By Debra Schweikowsky | January 2, 2024
January is a busy time of the year for businesses as they prepare for tax season, reviewing sales and performance metrics, reconciling statements, gathering receipts, and making sure at all transactions are recorded. Thus, business owners should consider taking the first two weeks of the new year to close out their books and schedule an appointment with their accountant or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) as soon as possible so they can focus on their business vision, growth, and goal setting for 2024.
Setting Goals for the New Year
The new year is here, now is a good time to strategize and set goals for your business. Goals are important for your business as they help you stay focused, give you direction, help you measure what you want to accomplish or achieve, and make you accountable which in turn helps you achieve success. January is a great time to review the past year and reflect what went right and what went wrong for the business. For the things that went right, celebrate what you have accomplished. For things that you felt did not go as planned, use the experience as a learning curve, make changes, pivot, and find solutions. This will help you in the decision-making process for setting your goals in the new year.
SWOT Analysis and SMART Goals
There are a lot of great tools and resources to help you in the process, including completing a SWOT Analysis and using SMART Goals models. A SWOT Analysis covers your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors which help you build on your strengths and learn how to minimize your weaknesses. Figuring out the cause of the weakness and then implementing changes could result in new strengths for the business. Then you have external factors, which are the opportunities and threats that your business faces. Opportunities can include new markets, new products, and new technology while threats can range from your competition to changes in trends. This is the section where you think about ways to overcome your threats and analyze on what you can do better. Focus on being resilient, especially with your opportunites.
After completing your SWOT analysis, the next step is to think about SMART Goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Goals can be short-term, from a few months to a year, over-lapping are mid-term goals which can be six months to two years, and long-term goals which can range from two to five years. Setting all three goals can be beneficial for the business but remember to include SMART goals in the process.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Setting Goals
Whether you want to increase revenue, expand your product line, enter new markets, or open a new location, creating clear goals and a plan of action is pivotal for business success. Below are a few questions that I suggest you ask yourself when creating those goals:
- Is your goal specific? Your goals need to be simple, clear, and to the point.
- Is the goal measurable? Make sure there is a way that you can track the goals you set.
- Can you accomplish the goal? Think about whether the goals you set are achievable and how exactly you will achieve them.
- Is it a realistic goal? Think about whether the goals you set are relevant, reasonable, and most important realistic. Yes, we all want to be millionaires, but we must be realistic when setting goals.
- Can you accomplish the goal within a specific timeframe? Don’t forget to think about time as you will need to give yourself the right amount of time to accomplish each goal.
Being a previous business owner for over 25 years, I would suggest completing the books in January, scheduling an appointment with your CPA and then moving on to assess past business performances, including what went well and what did not. Engaging with employees for feedback and input is also beneficial as it helps improve business processes, employee morale, and customer satisfaction. Revisiting and setting goals every year contributes to your business’ success.
If you have not set goals for your business, now is a great time to start whether you use the processes and business models above or other resources. Be objective, clear, and concise while thinking about best practices. Setting goals can provide purpose and direction for your business and help you achieve success.