we do get a small commission back. Think of it as a way of saying thank you for all this content that we’re, producing for you so that you can help you grow your.
Okay, so let’s get into the episode. So oftentimes when I’m talking to customers for the first time, I go through a discovery process and I say, Hey, what are your goals? And some of them know exactly what their goals are, and others look at me like they have no idea what I’m talking about or why I’m even asking that question.
a lot of business owners. sometimes purposely do not create goals. And there’s a couple different reasons why they avoid goal setting like the plague. most of it is fear. first fear is they’re afraid they won’t achieve ’em. I’m gonna set this and what if I don’t achieve it? that creates stress.
Another thing is that they actually create that stress by accident on purpose, which is they create these huge, lofty, unattainable goals because they think that’s what goal setting is about and it’s not. We’re gonna talk more about how you should set your goals depending on who you are. And then for a lot, it’s not sure what the goal should be like, what should I try to achieve?
I’m just trying to get through the next day, the next week, the next month. The idea of thinking long term just alludes most people, and I’m one of them. I’m not a long term goal thinker. so that’s why this process that I’m gonna share with you, may work for you, even though other goal setting hasn’t worked for you in the.
And then another, reason why, goal setting is avoided is the process is too long. It’s complicated, it’s difficult. you may have attended a course or a class or a seminar and they gave you this five page document to fill out. and then when you get done with it, you are tired. Done.
You feel like you just got fire hosed. and then that document
gets thrown into a pile and then, you think back on the whole process and you’re like, this was a waste of time. I wasted three hours. I don’t remember what I put on that document. I can’t find it in, I have no idea what to. But goal setting is important for your business, and here’s why.
It provides direction. It’s like a map for you and those that are supporting you. And even if you’re a solopreneur, you have people supporting you. They could be friends and family, they could be other business owners, it could be your accountant, right? Understanding your goals is important. So, Other people know what you’re trying to do along with yourself Also. I’m gonna hit you in the wallet here. you’re gonna waste less time and less money by actually having goals that you’re trying to, achieve things against. biggest piece of that is your marketing dollars. You’re gonna put together a marketing plan.
If your plan for marketing is aligned to your goals, you’re gonna waste less money on that, right? You’re gonna not go down the wrong road and have to come back and have to. with different thoughts and ideas. The other thing with goals is they help keep you focused or get you back into focus when things go sideways.
Sometimes things will go sideways in your business, someone will call out, someone will quit. you lose a big client and then life happens, right? Pandemic. Just gonna say that, right? That threw a lot of us for a loop. Those that had really solid goals were able to get back on track faster than those that didn’t, right?
Because you have those goals and me, I’m one of those people, I had goals and I’m like, How do I continue to achieve those goals when something like this happens? I had to rethink things. I had to kind of replan a little bit, but you actually wind up getting back on course faster when you have goals. So instead of losing months or even a year, it may be weeks or a few days that you lose, depending on what kind of throws you off track.
Even for startup. Setting goals is important, right? but you have to remain flexible. When you’re in a startup, you know what you’re thinking about next week or, two weeks may change. And so your goal setting has to be much more flexible. It could be day to day, it could be week to week. Your goal could be a one month or a five month goal.
where more established businesses, they can go month to month or they can go six months, or they can go for a full year. So you gotta keep that in mind with your goal setting. We’re gonna talk more about that too, like how to do that. And even though at the top of the podcast I talked about, it’s the end of the year for me and I’m looking at my goals.
You can do goal setting at any time, and the best time to do it is right now. So it could be March that you’re listening to this. It could be August, right now is the best time to set a goal, a new goal, change your goal. , but definitely do it now.
So let’s talk about how you’re gonna set goals. the first thing I wanna stress is that it needs to be a realistic goal that you are comfortable with, right? If you think of a goal and it makes you wanna go throw up in the trashcan, that is not the goal for you. You gotta do something that’s comfortable.
You have to go, yeah. I’m comfortable with this. I know there’s a lot of talk about that, stretch yourself and you should feel uncomfortable. A little bit of uncomfortable is okay. but if. You set the goal and it makes you so uncomfortable that you want to just like bury your head in the sand, then it’s not useful to you.
Do something you’re comfortable with and if you’re really like against goal setting, make it super comfortable. Be like, yeah, I could achieve that in my sleep. It’s gonna get you started with the methodology and the process.
because if you achieve it, you don’t stop and go, yay, I met my goal. I’m never gonna set another goal again. No, you set another one. If you achieve your goal in,half the time, then you set a new goal and then you keep going from there. Goals don’t have to be formal and they don’t have to be shared.
