Small business goals: A guide to success

Small Business Advice 2 January 2018

Expand to a new region. Win an industry award. Double your profit.

Having goals is a big part of running a small business. They keep you moving forward, striving to be better, and working for something bigger. But how do you actually accomplish them?

Setting a goal and putting a plan in place to make it happen is the difference between dreaming about success and achieving it. Understand what you need to know about small business goals so you can line yourself up to start scoring.

What are goals and why does your business need them?

A business goal is a specific thing you want your company to accomplish. It could be a simple, short-term aim, such as getting a certain amount of customers in a week or reaching a monthly target. Or it could be a more difficult, long-term objective, such as growing annual profits by a large margin or opening up a second office.

Setting goals is important because:

  • It keeps you and your staff focussed, as you always have something to work towards.
  • It puts the routine things you do each day into a wider context, helping you to see the big picture.
  • It ensures you’re always striving for more and trying to grow.
  • It gives you a way to measure your success, allowing you to keep track of progress.

What are the main types of business goals?

Business targets typically fall into three main categories:

  • Business operations goals: Perhaps the most general type of goal, these relate to the way the business runs and could include anything from improving finances to changing location or altering systems.
  • Employee goals: These goals might be connected to specific employees, such as individual targets you set with your workers, or it could be a more general goal relating to the success of an entire team.
  • Personal goals: As you’d expect, these goals are about you and what you want to accomplish within the context of your business.

If you plan your goals well, you’ll likely find that there is crossover between these categories. A business operations goal probably won’t go anywhere without effort from your employees, just as achieving a personal goal will likely help boost business operations.

How to set and achieve business goals

When you run a small business, goal setting should come naturally. Chances are you have at least a few areas in mind that you want to change or something you’re keen to achieve.

Concepts like ‘be more organised’ or ‘make more money’ are a great place to start – but they won’t get you very far. In order to set successful business goals, you need to:

  • Give yourself time to think: Brainstorm with your team, or by yourself, and think about areas you want to improve or grow, gaps that you’ve noticed, or issues that you always seem to come up against.
  • Come up with a ‘main goal’: This should be a big theme or idea. Focus on it by writing it at the top of a page or whiteboard.
  • Break it down into ‘core goals’: Write down the core aspects related to this goal. Think about what’s holding you back from reaching it, or the steps you’ll need to take to get there.
  • Define mini-goals: Address these core goals and create a list of actionable steps for reaching each one. If necessary, assign different team members and create a schedule of what can be done each day, week, or month.
  • Keep track: As you work through each plan, review your progress and look at different ways you can improve or change course in order to keep moving towards the main goal.

How can you make your business goals achievable?

In order to carry out a successful plan and reach your goals, you need to make sure they’re the type of thing that can actually be accomplished.

The SMART goal-setting concept is a popular one – and for good reason. It’s a great strategy that you can apply to your ‘core goals’, to ensure they’re achievable and effective. Each goal should fit into the following:

  • Specific: Goals should focus on specific tasks, rather than general improvements.
  • Measurable: You should be able to clearly know whether or not you have achieved your goal.
  • Attainable: It must actually be possible for your business to achieve the goal you set.
  • Realistic: The people working to achieve the goal should have the time and resources they need to do so.
  • Timely: You should be able to assign a deadline for achieving your goal.

Business goals and accountability

To achieve your business goals, everyone in your team must be aware of their individual responsibilities, while also being willing to help out the wider team. To do this, two main things must be clear:

  • You must be accountable for the goals you have set and lead the way towards achieving them.
  • You must ensure staff are aware of the roles they have in working towards your goals.

When you’re working towards something as a collective and everyone feels invested, you’ll be far more likely to succeed. Maintaining a strong company culture that’s based on open communication and teamwork will help to get everyone on board.

Keep morale high by making sure your employees know how these goals will benefit them individually, and by giving them positive feedback for the things they do to help along the way.

Examples of business goals

You’ll probably have at least a rough idea of what you want your business to accomplish, but we’ve listed some typical business goals to get you inspired:

  • Goals for profitability
    • Increase revenue by X%.
    • Increase profit by £Y.
    • Cut debt by £Z.
  • Goals for growth
    • Launch a new product or service.
    • Recruit more team members.
    • Increase traffic to your website.
    • Expand advertising and marketing reach.
  • Goals surrounding customer satisfaction or retention
    • Launch a rewards programme.
    • Renovate your facilities.
  • Efficiency
    • Conduct an internal audit.
    • Improve your brand.
    • Introduce a new way of providing service.
    • Update your business plan.

By breaking it down into realistic steps and committing to a plan, you can turn your small business goals into big successes. Explore our blog for more small business advice, and find out how a card machine can help you reach targets for 2018.

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