Setting the right business goals can provide your business with a sense of direction and allow you to measure your progress. But business goals shouldn't be static and unchanging. Instead, they should adapt as you learn more about your business and your industry. So how often should you reevaluate your business goals? And what's the best approach to setting new goals?
Why setting business goals is important
Business goals help you in several ways. For starters, they provide your business with direction.
If your ultimate goal is to generate million a year in revenue, you can plan a course of development that ultimately gets you to that destination.
That business is going to operate very differently than one whose goal is to establish operations in 10 different countries. Goals also give you a timeline, so you have expectations for how quickly your business should be growing or progressing.
Business goals play other roles too, including:
- They motivate you. Just like personal goals, business goals serve as a form of motivation. Knowing the end result you want can inspire you to work harder and be more focused. It also can help you take obstacles in stride and avoid feeling daunted by setbacks.
- They allow you to measure progress objectively. Is your business succeeding? That's often a hard question to answer objectively. But a solid set of goals will allow you to determine whether or not you're making significant progress: You've either reached your goal by the deadline or you haven't.
- They align teams and individuals. Goals also can provide a fabric of shared philosophy for the entire organization, making sure that your teams and individuals all share the same high-level vision for the company.
How to set business goals
There are several types of business goals you're going to need to set.
You'll be setting goals for the entire organization as well as goals for teams and individual employees. You'll be setting long-term goals, forecasting the future of the business for years, if not decades to come, and short-term goals that you can knock out in the span of a week.
Your long-term goals for the business are going to be the most important, and the ones that provide a foundational architecture for all your other business goals.
These types of goals tend to include topics like the amount of revenue you're going to generate, the number of people you're going to reach and the products and services you're going to roll out. The best all-around approach to setting goals is following SMART criteria.
Your goals should be:
- Specific. The more specific you are, the better. A vague goal like “become the best ____ business in the world” isn’t going to cut it.
- Measurable. Achieving the goal should be unambiguous. How will you know when you’ve reached it?
- Achievable. Realistic, achievable goals strike the right balance of motivation and challenge.
- Relevant. Your goals should be relevant to your industry and your capabilities
- Time-bound. You also need to have deadlines in mind for your goal achievements.
Why reevaluate your business goals?
Why do you need to reevaluate your business goals? The simplest answer is that things change.
Maybe your company was the recipient of $3 million in new funding that you weren't expecting. Maybe a new competitor emerged and is threatening your business share. Maybe new regulatory requirements are forcing your company to pivot. Or maybe you've already achieved your first goals and your company is rudderless.
All your business goals are based on what you understand about your business environment and what you want for the company's future.
It stands to reason that if your business environment changes or if your vision for the future changes, your goals must change as well.
How often should you reevaluate your business goals?
How often do you need to reevaluate your business goals? The answer will be different for every business, but you'll need to keep in mind things like:
- Your previous goal progress. What has your progress been like for your previous business goals? Were you able to achieve them in record time? Are you struggling to make any progress toward them? If your goals didn't seem like a good fit, or if they're still not a good fit, you’ll need to change them.
- The pace of your industry. Different industries have different paces. Some business environments haven't changed much in the past 50 years. Others, especially those focused on technological development, seem to evolve on a daily basis. The faster your industry changes, the more frequently your goals will have to be fine-tuned.
- Recent and forthcoming impactful changes. What changes have you noticed in your business and your industry and what changes are coming in the future? Changing consumer preferences, new laws, major rounds of employee turnover and new competitors all can strongly influence your business’s course of development.
Regardless of the answers to these questions, you should plan on evaluating your long-term goals at least once a year. Your short-term goals will require more frequent attention and analysis.
Tools to help you set business goals
If you're struggling to set the best goals for your business, there are several tools that can help you:
- Microsoft 365. Through GoDaddy, you can access Microsoft 365, a suite of productivity and business planning tools to use throughout your entrepreneurial journey.
- The Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA is dedicated to providing resources and education to entrepreneurs of businesses of all shapes and sizes. There, you can find thorough guides and templates for your business planning needs.
- Any project management platform. Tools like Asana and Trello are specifically designed to help professionals set goals, plan projects and manage the individual tasks that allow them to complete those projects. It's the perfect place to keep track of your goal progress with the entire team.
Ready, set, go!
While business goals are designed to provide a firm long-term direction for your business, they also need to remain fluid and responsive to your business conditions.
It's important to reevaluate your business goals at least once a year. Even if you don't change your goals with every review, doing so enables you to redouble your commitment to your original vision and reinvigorate your business with renewed motivation.