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Setting Business Goals in 2021

Read our tips on how to set business goals properly, covering everything from why time-oriented goals matter to making goals SMART in 2021.
Setting Business Goals in 2021

Updated on 19/01/2021

With the new year comes a new opportunity for you to re-evaluate your business’ activity and reassess its wider goals. After all, that bigger-picture thinking may be crucial to your granular business planning.

To help make understanding and setting those goals a little bit easier, this article will take you through:

What are business goals?

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Business goals are the bedrock of your day-to-day activity. They help guide every major action your business takes, and shape how you spend money, build relationships, and conduct yourself in front of your customers.

If your business were a cargo ship, your goal would be delivering goods to your destination. Goals are often paired with objectives, which are typically more concrete and measurable; i.e., refuelling at a certain port.

Without a good set of business goals, it’s difficult to rally a team around a common approach and leverage staff expertise in a productive way. After all, everyone has a slightly different idea of how business should be conducted and so business goals matter because they help keep a team grounded. How, then, do you go about setting them?

How to set a business goal

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If you want to improve your business’ chances of finding success in 2021, it’s a good idea to set clear and manageable goals. Decide exactly what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by. For example, are you looking to expand your small business by opening up a new facility, or do you want to increase your profits?

Alternatively, do you want to do both? The only limitation to how many goals you can set is whether they’re easy to understand and realistically achievable for the team, and by outlining your priority goals you can begin to create a timing plan that helps make them a reality.

Setting new goals is a step-by-step process that starts with a consideration of what you want to achieve, followed by determining the time and effort required to action them. Mapping out each of these stages with adequate detail is the key to making them actually happen.

It’s also worth considering whether your immediate goals impact your future goals. For example, if you’re looking to increase your customer base by 10% in Q1, does that affect your Q2 sales projections? The more you can divide your wider business goals into manageable portions, the more accurately you’ll be able to track your progress.

Setting SMART business goals

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Setting ‘SMART’ goals for your business means that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Having SMART business goals as opposed to less well-thought-out goals could make your business more likely to succeed and appear more profitable to investors. So, what exactly is a SMART business goal?

Specific

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Goals should be specific. For example, if you want to expand your business by hiring 25 new members of staff, break that down into milestones. Your smaller, individual goals could specify that you should ‘hire 5 employees by 29th February’, leaving no ambiguity in the goal-setting process.

Setting smaller goals for each week or month could give your team quicker dopamine hits as you achieve them; making your longer-term goals easier to manage and achieve.

Measurable

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Make sure your goals for 2021 are measurable. If you set a goal that’s too abstract and therefore difficult to measure its success, such as ‘sell lots of X product’, you’re unlikely to have a good idea of how on-track you are to achieve that goal as the year goes by.

An example of a measurable goal would be ‘My company will sell 100 X products in its first month of business’, this way you will know how close or how far away you are from your target goal.

One way to remain motivated when setting goals is to have a whiteboard or digital checklist which details monthly or quarterly goals. This can act as a reminder to keep focused on the targets you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. You could potentially even look to incentivise employees by rewarding them for completing quarterly goals – team meal at a local restaurant, anyone?

Achievable

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Or ‘attainable’. Preaching yearly goals which are overly optimistic to your team may look impressive to those listening, who may think ‘isn’t this person ambitious?’. But, at the same time, it doesn’t make you any more likely to achieve those goals. It’s incredibly difficult to transform your business overnight or even in a few weeks, so your business goals for 2021 should have clear conditions under which you can confidently say they’ve been achieved.

For example, it may be an unattainable goal to expand your small business internationally while you haven’t managed to experience local success yet. By setting goals which are unachievable or too optimistic, you may harm team morale and your own confidence.

Realistic

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Having relevant and focused goals could take your business in the right direction for success. A relevant goal is one which is well-thought-out, realistic, and likely to be achieved in full.

For example, if your goal is to completely redesign your company’s website, think about all of the steps this would take, from paying designers to come up with a new user interface, to having an expert actually encode the new design into the site. Are you realistically able to achieve this goal within the time-period you’re specifying?

If not, setting more realistic goals that reflect the capabilities of your team, and incorporating as many elements into that equation as possible (such as your financial capacity) could result in less disappointment in your end-of-year review.

Timely

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Setting time-based goals, where there’s light at the of the tunnel, may make your team more motivated to achieve them – given they can see that it’s possible. For example, if you plan to find 10 more clients in 2021, split this goal in half. Find five new clients by June and five more by the end of the year, encouraging you to maintain a consistent effort throughout the year.

SMART goals and objectives are easier to get behind for employees and stakeholders alike, but that’s not all there is to goal-setting. Managing your goals is a whole different art.

Track your progress

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Beyond putting the effort in to achieve your goals, it’s important to keep that bigger-picture view and check in on how your goals are progressing throughout the year. By giving the entire team visibility over the amount of progress you’re collectively making, you could better position yourself to spot any issues ahead of time or embrace new opportunities if you’re performing better than expected (as long as it isn’t at the cost of your employee wellbeing!).

A method of tracking your progress which has stood the test of time is to write your goals down in a diary or journal. Having all of your thoughts in one place and comparing them against your priorities in a checklist format may make them easier to manage. What’s more, keeping your goals tracked in a journal could help you to be more mindful of them during your day-to-day activity.

If you spend a lot of time on your phone or laptop instead of a journal, there are a number of apps made specifically for recording, tracking, and monitoring your upcoming goals for the year. For example, Goals on ‘Track’ (although there are many more examples of similar apps out there) allows you to create and track SMART goals and sub-goals. The app includes a vision board, goal journal and reports based on your progress.

Track allows you to create and track SMART goals and sub-goals. The app includes a vision board, goal journal and reports based on your progress. Another great tool for kick-starting your goals in the New Year is ‘Way of Life’. This app allows you to track your goals within an organised, charted and colour-coded system. Way of Life has a built-in diary as well as a tracker where you can break negative habits and replace them with new ones.

Set motivating goals

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When you are setting goals for yourself and your business, it is important to make sure that they motivate you. If these goals truly matter to you, they’re more likely to matter to your staff. This can result in you working together towards achieving goals built on a shared vision – which can be extremely rewarding.

On the other hand, if you think your goals are unrealistic or uninteresting, then you’ll likely find the same attitudes replicated by your staff - who are essential to your business’ success. For many business leaders, motivational speaking comes naturally, however you can read more about motivation here if this isn’t your strong suit.

Business goals for 2021

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No doubt we’re all hoping that 2021 is less unpredictable and uncertain than 2020, but while we’ve already talked in great depth about how you can improve your business’ chances of navigating coronavirus challenges in our blog, here are some ideas for your broader 2021 business goals.

1. Improve employee benefits

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If your goal is to improve workplace morale or motivate your staff in the upcoming year, reviewing your current employee benefits might be a good place to start. Using the SMART goal format, you could implement flexible working options or career development opportunities for your staff and closely track their success throughout the year.

2. Change location

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If your business is currently in the wrong location, where you are not maximising your footfall, it might be a good idea to change locations to move into a busier part of town. Or working from home could be your primary mode of operations moving into 2021 – so really take the time to consider what’s viable for your business.

3. Improve sustainability

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As the world makes more of an effort to become sustainable, why not plan to improve your business’ sustainability throughout the next year? For example, you may want to reduce your company’s environmental footprint by 25% or aim to reduce plastic and paper waste in the office.

We hope that 2021 is a profitable and successful year for your small business, and that you feel empowered to set the goals to get you there.

Disclaimer

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This has been prepared by Esme Loans Limited for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.

Esme Loans Limited makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.

Esme Loans Limited accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.

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