As your business steamrolls through another year, you might be excited about where the future will take you. However, without a careful analysis of last year and a planning session for the coming months, you might end up sitting at the train station wondering what went wrong. Here are four key tips for setting your 2016 business goals, so that you can build your brand, strengthen your profits, and boost employee morale:
1: Analyze Your 2015 Successes And Failures
Before you embark on another year filled with fresh ideas and exciting new business ventures, you need to spend a little time reflecting on your 2015 successes and failures. Gather your corporate team together and talk about the things that worked and the things that didn’t.
As you discuss the previous year, remember that objectivity is key. Your team members put their hearts and souls into their projects—don’t squash their efforts with negative talk. Instead, try to calmly and rationally evaluate each project your team took on. Approach each topic professionally, and focus on things that you can prove, such as website statistics, sales numbers, and customer acquisition costs. Be careful not to brush over your success and focus on your failures. If you want to motivate your team, you need to celebrate the milestones they helped you to reach.
2: Schedule Your Projects
If your business turned a profit in 2015, you might be able to afford a few projects that you have been mulling over. However, careful project planning is important if you want that profitability to continue through 2016. Instead of renovating the lobby, investing in new equipment, and giving all of your employees a raise at once, schedule one major project each quarter. For example, you might decide to focus on improving your search engine rankings through implementing a rock solid SEO plan during the first quarter, and training new developers the second quarter.
In addition to helping you to pace your projects, careful scheduling might also help you to take challenges in stride. You never know what might come your way, and financial liquidity is crucial. However, if your projects are spread over the course of a year, you might have a little extra money in the bank so that you can stay afloat.
3: Set A Clear Goal For the Year
Have you ever heard the old adage “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there?” In business, people have a tendency to set vague, unproductive goals that can hurt their ability to achieve real results. For example, your goal might be to “increase sales,” but how will you actually accomplish that? If you want to be successful, set a clear goal for the year and write it down. Here are three qualities every goal should have:
- Specific: As you ponder your vision, try to break down your goal into smaller, more specific components. For example, if your goal is to “reduce overhead expenses,” you might decide to keep your inventory level below a certain percentage of your sales, or focus on employee safety to reduce accidents. The more specific a goal is, the easier it will be for your team to zero in on the results.
- Quantifiable: Choose a goal that can be measured. If your goal is vague or subjective, you might not know when you have succeeded or failed.
- Actionable: When it comes to business, you can’t control everything. Make sure that your goal is actionable, and not completely dependent on an outside variable. For example, setting the goal “reduce insurance expenses” might not be actionable, since some insurance costs are mandated by the Federal Government.
After you know what you want to accomplish, set a deadline. Although it might seem like an antiquated idea, deadlines help to create a sense of urgency for your team.
4: Share Your Vision With Your Employees
You didn’t create a successful business all by yourself, which is why it is important to share your vision with your team. When you talk with your employees about company goals and how they can help, they will feel more involved. Don’t be afraid to delegate responsibilities. Think about how each employee could help, and try to use them to their full potential.
If you really want to get your employees excited about chipping in, make your meeting memorable. Ask your marketing department to create fun signage so that everyone can see and remember your vision. Consider coming up with a slogan that sums up your goal and posting it around the office. For example, if your goal is to reduce workplace dangers so that you can cut down on employee accidents, your slogan might be something like “All Alive 365!” A simple daily reminder might help employees to make decisions that support your goal.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to be transparent when it comes to your goals. Feedback is crucial for success. In fact, research has shown that in group settings, regular feedback raised progress. However, when feedback was eliminated, performance dropped. Check in with your employees to share new information related to your goal.
Don’t be discouraged if things don’t change overnight. Endurance is an important part of success. As you go through the year, track your progress and make note of positive changes. Reward your team when something goes right, and ponder the problem when issues arise. By constantly evaluating your goals and adjusting them throughout the year, you might be able to enjoy a level of success you never thought possible.