Setting business goals: How to be successful in the new year

A new year is a great time to set goals, make lasting changes, and commit to growth both personally and professionally. In fact, research shows that the “fresh start effect” motivates people to change their behavior when confronted by temporal landmarks like new years or birthdays. 

Since it is already ingrained in you to set goals for the new year, the team at Sawyer wants to give you the tools you need to make them stick. We work with thousands of children’s activity and education businesses to build, manage, and grow their companies. Setting business goals is a huge piece of that success. Keep reading to see some business goal examples and a template you can use to set yourself up for success in the new year and beyond.

The importance of setting goals

Why should you even set goals for your business? Of course you want to do well, make money, and help more children discover their love of learning. However, without specific goals in mind, you might feel a bit lost at sea. Here are the top 3 reasons why setting business goals is important to your success as a company.

Goals are important to your team

If you have a team of employees, we highly recommend including them in your goal-setting sessions so that they can feel personally connected and understand how their own individual contributions will help the company reach its goals. This is one of the best ways to motivate and retain employees so you can reduce turnover.  Once employees are involved in the big picture planning, they are more likely to stay and work to help these goals come to fruition.

Goals keep you accountable

When you set goals for your business, you have something to work towards as you move through the year. Especially with your team involved, goals are a great way to keep yourself and your employees accountable to what you want to accomplish. We recommend that you write your company goals on a whiteboard or large pieces of paper and put them in easily visible places so everyone can keep them top of mind.

Goals help you embrace little wins

As a small business owner, it might feel like you are constantly fighting an uphill battle. Setting manageable goals gives you the opportunity to check items off of your list and celebrate small wins throughout the year. There are psychological benefits to celebrating these little victories. The Harvard Business Review explains that even just recording progress boosted employees’ self-confidence and motivated them.

Photo of setting business goals

Business goals examples

Now that you know about the importance of setting goals, you can learn how to set business goals that you and your team will actually accomplish.

SMART goals

To start, you want to make sure that your goals follow the SMART goal format.

S = Specific

The more specific your goal is, the more likely you are to achieve it. Utilize quantification as much as you can so that you can avoid being too general.

M = Measurable

How will you measure your success? Make sure that your goals can be tracked so you can understand your progress and celebrate when you’ve hit certain benchmarks. 

A = Attainable

This is one of the most important aspects of your goal. Can you actually accomplish it? If your goal is too far-reaching then you (and your team) will lose motivation and your success rate will diminish.

R = Relevant

Why are you setting this goal? How will it help your business grow or improve? Relevancy is also important when you have a team of employees because they want to know that they are working towards goals that will actually have an impact on the company.

T = Time-based

Putting time constraints on your goals helps you to have a clear timeline and keeps you and your team on schedule. A defined timeframe also reinforces the need for your goals to be attainable and trackable.

Let’s put the SMART framework into action with some business goal examples.

Business goal example #1 - Increasing enrollment

SMART goal: I will enroll 5 new students to my preschool art class each month so that I can increase my enrollment numbers and prove viability of the preschool art class.

Why is this a SMART goal?

  • Specific: Quantified the number of students and specified the class in focus.
  • Measurable: Will be measured by the number of new students enrolled.
  • Attainable: The number of students is not too high.
  • Relevant: This goal makes sense for the company’s future success, specifically of the preschool art class.
  • Time-based: The goal turns over each month, which gives a time constraint and the ability to celebrate or regroup at the end of each month.

Looking for support on growing enrollment for your children’s activity or education business? Our guide has everything you need to get your name out there and increase bookings. And if you need support writing your business budget, we have you covered!

Business goal example #2 - Getting more customer reviews

SMART goal: I will gather customer reviews from 3 parents after each class through post-class phone calls, emails, and surveys to be used for our online business pages as well as marketing purposes.

Why is this a SMART goal?

  • Specific: Quantified the number of reviews, when they will be collected, and how they will be collected.
  • Measurable: Will be measured by the number of reviews received after each class.
  • Attainable: The number of reviews is not too high.
  • Relevant: This goal includes information about how it will help the business grow and improve. It also gives insight into how it will be accomplished.
  • Time-based: Reviews will be collected after each class.

This is a great goal for any new or young small businesses. If you are looking for information on how to ask customer for reviews or why user-generated content is important, check out our resources.

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Business goals template

Now, you should be ready to create your own SMART business goals. Use this business goals template to get started.

General: What are you trying to accomplish?

Then, with your team or by yourself, figure out how to fill out your SMART framework:

  • Specific =
  • Measurable = 
  • Attainable =
  • Relevant =
  • Time-based =

Put it all together to create your SMART goal:

SMART goal: 

Photo of business goals template

With our tips, examples, and template, you should be well on your way to setting up business goals that are achievable for you and your team. If you are looking for guidance on managing or growing your children’s activity or education business, check out the tools and resources offered by Sawyer. Sign up for a demo or a free trial to see how we can help you.

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