A back of a napkin is just fine, right? Something as a thought in your head is just fine. Do what you’re comfortable with. And you don’t have to sit down and formally start a process like this hour is for goal setting. For some people that doesn’t work for me, absolutely does not work. I sit down and I say, okay, I’m gonna do goal setting, and every thought about goals leaves my head.
but if I am out walking or if I am exercising, sometimes things just kind of pop up and then I jot them down. And so I may sit down. Collect them and choose which one I want. But the ideation of the goal happens at various times, and it’s usually when I’m not thinking about business. Three o’clock in the morning usually is where I get quite a few epiphanies and so I keep, a sticky pad next to the bed and I write it down and I go right back to sleep.
Otherwise, I will sit there and think about it for two. , if you feel like you need other people to kind of help you, get clarity around your goals. You can create like an informal goal setting group,trusted business owners that you’re friends with, that you know, that you, are comfortable with throwing crazy ideas out there with.
and then they can do the same, right? You bounce these ideas. Each other. And then sometimes that’s what makes that, idea pop in your head, oh yeah, this could be good. Or, I know I wanna do this, but is it crazy weird? so talking out loud can provide that clarity to you. I have a really, great friend.
She’s a business owner. She’s really, really smart. I will take certain ideas, I will bounce them off of her, just to get a feel. for, does this sound too crazy and ludicrous? as part of, my whole thought process, I don’t commit to it. I just throw it out there as a what if, if you have a team, you might have to be a little more formal.
if you have a sales team where they need to understand your goal so they can help you achieve them, you might have to write it down, but keep it to one page. Super simple. don’t write Warren Peace. make it as sync as possible. And we’re gonna talk about how to do that, in a couple of minutes, so that they know what you’re trying to achieve and that they can support and they can help you with that.
So let’s talk about a couple types of goals that you could set for yourself. increase in revenue. Always a popular favorite. We, as business owners, we always wanna make more money for ourselves, for our team, for our family, so that’s always a good one. you could want to increase or get a specific number of clients for a service or a product area.
You could launch a new product, you could launch into a new service area. So for startups, this may be a great goal if you’re trying to launch a product or launch a service in six months, that could be your goal. For established businesses, sometimes a good goal is to streamline processes and or reduce overhead.
you may be getting good revenue in, but not the kind of profit you’re looking for, and so by streamlining and reducing, you may actually achieve an increase in actual net profit just by streamlining things, right? Not bringing anybody new in the door. . So again, with these different types of goals, you can see that, depending on where you are in your business life cycle, who you are is gonna depend on the type of goals that you wanna set.
Other company’s goals are not goals for you. You have to set goals that are specific to you. And I like using the smart goal methodology, right? But as more like a framework. So what smart goals are, SMART is an acronym. It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time based. This kind of puts your goal in a bit of a container of, yeah, this is the right type of goal for me.
So specific is not just saying, okay, I wanna grow. That’s not a goal, saying I wanna grow by this much, or, something very specific. Like, I wanna bring five new clients on in the next. With this product or service category, I want to launch into a new county for my, plumbing business that is specific, right?
Measurable. You need to measure your goals. We’re gonna talk more about measurement later. but it’s gotta be measurable, right? When it’s specific, it’s measurable. It’s like these two bounces against each other. So if you say that you want to launch into a new territory, how are you gonna measure? how many sales reps do you have on, with feed on the ground to measure that? what is the revenue that you have for launching into that? if you can’t figure out how to measure it, it’s not specific enough achievable. This kind of goes back to that whole throwing up in the trashcan thing, right?
If something scares you, so, Th then it’s not achievable because you are gonna resist it. You don’t want to create a goal that you are gonna constantly be fighting against and resisting so achievable for you, right? 125% revenue increase in six months. You have to sell your soul. You have to have no life.
That’s not achievable. but maybe 5%. So make sure that you look at this and, feel like it’s something that you could do relevant. This is your why, right? Why do you wanna achieve this goal? Make it relevant to you. Again, if you’ve got a competitor and you found out that they set a specific goal that doesn’t make that goal relevant to you, right?
You have different thoughts, you have different plans, you have different reasons why you’re in business. So make sure that it’s relevant. And then time based, you gotta put a timeframe around it, to know if you’ve hit the mark in your measurements, whether it’s a month, five months, a year, at the end of that process, you should be able to look back and say, yeah, I achieved it in the timeframe, or I was so close, or whatever.
So let’s talk about an example. And because revenue increase is such a popular goal, I’m going to use that one. So,My specific goal is increase revenue by 10% over the previous year. So we’re talking about 12 month timeframe. measurable. Yeah. I can measure that. I can compare revenue from last year to this year and I can do it on a month to month basis to kind of track it as I go.
