How to create and achieve your business goals

Updated January 1, 2021

For better or worse, 2020 was transformational for the majority of businesses. Many of us are dealing with the implications of staff reductions and office closures, the move to remote work, and an increased reliance on networks and applications with increased cybersecurity risks as a result.

With 2021 bringing hopes for economic recovery, now is the perfect time to set your business goals for the new year. These goals will give you a clear direction as to where your business needs to go and align everyone in the organization toward that direction.

We don’t yet know when things will return to “normal”, so it’s imperative businesses start planning now for potentially another year with pandemic implications.

While coming up with business goals is easy, learning how to choose the right ones and determining how to best achieve them requires some guidance. Follow this three-phase process for successful goal setting and planning.

Phase 1: Before choosing your goals

Before trying to define what you want to achieve in 2021, you need to assess where you currently stand.

1.1 Conduct a SWOT analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal to your company — things that you have control over and can change. This may include your team members, location, processes, and technologies.

Opportunities and threats are external to your organization. While you can take advantage of opportunities and prepare for threats, you usually can’t change them. Examples include prices of raw materials, customer  and competitor behavior, government regulations, and of course, a global health emergency. While COVID-19 definitely disrupted economies and threatened livelihoods, the planned 2021 recovery can be seen as an opportunity.

A SWOT analysis will help you make the most of what you have. You will reduce the chances of failure by mitigating threats, and set targeted goals by understanding where you’re lacking. Perform a SWOT analysis on your organization for free right now with our Business Effectiveness Test.

1.2 Assess the past year

To effectively plan for 2021 and the economic recovery, you need to review how 2020 impacted your organization and evaluate its responses:

  • Did you achieve any of the goals you set at the start of the year? Can/should any of these carry over into 2021?
  • What changed in the past year? Did your business expand or contract? Could you hire new staff, or did you need to let people go? How did your competitors fare?
  • Given the adversity, what were your most significant achievements? How did they impact business growth?
  • What were your biggest disappointments? Did the company do anything to address them?

A helpful exercise we utilize here at Leverage IT is the “Four Helpful Lists”  created by the Paterson Center to gain insights into what is going well, what is going wrong, what is confused, and what is missing.

Assessing how your business responded to the disruptions of 2020 will help you understand its strengths and weaknesses, and set goals that will support your growth in 2021 and beyond.

Phase 2: The goal-setting process

2.1 Set SMART goals

Based on your SWOT analysis and year-end business review, create goals using the SMART goal-setting format.

S.M.A.R.T. Guide Question Example
Specific What do you want to accomplish? We want to gain 60 new customers.
Measurable How will you know if you are doing well? We will measure progress by tracking the number of leads and conversions.
Achievable What action will you take to achieve the goal? We will create a customized sales promotion campaign.
Relevant Is the goal connected to your overall objectives? 60 new customers will increase revenue and lead to profitability.
Timely By when should you achieve the goal? We should have 60 new customers by the end of the second quarter of 2021.

Using this format sets you up for success since you’re able to clarify your ideas and focus your efforts.

2.2 Set milestone goals

One of the reasons many organizations fail to achieve their goals is because when a due date is far away, people tend to put off taking action until it’s too late. To avoid this, create mini-goals that move you toward the main goal step by step.

For example, if the goal is to gain 60 new customers by the second quarter of 2021, you should aim to get ten new customers every month or 30 new customers each quarter. If you hit these milestones, you’ll know you’re on track.

2.3 Make an action plan

The best way to turn a goal into reality is to create a detailed action plan.

An action plan is a document that outlines all the necessary tasks — with corresponding milestones, timeframes, and resources — to accomplish the goal. This helps you keep projects on schedule and within budget.

For example, if the goal is 60 new customers within six months, what actions do you need to take to achieve this? These could include creating a campaign, designing a brochure or landing page, and buying ads or sending out emails.

Make sure to include the specifics of each task. For example, how many brochures should you give out to win one customer? Who is responsible for following up with leads on your landing page? By when should each task be accomplished?

Finally, define the investment required for each task. How much will each step cost, in terms of dollars, time, and energy? What additional resources will you need to acquire?

Phase 3: After the goals are set

3.1 Communicate the goals and action plans internally

Make sure to cascade the responsibilities and benefits of the goal-setting exercise to your entire organization. Everyone should understand the importance of the goals to business success and how each staff member’s performance impacts the process.

3.2 Regularly monitor and evaluate progress

It’s important to get into a regular cadence of monitoring, reporting, and reviewing your progress toward each goal. Milestones make this easier, so schedule a review for each deadline. The process should include as many teams and individuals as possible within the company. This will help you resolve any issues and make adjustments to the action plan to keep you on track.

Setting your 2021 goals using the above 3-phase process can be easy, effective, and communicated throughout the organization to align everyone on the same objectives. To determine how the state of your business technology will aid or impact your goals for 2021, take the Business Effectiveness Test by Leverage IT.

Reach your 2021 business goals by partnering with Leverage IT. You will enjoy customized IT solutions and services that drive growth and productivity. Get in touch with us today!

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