By Jessica Biblis
Go ahead…take a nice, big sigh of relief. Pat yourself on the back. After all, you deserve it. You survived the wild and unpredictable holiday season, and hopefully with record sales. But don’t kick your feet up for too long because now it is time to set your sights on the future.
As cliché as it may sound, a better tomorrow starts with an honest evaluation of your past successes (and failures). With a new year upon us, there is no better time than now to hold the mirror up and see what your business reflects back.
This process begins by looking back on the goals you set for yourself and your business. Were they realistic? Were you too aggressive, or did you not give yourself enough of a challenge? Are your goals from last year still relevant to your success today? Answering these questions honestly will help guide your priorities for this year and give you a clear lens to evaluate your results.
Let us say, for example, you set a goal last year to increase your sales revenue by 10 percent. If you met or exceeded this goal, think about what changes you made to accomplish this achievement and what you can do to carry this momentum forward. It might make sense to keep your goal at 10 percent or challenge yourself to 15 or 20 percent. If you fell short of your sales goal, think about what factors may have impeded your progress and address those problem areas. Review your historical data. If your growth year over year for the last 5 years was between 3 and 5 percent, maybe a 10 percent goal was too ambitious.
After you have given a thoughtful review of your past year, take what you have learned to establish new goals for the year ahead. If you make any resolution this year, resolve to make each of your goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Following this framework for developing goals is the first step in creating effective goals.
With your SMART goals developed, create a plan for achieving each one. Come up with specific, actionable tasks and milestones you can use to guide yourself through the upcoming year. Go back to your business plan and make sure it reflects your new goals. If not, it may be necessary to make adjustments. You may need to edit your timeline or invest in outside resources to get yourself back on track.
Once you have found your groove, set up a schedule for periodic reviews throughout the year to make sure you’re on target. You can use monthly or quarterly reviews, whatever makes sense for your situation. This will allow you to easily identify if you’re going off track and identify what’s causing issues and rectify them more quickly. Similarly, if you are making progress, you can identify what is working well and find ways to harness that momentum to take you even further, perhaps even expanding upon goals to drive your business further.