business goals

5 Sure-Fire Tips To Help You Set Realistic Business Goals

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When I started my first business, I was excited about all the work I had put into getting it going and for the future. Was my business going to be successful? Would I get clients? Would I reap the benefits for years to come? I thought I had a lot of tangible business goals. Still, in retrospect, many were lofty, unobtainable, and more like fuzzy dreams than achievable goals.

Today, I am much more savvy and aware of the types of business goals set for my business. Over the years, I have learned the importance of setting realistic and attainable goals, and if you want to become a pro at setting business goals for your company, I’ve got just the right tips to get you started! 

Why Should You Set Business Goals?

The short answer is – business goals help you measure progress and reach desired results. They also keep you focused on what matters, give you a sense of direction, and provide you with something to aim for. In other words, business goals turn your business vision into reality.

For example, if you set a goal to run a full marathon, could you get up tomorrow and run 26.2 miles without training? For most of us, this is an impossible goal. However, consider setting up benchmarks and realistic training goals to hit 26.2 miles. In that case, it becomes more real and achievable. It might take time to reach 26.2 miles, but if you set yourself up with the proper training plan and mini-goals along the way – with a bit of grit and perseverance, you will be crossing the finish line in no time.

5 Tips To Help You Set Realistic Business Goals

Using the same mentality for training for a marathon, how can we apply that type of setup and follow through with our business goals? Simple, follow these 5 steps to get started:

1. Start small and then build from there

Only bite off what you can chew. Start by setting smaller business goals that are achievable within a shorter amount of time, such as weekly or monthly goals. This will allow you to gain momentum and confidence in achieving bigger business goals over the long term.

2. Ask yourself, “why?”

Ask the hard question first: why are you setting this business goal? What is the underlying motivation behind it? For example, is it to increase revenue or make your business more efficient? Having a clear understanding of why you have set that business goal will help you stay motivated and focused as you take action toward achieving it.

3. Break down long-term goals into mini-goals

This is in direct alignment with the marathon training I mentioned earlier. Breaking down long-term business goals into smaller, achievable milestones will give you a greater sense of progress and accomplishment as you move closer to reaching those bigger goals. Identify milestones along the way for tracking your progress, such as weekly or monthly targets, so each milestone feels like an achievement in and of itself.

4. Monitor your results

Monitoring your business results is essential for business success as it helps you adjust your business goals when needed. Measure business progress against each goal so that you can make sure things are on track and make adjustments, if necessary.

5. Celebrate your wins

Rewarding yourself after achieving a set business goal is a great way to stay motivated and focused on the next one set in front of you. So whether it’s a night out with friends or something more extensive like a vacation, take time to celebrate – you deserve it after all the hard work, planning, and tracking!

Examples of Business Goals

In the early days of my company, some of my first business goals were to the tune of “get a client” or “make X$ this month.” While it was good to at least have goals, I have since learned that business should be much more than short-term goals. A well-rounded business should have a mix of both short-term or long-term goals, so you can focus on the overall business growth but also see immediate results. Optimal business planning involves incorporating a blend of short-term and long-term objectives, enabling you to prioritize overarching business expansion while also realizing immediate outcomes, all while considering business loan interest rates,

Here are some examples of some business goals that could apply to many businesses:

Short-term business goals

  • Increase online sales by 10% in this quarter 
  • Secure 3 new clients this quarter
  • Launch a new product within 6 months
  • Cut operating costs by 5% in the next fiscal year
  • Improve customer satisfaction ratings by 10% in the next quarter

Long-term business goals

  • Increase revenue by 20% in the next year
  • Become the leading business in our sector
  • Expand to other cities or markets within 5 years
  • Diversify product offerings within the next 5 years
  • Develop new partnerships and collaborations with 25% growth in the next decade

Strategic business goals

  • Establish strong company culture and values
  • Improve technology and digital capabilities
  • Diversify revenue streams by exploring new markets
  • Increase your brand’s awareness and recognition
  • Build programs to improve employee satisfaction and retention

Collaboration-based business goals

  • Launch cross-team collaboration initiatives: weekly virtual coffee hangout (Pro-tip: use one of these fun virtual team building activities)
  • Create channels for employees to share their hobbies and personal projects (pets, plants, music)
  • Encourage learning opportunities across departments (hosting webinars, bringing a guest speaker, financing a course opportunity)
  • Highlight the successes of projects involving multiple teams in a general channel
  • Host a monthly happy hour to improve community building

Business goals are essential for any business, large or small. They help you focus on what is necessary, align your team members around a common goal, and measure progress as you go.

How To Pick The Right Business Goals

When it comes to business goals, the key is to pick realistic ones that are still challenging. Set business goals focusing on specific results, such as a goal to increase online sales by 10%, rather than vague objectives like “improve customer service” or “increase revenue.”

