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How to Keep your New Year’s Business Resolution in the 21st Century

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By Hector Cisneros

Every year, millions of businesses set their sights on their biggest achievements for the upcoming year, but only a few actually achieve their goals. Why is this? Why do some companies succeed at a very high level while others languish and struggle to make ends meet? Is it luck? Is it the grace of God? Or can all of it be attributed to research, planning, goal setting and maintaining focus on their goals. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore why and how companies succeed at meeting their business goals. We will look at what needs to be done to achieve a high level of success, and we will lay it out so that any business who wants to succeed can do it, so let’s get started.

The Initial Planning Phase

Let’s start with what you want to achieve. A great plan encompasses both long-term, annual goals and short-term step goals. Having a big hairy long term goal without creating annual goals or understanding the foundational steps needed to reach the big goal is a sure-fire way to get lost. At my company, we engage in four planning sessions a year. We begin with creating the annual theme and goal for the whole year. We then map out our quarterly goals (our step goals) and further break down the quarterly goals into monthly and weekly goals. For some, it’s easier to work backward from the bigger goal by looking at what must be achieved before each quarterly step, than it is to figure out what’s needed at the very beginning of the whole process.
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Another important aspect of this initial planning process is creating realistic financial goals to go with the project's goals. This includes sales quotas, expenditures, advertising, training needs, transportation and other expenses. Sometimes looking at the financial figures helps you to include all the necessary elements needed to make a realistic annual goal. 

Useful Resources

If you have never done this kind of planning before, it‘s a good idea to get some help. Your local colleges often have programs to help businesses engage in planning as does the local chambers of commerce. In Northeast Florida, U.N.F. has the SBDC (Small Business Development Center). The local Chambers of Commerce also sponsor two useful programs call Marketing Matters and Financial Matters. These programs can help businesses understand the process and help businesses walk through the development of a sound business plan.

Along these same lines, hiring a business coach or a CFO can also be a Godsend to established businesses that feel they are stuck in second gear and are not making progress. We have been using Steve Goranson with Action Coach International, to help us with our planning for more than five years now, and it has helped us stay on track. For larger companies, say in the 2 million dollars a year phase of business a good CFO can make a huge difference. A friend of mine named Tom Comollo has a company called Trusted CFO Services. He goes in and analyzes what a company is doing and looks to discover why they are stuck. He then shows them how to move forward past their challenges so they can make it to the next level.

If your challenge is primarily marketing, some marketing companies will produce a Free marketing analysis to help you understand your position, marketing cost, and options. We do this for our prospects as a way to get our foot in the door. Our Web Presence analysis looks at 15 key marketing factors to help them understand what they are doing now and what they need to do to reach their goals. This is a free service.

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It's Time to Get SMART

Now that we have discussed where to start, we want to look at some of the details that must be adhered to if you want to succeed. First and foremost, your goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. goals. Depending on who you talk to, the acronyms for S.M.A.R.T. can stand for several things. According to an article by Duncan Haughey, S.M.A.R.T. stands for;

- specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
- time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

This explanation covers all the definitions I have ever seen for the acronym S.M.A.R.T. so you should get the idea. The whole point of using S.M.A.R.T. goals is that the more closely you can envision the details needed to achieve your goals, the more likely it is that you will engage in the behavior needed to achieve those goals.

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Now I want to talk about each of these acronyms and how business often fail at creating real S.M.A.R.T. goals. Let’s start with S for Specific. A goal needs to be very specific. It can’t be just a range of numbers or a phrase like, make more money. It needs to be an exact goal (like a million dollars in sales). It can include a percentage figure like 20% growth in revenue and so on. It should also be important to your business, and it should not be an easy goal to reach. The more detail you can include, the more likely you will achieve the goal.

M is for Measurable. What you measure is very important because what is measured will be your daily, weekly and monthly point of focus. If you measure the wrong thing, you will fail. For example, if your branding your business, it's OK to track page views, click through rate, impressions, engagement, share, and comments. However, if you're selling something, you must track, leads, form fills, phone calls and closed sales. All too often companies don’t set up ways to track which ads, web pages, social sites, or videos are producing their traffic or engagement. They will use one phone number and one form for all their web properties, TV, radio and print ads. This makes it very hard to distinguish which marketing message is working the best. Rarely do small businesses do A/B testing on their ads or web properties. Again, understanding what you’re really measuring is the key to achieving real success.

