Click to watch a video about the importance of setting business goals.

It’s that time of year when many business owners are looking back on 2021, reflecting on what they’ve accomplished and feeling hopeful about what they can achieve over the next 12 months.

As we’re in this zone, I’d like to talk to you today about your business goals; what business goals are, the importance of setting goals, and top tips for goal setting. I will share examples of business goals and objectives, along with a goal-setting framework that you can use for the benefit of your own business. First, let me start by saying that you may have big, ambitious aspirations for your life and your business, but a goal without a plan is just a wish. Setting business goals is the first step to a successful business.

What are business goals?

Every business has a purpose and a mission, and your mission is essentially like a destination. You might want to be the best at what you do in your locality or deliver the best experience in your industry. Your mission could be to impact the environment, or perhaps it might be that you grow your client base to X number of clients. Whatever your mission, you will likely want to fulfil it by a specific date and within a specific timeframe.

Those are examples of brand missions, and your business goals should feed into them. Goals are essentially targets that you put in place to help you accomplish what your mission is and to reach your destination within the timeframe set out. Some missions may be ongoing, and that’s okay. Due to changing factors in your environment, you may need to change your goals to keep you on track to achieve your mission.

What are business goals?
What are business goals?

Why are business goals important?

When you set business goals, they help with several things, such as measuring your success, identifying areas in need of improvement, and customer leaks and gaps. If you have employees, your business goals can help ensure that they’re clear on what’s expected from them.

Ticking these boxes will allow you to plan the next steps you need to take in your business to reach your destination. They are the stepping stones that you use to bring yourself one step closer to accomplishing your mission.

No matter what size your business might be, your goals are essential. They are an integral part of setting yourself up for success within a defined period. Taking the time to establish goals for your business and create objectives under the critical aspects of your business will not only help you reach each goal but will significantly increase your ability to achieve those goals. That’s because every single day, you know what you are working towards and how those goals feed into your overall mission.

Goals versus objectives

There are distinct and essential differences between goals and objectives. Business goals typically represent that ‘big picture’ view of what you’re working towards in your brand’s mission. They don’t necessarily have to be clearly defined or broken down into action steps.

Business objectives, in comparison, represent the ‘how’. They are clearly defined and broken down into individual action steps. You might have one, five, 10, or more objectives under each goal, and they will be specific and measurable. Without objectives and figuring out the ‘how’, your goals will remain a wish.

How to set goals – and do it well

You might be wondering how to set clear and actionable goals for your business or how to set goals and build a strategy to drive customer experience improvement. But first, you need to be clear on your mission. By achieving this clarity, everything you decide about goals and objectives beyond that becomes a lot simpler because you can check back and ask yourself: ‘If I do X and Y now, will it put me on the right path to achieve Z?’.

What I would love for you to factor in as you consider this – or as you contemplate any goals for your business – is the fact that what your customers want can change over time. And we’ve definitely seen evidence of this over the past 20 months or so. The market can change, and perhaps your business model has changed. Maybe you’ve amended your model due to the market or because of what your customers wanted.

So, as you consider your customer experience goals, think about your brand, your products, or your services, and ask yourself if they are what your customers want. Will they be profitable offerings for your business? Are they suitable for the current market and climate? Are they sustainable over the next 12 months? And do they feed into what your mission is?

Below, I will share an example of my mission statement for my online programmes, which were bred from the current market climate.

Most small businesses create incidental customer experiences instead of intentional ones. If they don’t change that, they will struggle to grow and scale sustainably. CX Creators create the online programmes you need to thrive and make a difference in the lives of the people you touch through one customer experience at a time. So, in this case, I look at my mission at a high level and break it down into what it will take to achieve that.

If I were to categorise that into goals, it would look something like this:

  • Establish what small business owners need to succeed at customer experience in 2022
  • Create an irresistible programme that will help small business owners succeed, attract and retain 20 clients into the programme during 2022
  • Deliver an exceptional experience and programme to convert my clients into cheerleaders

These are high-level goals. They’re what I might set out to achieve, but they’re not the ‘how’. They provide an overall view of what I’m aiming to do, but they don’t break down what that will look like in terms of the action steps I need to take to realise each goal.

How to set goals and do it well.
How to set goals and do it well.

Defining your objectives

Running with this example, let’s look at how we would break each goal down in the context of objectives.

Starting with my initial goal, my immediate course of action would be to engage with small business owners and find out what they are struggling with. I’d review their customer journey for any leaks or missed opportunities for sales, and so on. Then I’d find out what support they believe they need and what they need to know or learn to thrive and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Armed with this information, I’d begin to fulfil my objectives.

Step one would be to conduct market research with a minimum of 15 to 20 small business owners within my niche to identify the areas they seem to be struggling in or where there are gaps or leaks. Step two might be to research CX trends for 2022 to ensure I’ve established what small business owners need to do to succeed in customer experience during that timeframe. Step three would be to research the most common pitfalls regarding customer experience over the last three to five years. Finally, step four would be to take the sum of all that research from steps one to three and check with a further 10 to 15 small business owners within my niche to ensure that my conclusions marry with their beliefs around what they need to achieve success in 2022.

Beyond that, I would then create a programme filled with content that will help them succeed.

Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Bound
Photo – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Bound

The importance of creating SMART goals

Now, let me share some tips with you on how to make your goals smart.

You can use the SMART acronym, broken down as follows: S is for specific, M is for measurable, A is for actionable, R is for realistic, and T is for time-bound.

Let’s apply the SMART thinking to the first goal and establish what small business owners need to do to succeed at customer experience in 2022.

I’ve already said that I’ll do some market research on 15 to 20 people for step one. This is specific, it’s measurable, it’s actionable, and it’s realistic. By adding a timeframe, I ensure that it won’t be December 2022 or even into 2023 before I get it done. So, once I add in the ‘time-bound’ element, it becomes a SMART objective.

Once you’ve identified your high-level mission and broken it down into your goals, you can then figure out what objectives and steps you need to take to achieve these goals. Once this is complete, you can review the objectives and apply the SMART acronym to every single one.

Get to grips with your business goals

I hope you now have more clarity on what business goals are, why they’re essential, how to set them, and more importantly, how to set yourself up for success so that you can achieve them. Remember that people who set realistic goals succeed because they know what direction they’re going in.

Keep an eye out for my goal-setting template and next customer experience workshop. If you’d like some help on a one-to-one basis regarding your customer experience goals, please feel free to connect with me here.

Deirdre Martin is a business mentor that specialises in brand, marketing, sales and customer experience. She is a keynote speaker, business award winner and bestselling business author. For a FREE business breakthrough call, go to Deirdre’s calendar and find a time that works for you. Follow on LinkedIn!

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