Happy 2015! Once again, we’re at the top of the calendar and the entire year is ready to unfold before us. Traditionally, January is the time for making resolutions. Unfortunately, most are not kept and some are not acted upon at all. I encourage you to think about the kind of year that will make you proud and resolve to bring as many successes as possible into your life. I respectively recommend that you should be optimistic, realistic and proactive in that process. Plant seeds for success as you develop SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely — that will serve as your road map this year.
1. Be specific
Telling yourself that you want to “grow the business” or “make more money” is entirely too vague. How much and what kind of “growth” or “money” will be meaningful and achievable for your business over the next 12 months? Are you looking to increase the amount of your monthly or quarterly billable hours? Is your goal to expand your client list? Are you in search of perhaps fewer, but more lucrative assignments? Would you like to add more prestigious clients to your roster? All of those factors have the potential to stimulate business growth and bring in more money.
Specify and quantify the type of growth that you seek for your business and how much you aim to attain. Would you like to increase your client list by 10%? Increase gross sales by 20%? Add one Fortune 500 client to your roster? Increase prices for existing clients by 5% and new clients by 8%? Assess your top line (gross sales), bottom line (net profit) and client list and consider what will be beneficial for the business; what is possible for you to impact; and determine which criteria will be used as the barometer of success.
2. Take action
Cutting costs, creating operational efficiencies, clarifying your marketing message, stepping up your networking efforts, pursuing referrals, raising prices and revitalizing social media activities are among the strategies that you will evaluate, prioritize and perhaps pursue as you develop action plans and move forward on your goals. For every goal that you set, create an action plan with time table.
3. Shoot for the stars
Aim high and set ambitious goals, but be reasonable. Setting unattainable goals is not helpful. It is unlikely that you will add 30 clients to your roster in a year, but if your business is one with a long sales cycle, adding three new clients would be a real victory.
4. Review quarterly
Reality will impact your goals along the way, so it will make sense to periodically evaluate your progress to plan and make any necessary adjustments. Monitor your measuring sticks and find out what is working and what may not produce the desired results. Are there any goals that have not shown progress at the 3 month mark? Do you know why that is so? Pay attention to your progress, or lack thereof, throughout the year, to help keep yourself focused on achieving what you set out to do. Reward yourself when milestones are reached, to maintain your motivation and enthusiasm. Maybe there is a conference that you’ve wanted to attend previously, but were unable to budget? Increased sales may fund that item on your wish list and your business will benefit even more that you planned.
Start now and draft your business goals and do all that you can to make 2015 a rewarding year.
Thanks for reading,