Small Biz Advice: Setting Goals for 2013

holly-photo-280x290Holly Howard runs Ask Holly How, a small business consulting company based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn that works with a wide variety of businesses from restaurants to retail to art studios and pretty much everything in between. Her clients report increased income and profit, decreased expenses and a significantly better quality of life. Holly also heads up the Small Business Book Club at McNally Jackson Books and teaches business classes at The Yard in Williamsburg. She is hosting an open house at The Yard tonight, starting at 7pm. 

Dear Holly,

I am a solo entrepreneur, working to develop a new smart phone app.  I launched my business this year, and am hoping to make 2013 a very productive and lucrative year.  The problem is that I don’t necessarily have a clear plan yet, and I want to make sure to put something together before the New Year begins.  What is the best way that I can guarantee to see success in the New Year?

Thanks,

Onward and Upward in 2013

Dear Onward,
I’m sure a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners are right where you are this time of year.  Even if you are a solo entrepreneur and not leading a team, you must have a road map for your business.  This will be your guide in the New Year.  It doesn’t mean things won’t change as you progress, but you can’t go blindly into the year or you’ll waste time and money.  Get clear on what you want out of 2013 now.  We all have high hopes for success in 2013, but we may not know exactly how to make that happen.  Here’s what you should do:

First, set your goals for 2013 and give them a hard deadline.  Think about what December 31, 2013, looks like and feels like. What will you accomplish by this date? Be realistic here.  You want to stretch yourself when you set goals so that you make sure that you are continually evolving, but you must also be realistic about this. If you have unrealistic expectations, you will most certainly set yourself up for disappointment. I suggest you set three to five goals for the year that will stretch you, but aren’t necessarily out of reach.

Second, get specific.  You want to be sure that your goals aren’t broad i.e. “I’ll create the best app ever.”  Instead, make sure your goals are measurable. If you do want to create the best app ever, how will you measure that?  For instance, you could measure how many users will purchase this app or what type of rating the app will receive from the users.  Goals are useless if they cannot be measured.  So for each of the goals you choose, make sure you are able to quantify them.

Finally, once you have set your goals and know what the end of 2013 looks like, work backwards and lay your roadmap for success.  Write down the actions you need to take each quarter or even month in order to reach your end of year goals.  You don’t need to know every single step, but try to come up with at least three actions you can take per quarter that will help you achieve your goals.  Again, this will be flexible as you progress, but having a guide will be invaluable in the New Year.

Good luck with this.  Goal setting is something that every business needs to do, yet most overlook the value that it actually brings.  Taking just a short amount of time to get clear on 2013 will give you a much greater chance for success in the New Year.

Best,

Holly