Achievable. Yeah. I feel pretty good about that. My current infrastructure. , number of people, software platforms, trucks, whatever, can handle a 10% increase very easily without me having to add a whole bunch of stuff on or change a lot of processes. I might wanna add a person here or there, but that’s gonna be part of the goal.
it’s not gonna require a huge investment of people or money to achieve this, and it doesn’t make me want to go throw up in a trash. relevant The why again, I want my company to grow and I want to, have more money for me, for my team. maybe, that 10%, is the equivalent of two new clients that I get to touch in a year, which I make their lives better.
That’s my why. And then my timeframe is 12 months. I put that into my specific goal. you don’t have to, but I always like putting it in both places and so that is a smart goal for revenue increase. So having goals is part one. Part two is figuring out how you’re going to reach them. And to reach a goal, you need a plan, right?
You have to have a way of getting from point A to point B with that goal. And that’s usually where people, fall down. . And so what I like to do, and I’ve been doing it for quite some time now and I’ve tweaked the process over the years is, I actually pulled it from, the Agile software development process.
So if you are not a software development or I’ve never been, in that Agile is just a process, right? back in the day when it used to take two years to build a. That was a software program where now we get it up and running, in, three months.
And we were building ’em from scratch. We had developers, we had testers, we had all these big things, or we had software development. Like systems that we had to build and it used to be where, alright, you’re like okay, this is the entire project, this is when it’s supposed to be done. And then it veered off course it always did somewhere along the way.
And so what agile when it came around did was like, no, we’re gonna create these little sprints. Yeah, we got a kind of a sort of a date out here when we wanna finish. But then, cycle one is supposed to finish on this. And then, that’s what we’re building in. And it,it allowed flexibility into the process where when someone comes along and says, oh, hey, I wanna add this here, or, oh no, you know, we’re six months into a two year project, but now I wanna change this scope.
So it created iterative cycles, and that’s the part I want you to think about being a business owner. , we’re in sprints, we’re in cycles all the time, right? These short cycles. They could be a day, they could be a week, they could be a month. And we have to be flexible with our goal plan so that, we can still achieve them.
Even though stuff changes, things get thrown in, other stuff happens. So that’s the process that I’m talking about here is being flexible in your plan, not so much in your goal, right? You can still have a specific goal, right? But the plan on how you get there has to remain flexible. And that’s why this works for a business that has been in business for 10 years, or a startup that has been in business for two months.
figure out what your short cycles are. Right? I think, depending on what you got going on, if you are a. Startup, your short cycle could be a week, right? You could be like, okay, here is my plan to achieve my goal this week, and then here’s what it is down to the day. bigger businesses, it could be a month.
Me personally, I like doing a month at a time. I can’t look out further than that because then my brain goes, what if this happens? what if that happens a month is a timeframe I can wrap my brain around. So I ask myself, what do I want to accomplish in a. . And so let’s go back to my smart goal scenario example that I gave you where we’re trying to, increase revenue by 10% an entire year.
So what do I want that first month to look like? I may decide I wanna hire a sales rep to go into a new territory. I want to expand my location in order to grow that 10%. so in that month, that first month, I may say, , I wanna hire that rep or get the process started for hiring the rep. and then look at my marketing plan to make sure that I have the right things in place for that new territory.
Do we have enough media coverage? do we need to update the website to include a new location? Do I need to open a brick and mortar? probably not. Do I need to increase, the number of people on my newsletter list? Do I need to expand my digital a. or reallocate some of my advertising. Again, 10% isn’t huge growth, so you don’t wanna put a huge marketing budget around that.
but you can reallocate. So that’s what I wanna do in the month. I wanna. Hire a new sales rep. I’ve decided that, I wanna look at my marketing plan, see what it looks like, so then what I wanna get done in that first week of that first month cycle, right? Cause there’s four weeks. and that may be where I’m like, okay, I’m gonna schedule time with the marketing team to talk to them about this plan.
I may, talk to the existing sales team, as well, make sure they’re on board with the plan because that growth doesn’t have to just come from the new territory. That growth can come from any of the territories. , and then there’s work and there’s business in there. So I might not do too much more than that, but what do I need to do today?
What is the thing, So in that week, what do I do today? Or what do I do tomorrow? And that may be updating and or creating, a job description and getting that out the door, right? And then getting it out the door, maybe the day afterwards. I know I have a networking meeting coming up on Thursday.