You might have heard about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are metrics of success to facilitate tracking progress and observing if a goal was achieved. You want to make sure you are measuring the right things for your business and that you can trust in the data you collect. Your team also needs to be aware of these metrics and why they are important, that’s when KPIs dashboard can really make a difference.

When picking the right business goals, make sure they are S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Back to the example we mentioned at the beginning, here’s how S.M.A.R.T goals would be set if your business goal:

Example of S.M.A.R.T business goal: Increase sales by 10% in the next quarter

Specific: With this S.M.A.R.T performance goal, you’re not trying to reach for the stars. You just want to increase your general sales by a certain percentage, and if you want to make it even more specific (for instance, the sale of a particular product), that’s a good move as well.

Measurable: If you have a system for tracking sales, then you have a simple way to measure the progress of this goal.

Achievable: The goal is achievable because 10% isn’t an unbelievably hard percentage to hit in the grand scheme of things.

Before you chart out this course, make sure that you know exactly what the market is like and how difficult it will be to increase sales by looking at past data. Then, if you need to, pivot the goal to make sure it makes sense in the context of your team.

Time-bound: With one quarter to prepare and one quarter to execute, you’ll have six months to make this goal a reality.

On top of defying your KPIs and S.M.A.R.T goals, also, consider the resources available – if you don’t have enough people or money to set a certain business goal, adjust accordingly. Make sure you prioritize your goals right off the bat during the discovery phase. This way, you can be sure you can achieve those business goals and not just aim for something unachievable.

If finding resources or understanding time allocation can be a problem, invest in software to help track your goals. A project management program like Hive can help connect you immediately to your goals and projects and ensure business goals are on track. 

How to Track and Measure Business Goal Progress

Austrian-American consultant and educator, Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” If you don’t have a tracking system for your business goals you will easily see how difficult it gets to understand your team’s performance management cycle and spot the roadblocks stopping your business from progressing. Measuring your business success, gives you an argument to make data-based decisions. A robust project management tool such as Hive helps you not only track tasks but also business goals. 

Hives goal tracking feature can seamlessly add tasks, due dates, and more to your project. The platform ensures cross-departmental functionality and transparency, so everyone sees the same goals and milestones, and it keeps all lines of communication- and goal targets – visual to all.

Here’s how Hive Goals help tracking and measuring business goals: 

  • Create goals for your team, so everyone understands what they’re contributing to.
  • Centralize and automate your goal tracking and reporting.
  • Pull data from other systems into Hive to streamline operations and reporting.
  • Share your goal or goals, assign the goal to relevant teammates, track activity, and give yourselves a deadline.
  • Understand how your team and organization are pacing towards an individual goal or a set of goals.
  • Color-coded designations allow an easy understanding of “on-track” items.
  • When it’s time to review progress, accomplishments, and achievements, easily export all relevant information.

Finally, don’t forget to make business goals that are relevant to the business you are running. Don’t set business goals for something unrelated to your business, or you will run out of energy quickly. Focus on what matters most and get back in the driver’s seat!

Setting business goals can be daunting but rewarding and successful with the right mindset and approach. Just remember: set realistic business goals focusing on specific results, consider available resources, use project management software if needed, and focus on what matters most to your business.

Strategies for Aligning Team Goals with Business Goal

If you’ve defined your business goals, it’s time to communicate them to your team. As straightforward the importance of aligning your business goals to your team might be, getting it accomplished can be a challenge to most business leaders. When employees are motivated, they are more likely to be engaged and productive, which can lead to improved team performance and the achievement of business goals. Here are a few ideas to help you when aligning your team goals with your business goals: 

1. Learn team members’ motivations and dreams

Ideally at the start of a project or right on onboarding, set up some time to learn more about each individual in your team. This will help you to know how to inspire them to work towards their personal and professional goals by aligning it with your business goals. Here at Hive, each employee writes their own “User Manual” in the first week they start, which our CEO John Furneaux re-reads often.

2. Create a company culture that supports your team’s goals 

Offer good compensation and a generous benefit package such as a gym membership, gift cards to local catering businesses and flexible working hours. Everyone appreciates quality time with their family and friends, living a healthier lifestyle, and the opportunity to make conscious choices in their purchases, such as supporting local businesses and using clean energy. Your company can be an advocate for all these practices and help to improve work performance in your team by inspiring employees to work towards their goals too.

3. Show the positive impact your business is making in the world 

As the African proverb tells us, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Most people want to make an impact in the world with their work. If you can show your collaborators how your company goals will solve a problem in the world, you will certainly get more people on board to work motivated.

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