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The A stands for Attainable and action oriented.  It covers a lot of ground. Your goals must be realistic and acceptable at the same time. They need to be agreed upon by your whole team, or someone will be sabotaging your goal. Also, your goal needs to include all the action steps need to make it happen. Often, I see people say I want to sell 100k of XYZ product. When I ask them how will they do that, they usually say something vague like, I will work real hard to get there. Understanding and executing the engaging, actionable and specific steps are what will get you to your goal. Knowing them is a start, doing them is what makes things happen.

R stands for realistic and relevant. It must be a reachable goal, and it must be pertinent to the overall success of the business. It should also make you stretch to reach it. Too often I see pie in the sky goals or worse, weak, easy goals, because people don’t like to fail. For example, they might set a goal to sell the same amount of the easiest items they offer, based on sales figures they know can easily be achieved. Goals need to be set so that they make the business grow and prosper. Anything else is just spinning your wheels.

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The last letter is T, and it stands for Time. All goals must have boundaries.  A time limit is critical. Otherwise, your goals are just wishes. They also need to be timely meaning that they will be accomplished within a relevant time frame. If the goal is part of an annual goal, it needs to be accomplished within a year. If it’s a quarterly or weekly goal that is when it must be reached. Saying something like sometime in 2017 doesn’t cut it.

Useful Tools

Now let’s look at some tools that will help you achieve your S.M.A.R.T. goals. The first one I want to mention is your calendar. Once you have created your goals, make sure you populate the goal milestones on to your calendar. This also includes adding things like to do list, resource list and contacts needed. You may find that you need to add some plugins to your calendar, or you may even have to upgrade your capabilities by purchasing a CRM (customer relations management database system).

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If you’re feeling overwhelmed, get some help as I mentioned at the beginning of this article. If your goals include marketing, make sure that any company you are using is engaged and signed on to your S.M.A.R.T. goals. Making sure your goals are congruent with your marketing program is critical. Just telling them that you need 100k in sales isn’t going to cut it. Your marketing company needs to know all the facts as well. For example; they need to know the customers KPI’s (key profit indicators). This includes things like, what is the value of a customer (over a year and lifetime value), what is their closed sales ratio, and how many leads are needed to reach the desired goal.

Get The Message Right

On top of that, they need to make sure they have a marketing message that is compelling and proven. They need a compelling offer and good focused marketing message.  This
often requires market testing, something most small companies feel is too expensive (or that it’s a waste of money). However, the reality is this; if they don’t do the market testing, then their advertising is the only test they have. At Working the Web to Win, we begin our business relationship with clients by first conducting pre-marketing research so that we understand what the customer’s strengths are, what their challenges are, what their competition is doing, what their goals are and what size budget they have to work with. We provide a 15-point web presence analysis to answer their questions before we propose any solution. In most cases, we will provide several options to meet their budgetary needs. This process allows us to provide a cost-effective customer solution. On top of that, it allows us to match our exclusive proprietary technologies to their needs and at the same time provide guarantees that make sure their goals are met.

If your company is struggling with setting and achieving goals, follow the steps laid out in this article. If you’re really having trouble getting started, get some help.  We provide our Web presence analysis free of charge, and many of the programs listed in this article are very cost effective for even a startup micro business. If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091 or fill out the form in the sidebar of this blog, we will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results.
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That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

In this article, I have discussed the steps necessary to create and accomplish your annual business goals.   Listed are more than a dozen other important principles and steps that will ensure your great results. These goal setting and implementation principles will help guide any business down the road of success. Following them makes achieving your goals easier, less frustrating and can propel your business to the next level.

If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. You can find other articles on our blog by typing in “marketing” or “Advertising” in the search box at the top of this blog. If you have a useful comment or opinion related to this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog.  Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+.

Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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