Bonus episode | Host Emily Washcovick does a quick deep dive into a topic affecting small businesses, sharing small but mighty changes you can implement in your business.
In episode five of the “Biz Bites” series, we discuss tactical advice for small businesses on setting achievable goals for the new year. There needs to be a balance of both big-picture objectives and detailed planning. First, select a manageable number of goals, and break them into actionable steps. Regular check-ins and adjustments along the way ensure these goals remain on track. The episode also takes you inside a year of goal tracking with language services company, Diàfano.
Hey there. I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert and the host of this podcast, Behind the Review.
Welcome to “Biz Bites,” our biweekly extra episode where we share a few minutes of tactical advice about topics affecting small business owners..If you have a topic or question that you’d like us to cover on Biz Bites, send me an email! You can reach me at Podcasts@yelp.com. We’d love to hear from you – and just for submitting a question we’ll send you a link to request a copy of one of our current business book giveaways.
Now, let’s dive right in. Biz Bites episode five: Kicking off the new year with some new goals, and performance planning.
The New Year is always a time when people are talking about resolutions and goals and things they want to accomplish over the course of the next year. And I think it’s a great time to do that same thing for your business. We want to capitalize on that energy!
But it’s really important to go into this process looking at things from a big picture perspective as well as a detailed perspective.
And it’s also really important to make sure that we don’t just do this to jumpstart the year. Goals are something that we want to check in on regularly. Maybe for you it’s monthly, or quarterly. So this is just the start. The launching of your key goals and targets for the year.
To start the process, you want to think of some short and long term goals that you want to accomplish. Don’t overwhelm yourself with tons of items and possibilities. Come up with a realistic number that you can map out and stick to. So maybe it’s three. That’s probably what I would start with.
And when you’re thinking about what these goals are, they could be something about revenue and sales. Maybe you want your store to do an average of X amount in sales every single day, or week.
Maybe it’s a goal about company culture. For example, maybe you want to come up with core values for your company and start talking about them with your team members so that everyone can speak to them at the end of the year – and talk about how they are a part of those core values.
It could also be something simple like organization and the aesthetics of how your business looks. Maybe you just want your cash register area to be clean and organized. Maybe we’re going to have a place for everything that your team members use. And everything is going to be returned to that place at the end of the shift. You might need to update shift checklists. You’ll probably need to talk to your employees about it. Definitely more than once. Give them reminders.
These are the types of projects that we’re talking about. Maybe it’s even something a little less tangible. Like, “I want to be more active on social media to promote my business.”
No matter what it is, I want you to start by naming these three goals, and write them down. Again, if you want to do more, if you just want to do one. But my advice is to start with something manageable.
Now, once you’ve named these goals, we need to break them down to the simple steps that can make it happen. So a goal isn’t just going to be one thing you do and you check it off the list as successful. It’s something that you want to achieve and there’s going to be tons of little steps you’re going to have to take to get there.
So we’re going to have to break those little steps down. What can you or one of your employees do this week to start working towards that goal? And what’s the next check in time to see how you’re progressing on the goal?
For me personally, I always need to know when I’m checking back in with other people that I collaborate with whenever we’re working on a project. And goals are the same way. If different people have to take different steps to make the goal happen, having those check in points along the way can keep everyone accountable. It can also help you readjust your goal or shift over time if you need to.
At the end of the day, goal setting is all about giving some thought and focus to what you want to accomplish, and then breaking it down into actionable steps that you can take piece by piece to help you achieve your goal.
So let’s look at a business example of someone I’ve worked with over the last year to help achieve a handful of goals. A dear friend of mine, her name is Irma, she’s the founder of a business called Diàfano. And they’re a language services company. So sort of like a Rosetta Stone, but an independently owned business that can provide that additional support, those hands-on teacher experiences, and really a resource for anyone who wants to learn languages.
