So it’s a new year and you have several big business goals in mind. Maybe you want to put more effort into your marketing or perhaps you’re planning to expand your team or launch a new product. Whatever your specific objectives are, you’re eager to get moving. But, when you return to work after your holiday break, there are emails and messages piled, tasks to catch up on and fires to put out. And don’t forget, you also need to prepare for tax time. Suddenly, those resolutions you promised you’d prioritise take a backseat—and you haven’t even made it to February.
Reaching business goals
For most business owners, setting goals isn’t the problem—there’s no shortage of things they want to accomplish. The challenge is remaining accountable to those goals, particularly when running a business is already so demanding of your time and energy.
As you know, sleep is already hard to come by for small business owners. So, adding even more to your already-overflowing workload feels impossible—unless you’re strategic. Here’s what the standard goal-setting process looks like for most entrepreneurs: They identify an objective and then vow to themselves that they’ll achieve it this time around. That’s it. They skip the crucial step of forming a plan for actually reaching that goal. They have the what, but they skip the how. As a result, those ambitions seem overwhelming and there’s no way to monitor progress.
So, what’s the secret to accomplishing your business goals in 2019? Follow these steps to set yourself up for success.
Step one: write them down
The first step is to get specific about exactly what you want to achieve. “Do a better job at marketing” is ambiguous, and it’s difficult to know where to start. Many entrepreneurs swear by the SMART goal framework for setting realistic and helpful objectives. This type of goal is:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Achievable
- R: Relevant
- T: Time-Focused
With that in mind, your generic goal to improve your marketing initiatives should look more like this:
Publish at least three guest posts to industry websites within the first quarter of 2019.
When structured that way, you have a much clearer direction about where to get started. After you’ve determined your goal, write it down in as much detail as possible. Are there specific publications you want to target? Are there certain topics you want to write about? Write it all down and keep it somewhere safe. Neuroscience research proves that people who are able to vividly picture and describe their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them.
Step two: break them down
You have your goal established. Now it’s time to outline an action plan for how you’ll achieve it. Even when you’ve confirmed that your objective satisfies the SMART goal framework, it can still feel daunting. That’s why you need to break it into even smaller tasks. Sticking with the example of publishing guest posts, what smaller to-dos are required to make that happen? For example, you need to:
- Research outlets that publish guest posts
- Find their contributor guidelines
- Pitch your article idea
- Outline your article
By chunking out that larger objective into smaller pieces, you’re giving yourself a roadmap you can follow to chip away at that goal—rather than constantly feeling overwhelmed by it.
Step three: schedule them
Identifying those tasks is a start, but it’s still not enough to hold you accountable. In order to prioritise them alongside the rest of your workload, you need to dedicate the necessary time to them. Assign a deadline to each of these relevant tasks. Perhaps you need to identify your chosen outlets by January 31 and read their contributor guidelines by February 15.
Mark those as deadlines in your calendar and treat them with the same level of commitment as you would any other business meeting or obligation. Doing this ensures that you continue to take steps in the right direction—and that you avoid that frantic scramble when you realise the first quarter of the calendar year is almost over, and you haven’t done a single thing to contribute to your goal.
Step four: track them
There’s one more important thing you should know about business goals: They aren’t something you can set and forget. Much like your business, they shift and evolve throughout the year. A resolution you made in January might no longer be as impactful or relevant once you approach the summer months. You might need to switch your focus.
This is why it’s important that you continuously monitor your progress. You’ll not only be able to discern what’s working and what isn’t, but you’ll also realise when it’s time to change course to focus on something more pressing.
This is the year you accomplish your goals
If you’ve previously given up on any sort of new year objective, you’re in good company. Most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February. Fortunately, you have all of the control over whether your business goals get accomplished—or whether they continuously slide to the back burner. This is your year to make those big things happen in your business. Follow this four-step process, and you’ll transform those objectives from daunting to done.