Many of us look at the New Year as the time to set personal resolutions, but it’s also a great moment to embrace new goals at our businesses, too. Setting goals—and meeting them—can be a powerful motivator as you grow your business.

Here’s how to put yours in place for 2019.

Get ready.

Making a conscious effort to look at your business with fresh eyes can help you think bigger. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut if you let past performance dictate future expectations.

Take a look at your effectiveness as a leader and of the overall performance of your business as objectively as you can. To choose the right goals, it helps to identify areas where there are opportunities for growth and improvement.

When it comes to your role at work and your actual business, ask yourself these questions.

  • Did you demonstrate any growth in 2018?
  • Did you see enough growth?
  • With an eye on building a stronger business, how would you prioritize your areas for improvement?
  • What resources do you need to move ahead?

Let’s say 2018 was the first year you added employees and you had to learn how to lead them. When looking how you did as a leader, you might look at:

  • Your success in coaching employees. Did you learn how to coach your team in a way that led to great business results and helped you build a strong culture?
  • What your office culture was like. Did people seem happy to come to work and inspired as they did their jobs?
  • How you handled the administrative and financial demands of having employees. Were you organized and on top of record keeping—or did you enlist the services of someone who is?
  • The impact of the new employees on cash flow. Were you always ready to make payroll or did you find yourself scrambling or skipping your paycheck to do so?

Get set.

Once you’ve taken stock of where you are, committing your goals to paper is essential. Choosing a theme—like “Excel as a leader,” “Build a Great Culture,” “Get Really Organized,” or “Double Revenue,” can help you stay focused.

Let’s say your number one goal is to grow a leader in 2019. List your number one goal for growing in that area — for instance, learning to communicate more clearly with your direct reports in writing and in meetings. Your number two might be to prioritize one-on-one coaching sessions with your key managers by scheduling them into your calendar regularly. Don’t list more than three for each area. Your better off with one goal you actually meet than 10 goals you never get to.

If you have goals for other areas of the business, list those, too, along with the key area where you want to improve within each area. For instance, maybe you’re hoping to double profits in 2019. Your main goal might be to set up a dashboard so you always know how the business is performing, profit-wise. Or it might be to discontinue working with the least profitable 10% of customers and redirecting your energy to doing more business with the most profitable 10%. List them in order of priority, so if you have to triage, you’ll stay focused on the most important ones.

Decide how you’ll keep score.

The only way to know if you’ve met your goals is to track your progress. There are certain numbers that matter most in every business in meeting its goals. These are often called “key performance indicators,” or KPIs.

Limit your KPIs to a small list, or it will be hard to stay on top of them. The point is to create a good snapshot of how your business is doing in the areas that matter most.

Let’s say you want to double revenue in 2019, without eroding profits. You might choose KPIs such as gross revenue and net income, and monitor how you are doing on those fronts on a regular basis, such as weekly and monthly.

But that’s not the only KPI you could use. If you know that doing more business with the top 10% of your best, most profitable customers was the best way to double revenue while protecting your profits, you might instead choose to track metrics like average revenue per customer and average profit per customer.

KPIs don’t have to be tied directly to your balance sheet. At a business where word-of-mouth marketing was most important to growth, a good KPI might come from an external tracking system, such as the Net Promoter Score, a measure of how readily customers would recommend the business to others.

And at a firm that was trying to recruit and hold onto great employees, the KPI that mattered most might be the company’s score on an employee satisfaction survey or the average tenure of a new hire.

You know your business, so pick the numbers that really matter in the end.


Setting goals is motivating, but what’s even more energizing is meeting them. Every Friday before you leave work or every Sunday, before you start the week, list the one most important action you will take toward your annual goals in your calendar for the coming week. For instance, if you want to do more business with your ideal customers to achieve a big revenue and profit goal, your one goal for the week might be to invite one of these customers to lunch or to schedule a catch-up call with them.

Even if these actions seem small, they will add up over time. If you have one lunch or conversation a week with a high-value customer, it will be hard not to bring in more revenue and profits.

In business, execution is everything. Setting the right goals and tracking your progress in meeting them can help you get more done than you ever dreamed possible.