For many people, the new year is a time of setting resolutions, making changes, and determining new goals. For a business, these same principles apply. Each year, your company should take time to set goals to increase profitability, make changes to underperforming objectives, apply ethical and legal standards, grow the business, and ensure the company focus is on key metrics and desires you would like to set for your company.
Goal setting doesn’t have to be an individual or solitary process if you have key players, supervisors, or high performers working for you in your small business. Ask them for input to help grow your business and set goals. This also helps to ensure your team understands your business goals and it also gives them an opportunity to give input.
If your employees don’t have some of the same goals you have, this is a time where you can communicate and ensure they understand what you are trying to achieve. Whatever goals are made, they must be executed so it is important that the goals are achievable. Work together to develop your team’s individual goals to ensure they align with the company’s goals and the vision you have set for your company.
A recent survey found that more than 80 percent of the 300 small business owners surveyed for the Staples National Small Business Survey said that they don’t keep track of their business goals and over 77% have yet to achieve their vision they set for their company.
You should think about what you would like to achieve long-term for your company. Then, develop a plan to determine what you can do to ensure your business is on the roadmap for success in the next five years or longer if needed. Once you have set long-term goals, set your short-term goals either once or twice a year based upon changes or growth. Make sure they are written out so that you can make comparisons to see where you have increases or decreases in each goal area.
Besides increasing revenue and decreasing expenses, here are examples of some other goals your business could implement.
- Customer Service and Satisfaction – Many small businesses do not have a process in place to ensure exceptional customer satisfaction. Create a process to ensure everyone understands what to do in every scenario. Then train your employees on the steps and expectations to ensure enhanced customer service. Be the place where customers talk about how great your team handled an issue. It is rare to call a company (if you can actually talk to someone) and have a pleasurable experience. Be the difference and ensure you hire top customer service employees. Also, does your company have a way to measure customer service metrics? Is it just by the number of complaints? Invest in a system (e.g., surveys at end of voice and text chats) to track customer service objectives. You should also create a process of how to address any online reviews written about your company. Finally, if you have a performance issue on your team, address it immediately. An exceptional customer service goal is important to set up while your business is small. Once your business grows and you add more people, training will be easier and customer service expectations will be set. Small businesses gain a reputation fast, so ensure you provide outstanding customer service from the start.
- Hiring and Employee Retention – Whether you are about to hire your first employee or your tenth employee, ensure you have systems and processes in place to make sure you are following your state and federal guidelines. Once you hire your employees, develop strategies to keep them. Are you conducting surveys, exit interviews, or stay interviews? If you have high turnover, find out why you are losing your employees and develop goals to address any issues. If one particular area suffers from high turnover, you may need to do some digging to figure out what the problem is. If your current or past employees aren’t giving you the information, then hire an outside contractor to find out the information confidentially. Don’t ignore it, because if you have multiple people leaving your company, then you are going to have trouble hiring. People within a community speak to each other about why you should or shouldn’t work for a company. Also, company reviews from employees can be put online now so it is important to make good hiring decisions and make changes quickly if you have a problem. Become the small business where everyone wants to work.
- Business Growth – Think of one area where you would like to expand your business and develop goals and strategies to make that happen. You don’t necessarily need to expand the next year, but start the steps and processes to get there. For example, is there a product you would like to sell that would go with a service you offer? Get input from others about what they would like to see your company offer. Figure out a way to grow your business in at least one area.
- Improve your Online Brand – In today’s market, your business should have a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter page, and blog on your website. You could also create a Pinterest business account which is free and drives traffic to your site. The Pinterest business account also provides a library of resources to you so that you can learn different marketing and content strategies. You could also have an Instagram account to show the fun side of your business. Show company events and parties and also tweet those activities and link to your Instagram. If your construction company won an award within the community or your small business grew big in one year, reach out to your local media to see if they would be interested in your story. Typically, local media loves to support small businesses and those stories will provide free advertising for your company.
- Training and Development – Although training and development sounds easy, it isn’t. It is really an area where you have to look deep in your company and find areas in which to improve. Generic training programs rarely fit except if it’s a safety or legal compliance issue like sexual harassment. For example, if you are looking to develop your customer service agents on how to handle difficult issues or calls, you will probably want more of a specialized program. Also, do you have managers who were promoted from within without training? Ensure you have a good management training program and identify what leadership skills you want for your business. Front line managers can help or hurt your business. Develop strategies to find out what training programs are needed most as your business grows.
- Process and System Improvement – Do you have programs or processes in place that aren’t working or didn’t ever work? If you have heard multiple complaints throughout the year about something, now is the time to change. Some companies keep the systems in place that don’t work because it may be time consuming or expensive to change. List the ones you can change the following year and make a plan for bigger changes in the upcoming years. You don’t have to change everything at once. For example, does your performance review system receive complaints or does it just seem ineffective? Look deep in your company, listen to feedback from others, and find out what needs to change. Also, make sure you have the tools in place to increase productivity within in your company. Do you have an email system? Does your construction business need a ticketing system to keep track of work orders? Find ways to improve productivity within your company and make investments in those systems as you grow.
- Community Involvement – Do you have a passion for helping others or like to do charitable work? Find out what is important to your team as well and develop a charitable cause goal. Then create some easy and fun projects to help out in the community several times a year. You could even offer a certain number of hours a year for your employees to get involved within the community. Or you could do certain things together like spending time building a house for the homeless, volunteering to walk dogs at an animal shelter, taking gifts to children in the hospital during the holidays, and etc. Share your messages and pictures across your social media pages to encourage others to get involved. By getting involved within your community, you will find this will also help business growth.
Developing goals and strategies for your company doesn’t need to be hard and they may need to change annually or even bi-annually. Some large organizations keep the same goals every year without fixing what is broken. As a small or a medium-sized business owner, you have an opportunity to improve what isn’t working. Accept criticism from those around you as well. Sometimes that is hard to do, but it will help you see some improvements to be made. Also, join any local business chapters in your area to gain support. Many times, those chapters will offer resources to your business as well.
Whatever goals you decide for your business, ensure you communicate those goals throughout the company. Every person in your company should understand the business goals, they should understand their goals, and they should also understand your long-term vision of your small business and where you would like to see it go.
Author: Kimberley Kay Travis
Kim Travis, co-owner of Travis and Adams Consulting Group, has over 20 years’ experience in human resources and leadership roles.
She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, leadership development, manufacturing safety programs, and writing business articles and blogs.