Setting Goals for the New Year

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” – Lawrence J. Peter

As we head into a new year, it’s a good time to think of new goals, including setting your business goals. What are the secrets to setting effective goals? Make them lofty yet achievable, set metrics to use in determining success, and set time frames/deadlines.

What Makes an Effective Business Goal?

In the words of this article by TechTarget, a business goal is an articulated aim that a business wishes to achieve over a period of time. While this idea may seem trivial or obvious, it is important for businesses to set goals, as they help shape everyday activities and decisions. Goals give a sense of direction and aid in gauging success. More importantly, having a specific goal to work towards provides motivation to continually work and grind. But what are the attributes of an effective business goal? This article from Entrepreneur says to aim for the following qualities:

  • Specificity: The example they provide is that raising money is not a goal, but raising $10,000 by July 1 is.
  • Optimism: Phrasing your goal in a positive manner is essential. For example, rather than aiming to pay bills, aim for overall financial security.
  • Realism: Set realistic standards for your goals. Making an amount of money that you have never made before is unrealistic and will only serve to demoralize you when it is not achieved. Instead aim to grow by a specific percentage, and make incremental steps from there.
  • Short and Long-term Goals: Short-term goals are what you wish to achieve in the coming weeks, months, or year, and they can be steppingstones to long-term ones. Long-term goals are your substantially loftier aims that can be achieved in the distant future and are achieved by first attaining shorter ones.

Entrepreneur also mentions that there are several factors to consider when setting goals, such as:

  • how much money you have and wish to make in your first and each subsequent year
  • your lifestyle, such as your ability and willingness to travel
  • the number of hours you are willing to work, and investing in personal assets that can carry varying amounts of risk
  • the type of work such as being outdoors, in an office, large-scale, small-scale, etc.
  • the specific gratification that you are looking to get out of your business.

When set in an honest manner, these qualities and factors go a long way in making an effective business goal.

Best Practices

Although the mentioned qualities and factors are the essential building blocks to setting business goals, there are some best practices. This article by 15Five lays them out and states that, if you are not the company owner, having support from leadership is an absolute necessity, as executives must decide where they want to be in the marketplace and create a roadmap of how the business will get there. Getting executive support may take some convincing, but explaining how people are working inefficiently without clear goals, providing a productive solution, and showing how successful a team can be with this solution are steps in the right direction. The article also goes into detail on setting hard and soft goals, celebrating incremental and small wins, common missteps and how to avoid them, and achieving goals as a team. If you wish to read more on what they have to say, the article can be found here.


The new year is here, making this a great time to start setting new goals for your business. Being specific, optimistic and realistic are key, and understanding what you want out of your goals, plus having the backing of leadership, is crucial. When done correctly, there is arguably nothing more satisfying and fulfilling than setting and achieving goals.

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