This is the time of year when you should be reviewing the past year’s successes and challenges and setting your goals for next year. Imagine it is January 2025. What would your business look like? What is your vision – that mental image you create of how you see your firm in the future? Ask yourself how you will turn that vision into reality. Have you set your business goals? Do you have an action plan to reach those goals?
Often designers know what they want and may have the vision but they aren’t sure how to get there. You may have even set business goals and written them down, but you haven’t identified what steps are needed to achieve them. If that sounds like you, then make this new year different. Create that vision and set those goals. Then make sure you reach them by creating a plan of action.
What should you be doing right now to be sure you reach that vision for January 2025? Let’s dive into it.
First You Need to Set Goals
Goals are just dreams with deadlines. Entrepreneurs are often motivated to dream big and set high business goals. Yet time goes by, and they are not any closer to reaching those goals and living that dream. Why is that? Some people will say they don’t have time to write down their goals. If you don’t even have time to write down your goals, where are you going to find the time to accomplish them? When you write them down you turn those intangible dreams into a tangible reality. So be sure to write them down as a first step.
Goals Need to be SMART
Goals need to be SMART. That means they include five characteristics that help you focus and reassess your goals as needed. It leads to effective project management. This simple framework can be helpful for any team trying to practice effective project management. Those five characteristics are:
- Specific – Clear outcomes. Define what will be accomplished and what actions need to be taken to accomplish your goal. You will be more motivated and focused when your goals are clear.
- Measurable – You need to define what data you will use to measure the goal and how that data will be collected. Seeing results will be more meaningful and help to keep you motivated, as well as tell you if you’ve succeeded.
- Attainable – Setting lofty business goals is great but make sure that they are realistic to keep up your enthusiasm. Do you have the right skills and resources? If not, will you be able to acquire them? If the goal is too lofty, maybe you need to break it down into smaller segments.
- Relevant – Ask yourself if your business goals are aligned with your company’s mission. Don’t set goals just as an exercise. Define what the key benefit will be to your firm.
- Time-bound – Goals are dreams with a deadline. Without a deadline how will you evaluate success or failure? If that sounds too overwhelming, start by setting a first milestone. At that point you can set new goals.
Turn Those Business Goals into a Plan
A plan is the steps needed to reach your business goals. Remember that goals are action-oriented and need to produce results. As mentioned above they need to be specific – and they need a deadline. Maybe one goal is “Double my net income by December 31, 2024.” To make sure this is not just wishful thinking you need an action plan to achieve that goal.
How do You Create an Action Plan to Achieve Your Goals?
Identifying your goals is one thing. Even setting a loose outline can only be so helpful. To actually achieve your goals, you will probably need to create an action plan with steps you can take every day. This will bring you closer to your dreams, and help you from getting distracted.
Again, write down your goals
Write down your goals! Then prioritize those goals. Different types of business goals involve different types of planning, so identify which goals you want to accomplish first. Everyone has limited time and resources (personnel, financial, etc.). So, which of your goals is the most important?
Set progress deadlines and track your progress
Just as your goals should have deadlines, it is effective to break those goals down into smaller segments so you can check the progress. Your goal may be set for January 2025, but you can break that down into 90-day segments to chart your progress. What gets measured gets done, so track what really matters.
Share your business goals
Just as accountability partners are helpful in setting fitness goals, support can also be helpful in reaching your business goals. Obviously, you need to share your goals with your team as they are a key part of the success of your goals. But there may be others who also will help you reach your goals if you share it with them. And surrounding yourself with inspiring people who motivate you will help you reach your goals.
Identify the resources you need
Figure out what resources you need to acquire. Those resources might be finances, personnel, technology, or even time. Determining the resources you will need assures that you are not just creating a wish list. If your goal is to increase your net profit, then those resources may be goals themselves. In this example, the following resources might be part of your plan to reach that goal:
- You may need to add to your team. So you need to plan when you can hire, set up an organized hiring process along with an onboarding process to assure the success of your hire.
- Define Ideal Client Profiles to be sure you are targeting clients that fit your goal.
- You may need effective marketing to reach those Ideal Clients.
Refine your goal
Refining your goal requires being flexible. No successful plan remains fixed. Just as with a design project, challenges and obstacles often pop up. And just as with those projects, you need to be flexible and ready to adjust or create a backup plan.
Include rewards or incentives
Don’t underestimate the value of including rewards or incentives to motivate yourself or others. Be sure to set small milestones within your goal so you can celebrate those milestones. It helps to provide motivation and highlights the successes you may otherwise forget.
So, as you develop your business goals for the upcoming year, be sure that those goals are SMART. Then put a plan in place – a strong foundation – to be sure you are successful in reaching those goals.