What do I want my business to look like this time next year?

As you shake the confetti out of your hair and start getting used to writing 20189 on all your documents, this really should be the biggest question on the minds of business owners in January. Whether you are a big believer (or follower) of New Year’s Resolutions or not, the last days of the year and the first days of the new are a naturally very introspective time, as you can’t help but think about the year that was and the year ahead.

But back to that first question: what do you want your business to look like this time next year? The success of the new year starts right now, and it starts with the business goals you lay out in front of you.

Like your typical New Year’s Resolution (i.e. lose weight, eat healthier, travel to a new country, learn guitar, that kind of thing) the hard thing isn’t making them – it’s following through. I’m going to try and be better in 2019 and I want you to too. Here’s how to set business goals you will actually follow through on.

Take a long look at last year

The best way to figure out where you need to go is to figure out exactly where you are. Before you set any goals, do a deep dive into the year that was. Start on a very general level. Think about everything that happened, good and bad. What did you do that was a success? What did you do that didn’t turn out so well? Then get into the nitty-gritty: the actual numbers. Total sales, revenue, expenses, new business, business lost, new hires, people who have left, products launched, leave no stone unturned.

Getting a firm grasp of important data can help better inform what your priorities should be. But, as important as numbers are, don’t let them be your only motivator. Figure out what exactly is important to you. Set a list of personal priorities that can help dictate not just your list of different business goals but where they fall on the spectrum of importance.

Be ambitious (but realistic) with your goals

Once you have some numbers to help form your decisions, figure out exactly where you want to improve and make it official. What do I mean by that? You need some way to hold yourself accountable for the goals you set. That could be creating incentives for your employees or just ensuring there is some way for these goals to stick with you and nag your throughout the year. My personal favorite method is pretty simple: write them down. Lorraine has a great tradition of actually writing a letter to herself and having it mailed to her at the end of the year.

No matter what goals you set, whether you want to increase the size of your business, the number of employees, bring on X new clients, or increase yearly sales, you should be ambitious about your goals. This experience is about challenging yourself to be better, not setting easy goals you will knock out within the first month just you can pat yourself on the back. Be bold with your business goals, however, remain grounded and realistic about what you pursue.

Get a game plan

A goal is just a wishful thought if you don’t have a plan to make it happen. Meet with your team, let your goals become public knowledge, and discuss how you can make them happen with the resources you have or brainstorm where you need to start looking. Start doing some research on your own as well for new tools, resources, or investments that are available to help you.

Do you want to improve your internal process? Look into implementing a tool like Insightly. Do you want more leads in 2019? Look into investing in social media advertising and email marketing. A new website and branding can help reshape your image.

Set milestones

Setting a large, year-encompassing goal can be a little intimidating which is why as you start managing your goals it’s a good idea to consider breaking goals down, setting your ultimate measurable at the end while offering yourself breadcrumbs you can you can follow along the way. If you want to pick up 1,000 new customers for the year, focus first on getting 250 for the first quarter, then 500 for the second quarter and so on.

Not only does breaking down one big goal into several milestones help it feel more manageable it can also give you little measures of encouragement and motivation as the year goes on. I know people work in different ways, but being able to cross items off my to-do list, even if they are just steps on the way to something bigger, is one of the best feelings in the world. Even if that’s not how your brain normally works, I strongly suggest giving it a try!

You can make 2019 great! I believe in you, and I can help you! Our weekly email is full of resources, tools, information, and other goodies that can help you set and meet your business goals.

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