I’m gonna share with that group that I am looking for a salesperson. I may have, my admin put it up on LinkedIn. I may have, them put it up on Indeed. I may share it with the other sales reps and say, Hey, do you know of anybody that wants to work in that territory? so that may be the plan is to put it out there.
and that’s just month one. And then once you get through month one, you can set up what month two is gonna look like, right? Once I got the rep in, I do this, I have to train them, I have to do these things. All of that is towards your goal. And then in month three, you might be like, oh, the sales rep thing’s working, but what if I do this to increase revenue over here?
Because Johnny is a really great sales rep, and if I ask him to do, 3% more, all of a. That becomes big growth for all of us. And so that’s how that short cycle method is gonna work. I personally love it, because if I come up with a goal and I get three months into it, I’m like, you know what?
I don’t like this. It’s not working for me. It could be a new product or service and I don’t wanna do it anymore. I ditch it and I create a new one. And then I just keep moving forward. I don’t have to invest an entire year into something to decide if it’s, not working, or I don’t like. . So now I wanna talk to you about reflecting back on that cycle.
And really you could call it reflecting. You could call it monitoring your goal. You could call it measuring, but really it’s reflecting back to see if you accomplished what you set out to accomplish in that. So if in that cycle you wanted to hire someone, or you put a new goal out for your sales reps, what was achieved?
did you do those things? So it’s looking at all of those. and then are you seeing an overall. Increase in your revenue by what you did. Maybe not in month one, right? Maybe your increase was very small. Month two is a little more. But then you know, you get into month six and all of a sudden you’re rocking it because all of those things that you did before are paying off for you now.
So an example of how I like to look at increased revenue is pretty simple. You look at month to. revenue numbers and compare it to that month from last year, so January this year to January last year, February to February. . And then when I get into it a little bit more, I like to take my year to date number.
So let’s say I’m in March. I do this on a quarterly basis. so January to March, what did I make this year? Divide that by what that looks like as an average for a month, and then, extrapolate it out to the end of the. Am I hating my growth goals? Am I high? Am I low? I like looking at that going, yeah, I’m definitely on a growth path here, right?
Because my fictitious, end of year number is bigger than last year’s but it’s actually 20%. This is kind of cool. Let’s wait and see what happens with this. reflecting back.
on what you’ve done and seeing if what you’re doing is actually working, if it’s actually going in the right direction, is very, very helpful. Not only for the goal, but for you, right? It’s motivational. You’re like, wow, this is actually working. I wanna keep doing this. It worked a little bit. It worked a lot.
do we need to tweak and change things? That’s what that reflection is for. And then the last piece of this that I’m gonna share with you is, , celebrating these achievements and these milestones is very, very important, right? So depending on your personality and how you like to do things, this celebration could be a thought.
you could look at it and go, oh yeah, that was a cool accomplishment. I can’t believe I did that. Or you could treat yourself or your team coffee, lunch, something like that. You could go really big if that’s kind of what you wanna do. Not all of us wanna go really big. We don’t have the time to go really big, but I think it’s important to acknowledge them.
yeah, I did that and look at it. It’s cool. but don’t skip it. Don’t. L take a moment and go, oh, yeah. That’s cool. So it’s not a reward. We’re not talking about a reward system here. It’s talking about acknowledgement. which also helps keep you going because, running a business is hard and we’ve got to figure out all the different ways to keep ourselves going.
And I think reflecting and celebrating our huge part of that, not just for us, but for our team, because if your team sees that you are energized, that you have goals, you’re going in the right direction. And they’re gonna be like, yeah, I wanna be a part of this because this is going in the right direction and I know I’m gonna be successful here.
So what I like to do for celebration is I look at what happened, at the end of every week and I just write it down. that’s enough for me to write down, oh, I accomplished this this week. That’s pretty cool. Sometimes I’ll put a little smiley face next to it. Sometimes I’ll put a little exclamation point.
sometimes if it’s a really big goal, I’ll actually go out and make a little icon for it, right? II got some graphic skills going on so I can go out and do it, and it makes me happy, right? it gives me that sense of, yeah, this is good. What it does is it reminds me that I moved. My brick forward.
cuz that’s kind of what a business is. It’s this big heavy thing that we’re constantly pushing forward. and some days you don’t wanna push it forward. Some days you’re like, I’m gonna push it a mile. Other days you’re like, yeah, I went negative an inch. so that’s why I think celebrating is really important.
So for me it could have been, I signed five new clients. Woohoo, right? Big exclamation point, a little bit of a dance. or it was like I got three new, followers on my YouTube channel, right? I moved it forward. What this does, it provides perspective, the reflection, the celebration, it gives you perspective and it helps motivate you to keep going.
