No matter what stage of business you are at, or if you are self-employed, the start of the year is a great time to set, review or reset your goals.
Taking time to look at where your business is at, and where it’s heading, is key to achieving the business – and the lifestyle – you want.
It’s important to set key goals before you launch a business, or go out on your own. But it’s just as important once you are beyond start-up phase. Set aside time to regularly review your goals and your progress, especially at key business milestones.
“Goals affect all aspects of the business, from what you charge, to the quality of your product or service, to which opportunities you follow up, and which you turn down,” says Miles Dalton of Enterprise North Canterbury, part of the Regional Business Partner Network.
Starting a business takes resources. Before you start, you need to understand the business you’re getting into – what product or service you’re going to sell, who is going to buy it, how much it’s going to cost and what your income will be.
You should also be clear about what you’re trying to achieve personally by starting a business – do you want to build it up and sell it for a lot of money, or create something that will support your lifestyle or allow you to work part-time?
There are other key milestones when it’s good to review your goals and update your business plan. These include when you’re:
"Aim for a combination of personal goals and business goals in line with your values," says Dalton.
“When you have goals in place, it gives your business the direction it needs to thrive. What you go on to accomplish will reflect the reason you went into business in the first place,” he says.
Business start-up resources (external link) — Enterprise North Canterbury
"Think about personal goals that relate to your working life, and include these in your planning. This will help with deciding which paths to go down," says Dalton. Common personal goals include:
Common business goals include:
“The mixture of personal and business goals gives you a reference point for every decision you make,” says Dalton. “Every decision should actively move you towards achieving your goals or, at the very least, should not distract or detract from your goals.”
Grab a cuppa and sixty minutes to check progress towards your goals. This might be each month, each quarter or each year.
Once you’ve got your list of business goals, figure out how to achieve them. Be realistic. It might be helpful to break down the steps into smaller chunks.
Put a system in place to help you measure your goals and keep you on track. Don’t forget to reward yourself and any employees when you achieve your goals.
Before launching Common Ledger, Carlos Chambers and his team had an idea for software to streamline the information accountants received from their clients’ different programs. They spent six months speaking to accountants in New Zealand and Australia to understand their potential market and refine their product.
“We learned there was this really deep problem that accountants around the world were facing. That’s what we were looking for — huge problem and huge opportunity and a huge way to really help this industry move forward.”
The next step was to develop an 18-month plan and a three-to-five-year strategy to turn their start-up into a fully fledged company. They’ve since raised more than $1m and launched in both countries.
“We’re close to our targets on our initial forecasts. We’ve brought on the right board. We’ve hired the right team members. All these things are probably the result of thorough planning. We would never have been able to usefully create our strategy if we hadn’t done that first six months of research.”
Read Common Ledger’s full story — and those of other small businesses — on our case studies page: