How to Set Business Goals and Track Their Progress

coffee cup on desk with napkin saying a goal without a plan is just a wish business objectives

As a small business owner, you understand the value of setting business goals. These goals steer your business in the right direction and help you stay focused on your mission. Yet, most small business owners with goals in place fail to track their business progress.

To achieve your goals, you need to create a roadmap. The roadmap has specific objectives that describe the things you must do to achieve your business goals. Roadmaps also give you a series of benchmarks to measure your progress. First, you have to understand what a goal is and the difference between a goal and the objectives.

What Is a Goal?

Races have a finish line and crossing that line is the goal of the race. There are many types of goals a business can set, such as profitability, operational, or growth. A goal is something you establish for your company to achieve over time. Sometimes, when we think of goals, we think in terms of years, but that’s not always the case. Some goals can be quarterly, or monthly. Whichever it is, you can decide the ones that best serve your business’ needs and align with your mission.

Setting Your Goals

To create a goal, think about the direction you want for your company. Analyze your business data: accounts receivables, inventory, cash flow, marketing, and operations (how you execute on your sales). Understanding your current situation allows you to see the big picture. You can also look at your business in years past. This helps you understand trends in the market, the highs and lows, so you can create a more realistic goal—one that is obtainable.

To help you through this, use the acronym GROW to develop your business goals and objectives:

Gather: Financial information and how you operate your current business.
Resources: Utilize your employees and business networks to their fullest potential.
Objectives: Describe the steps toward your goal and create a roadmap.
Waste: Eliminate any unnecessary actions or business practices that may delay or prevent you from achieving your goals.

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Without a Map, You Could Get Lost

When traveling to new places for the first time, you always follow a map. Along the way, you will recognize milestones that let you know you are heading in the right direction. The roadmap toward your business goals has these same concepts, except the milestones are objectives.

An objective is a specific step that you can measure. Your objectives are associated with specific dates and data, such as revenue or cash flow. Objectives keep you focused and efficient. A good example of a roadmap for a retail business is the following:

Your 1 year goal is to increase your product offerings by 50%. Your objectives would be to increase cash flow by April 30th, research top-selling products in the market before June 30th, expand warehouse space by July 31st, increase the number SKUs by 10% for each month, starting in August.

The goal is general. The objectives are specific and incremental. And, don’t be afraid to change the objectives to get to your goal—remember to be flexible.

Tracking your business goals can be fun. Put them on a white board so your employees can see them. This will get them engaged with the process and encourage them to contribute more. It will also hold you and your team accountable.

Goals Should Be Clear and Simple

Never set yourself up for failure through unrealistic goals. Olympians set big goals for themselves, but follow a roadmap that has small steps toward the big achievement of a gold medal. Don’t be afraid to go for the gold medal.

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