So now that we’ve talked about goals and their importance and how we’re gonna do. Let’s put this into action, right? So take an hour and decide what your smart goals will be for the next 12 months. If you are not a sit down and write it out kind of planner like me, go for a walk, right? Take the next day or two days to see in your head where those goals are and jot them down when they come to you.
Right? Sticky note napkin. Put it in your phone, write it on your. Don’t care, just get it down. if you’re still not sure about goal setting, right? If I haven’t convinced you, if you’re not excited about it, start with one. One is perfect. Having one goal, is a great place to start. You don’t need a whole bunch.
Sometimes, some of us have ’em flying all over the place, but I’ve been doing this a long time and I know the benefits, and I’ve seen the benefits of having goals. So I’m down with having more. And the nice thing is if you do the one, you make it smart. you see some tractions, you reflect, you celebrate, and all of a sudden you’re like, yeah, this is working.
And the great thing is that you can add a new goal or change the goal whenever you want to. You don’t have to wait till the end of the year or the end of the month. Now, always the perfect time to set a. And then once you kind of had decided on what you think that goal is gonna be, make it a smart goal, go through the process, even if it’s just in your head on making it, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time based.
I do recommend writing that part of it down just to make sure that you have clarity, but you may be able to work in your head that way. . Then once you have that set up, how you’re going to measure it, right? and also set up that time of how you’re going to celebrate. it could be during your cup of coffee in the morning, it could be.
Right before you go to bed at night, it could be, while you’re out for a walk. Me, I like looking at everything from the past week on Sunday morning while I’m having my coffee and going through it that way. But sometimes something happens and I’m like, oh wow, I gotta make sure I acknowledge and celebrate that this week for sure.
Like I already know. so here are my final thoughts for you. Market. Is a big part of achieving your business goals. That’s why I’m talking about this on a marketing podcast. That’s why we do it, right? that’s why we do marketing. It’s one of those built in pieces that helps you get to those goals.
It generates awareness leads, it tells potential customers, existing customers, who you are, what you do, and how you do it, how you talk to them. So that, make sure that marketing is part of that planning. And on your task list, it’s not an afterthought. It’s actually like one of the biggest things that you could do to help achieve any business goal that you’re creating is making sure that your marketing plan is on board and also in line with your goals.
One of the things that I do when I’m talking to a potential client is I go through a pretty lengthy discovery process with them, definitely an hour, sometimes two hours, and I ask a lot of questions about their goals. The reason behind this is that if I don’t understand their goals of where they want to go, I can’t create a marketing plan that supports that.
And so the reason it might take two hours is they might look at me, like I said in the beginning, , what do you mean what are my goals? I don’t have goals. I actually walk that through that with them. I talk through with them. What do you wanna achieve? What does that goal look like? Could this be your goal?
Could this be who your audience is? And they’ll go, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. once I walk through that process with them, all of a sudden we’ve just done goal ideation in an hour and they didn’t even realize it, but that makes it so that I can create that marketing strategy. Yeah. on their behalf. And sometimes they become clients and sometimes they don’t.
sometimes they take that information and they go off in a different direction with them, which is totally fine because at least I know that they’re making decisions based off of goals. And ironically, sometimes they will go off, do something different and then come back because then what I set out for them as a strategy makes more sense to them because they understood what they didn’t wanna do.
So here at inma, we love giving back to the business community. we do it in a multiple different ways. I provide a 45 minute free consultation, where you can ask those questions. Maybe you have questions about setting goals. That’s totally fine. That 45 minutes is entirely up to you on how you wanna spend it.
Maybe you wanna talk about search engine optimization or you wanna talk about your website. if you have a question or if you have an idea for a show, I would love to hear those. You can just jot those down into the contact form. All of that comes right to me. We have another resource for those that still need to do their own marketing, but I want you to do it the right way.
That is the Marketing Mastermind, blog and YouTube channel. We do a lot of how to videos, strategy videos, Because one day I’d like you to be able to say, Hey, I did all this great marketing myself, but now I don’t wanna do it anymore. Come back to me. we’ll take care of you and then sign up for the Marketing Masterminds newsletter because, we push all of our content out that way.
So if you don’t wanna remember to go to the blog or to the YouTube channel, we’ll send it to you. No problem. So I hope you found today’s episode, helpful. I think hopefully you’ve changed your thought process around goals and how you’re going to figure out how to reach them. If you did share this with other business owners that you know if you need it, they need it.
I know I needed it. and then sharing just helps grow our community. and that’s my goal is to help all businesses grow regardless if they’re ready to hire a marketing agency yet or not. So thank you so much for listening and I hope you have an amazing day.