The goals that Diàfano and Irma set out for 2023 were pretty lofty. One of them was to just in general, gain more clients in a specific industry. Another was to secure six figure contracts. So these are pretty broad goals, but I’m going to break down each of them and talk a little bit about how we achieved them in a step by step process.
So first, gaining more clients in a specific industry. It’s pretty general, and not necessarily a trackable goal when you state it that way. But what we did at the start of the year was we put together a pitch specifically for how Diàfano could be a good fit for this industry that they were looking to go after, and offer language classes for their employees. And in order to create that, we had to break it down a little bit. We had to talk about what that pitch was going to look like, what type of information it needed. And then Irma’s team had to go and grab various pieces of information for her to compile that resource.
The next step was to actually go and source contact information for that industry. And that was pretty general, just going on the internet and looking up contact info. And then sending those pitches out and trying to see what sort of conversations can land and what sort of appointments can get scheduled for Diàfano to chat and see if they’re a good fit.
Now again, the goal was general. Just to gain more clients in a specific industry. We decided we were going to check in quarterly on that goal. But we had to break the goal down into actionable steps first. Creating the pitch sheet, finding out who the prospects are that we want to pitch, sending the pitches, and then actually scheduling those appointments, seeing if they could lock them in as clients, and we would check in on that.
Let’s go to that second goal of theirs: secure six figure contracts. That kind of felt like a big goal when we mapped it out. I remember Irma telling me, I just want clients that are going to pay me big contract amounts. And I said, “well, do you have annual contracts?” She said no.
So that was a really easy way to go after this goal. The goal was broad and general. Secure six figure contracts. The way to make that happen could have been a variety of ways, but in my mind, the easiest way was to have a client commit to a year. That’s automatically going to make the base of what the contract is higher. This was an easy implementation that Diafeno was able to do. They actually had data that showed why this was a better choice for clients. But again, they needed to put together the information and then they needed to go out and educate their existing clients on why they should be doing annual contracts.
And they also needed to modify their other pitches to direct prospects towards annual contracts. So instead of giving these options now to sign up month to month, they’re really showing people why an annual contract makes sense. And by doing that, both with new clients, as well as going to existing clients and bringing them up to date with this approach, we were able to secure six figure contracts in multiple ways.
So again, this process of goal setting can start very general. And you could have a big goal for the year. But it needs to also be broken down into tactical steps to help you achieve those goals.
Lots of people believe in setting big, ambitious goals so that no matter what, you’re going to achieve something. The thought is if you’re stretching further than is possible for you to accomplish, you’re going to accomplish big things. I think there’s definitely some value to that, but overall I’d like to look at those as stretch goals. Definitely something to shoot for, but we know that it’s a stretch. Things we can shoot for and still have realistic and achievable goals that we can hit and feel good about.
Honestly, feeling good about these little accomplishments along the way is a huge part of making those big accomplishments happen. We need that short term validation to keep the progress moving. And we need to see the impact and the effect of these goals in order to want to keep achieving them.
A big way to do this, while still being realistic, is to keep your goals measurable. You’ve maybe heard the term before, SMART goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound.
What it really means is, your goals need to be something that you can look at, work against, and then see how you’re doing. If you don’t actually state what you want to achieve, it’s going to be hard to get there. And if you don’t give yourself a time period that you want to achieve it in, it’s going to be hard to tell how you’re doing. It’s also going to be really hard to break those tasks down into smaller steps if you don’t think of your goals as requiring these small steps to achieve them.
By keeping goals measurable and having check ins planned with the other shareholders to make your goals possible, you can ensure that those small steps are being taken so that the big goals can be accomplished.
Goal setting is definitely a challenge. But if you take the time to map out some things that you want to accomplish, I think you’ll see how writing it down and breaking it down will help you get more done.
Remember, New Year is a great time to start thinking about this stuff, but it’s not the only time, and it shouldn’t be the first and last time that you check in on your goals this year.
So, set a few. What are three things you want your business to do in 2024? And what are some short term things you can do to take action on that big goal?