Setting goals is one of the most important activities for a business owner. Regardless of how long you’ve been in business, where you’re located or what you sell, goals help you remain focused and keep your business moving forward. Although goal-setting is something that can and should be done year-round, the start of a new year is an especially good time to begin planning for what you’d like to accomplish in the weeks, months and years to come. Here are a few small business goals to get you started.

Become More Productive

Your productivity level has a direct impact on your company’s bottom line. Aiming to ramp up productivity is always a wise business goal because it will set the stage for better performance, increased growth and higher profits. You can accomplish this goal a number of ways, such as eliminating workplace distractions, optimizing business practices and utilizing better technology.

Lower Expenses

This goal is important for companies of all sizes, but particularly small businesses. Obviously, the less money you have going out of your business, the more quickly your profit margin will rise. Lowering business expenses can be accomplished a variety of different ways, like reducing your debt, renegotiating contracts and adopting a leaner business approach. The key here is to be specific on not just the what, but also the how.

Improve Customer Service

You may already have a great process in place to keep your customers happy, but there’s always room for improvement in that area. Set a goal for transforming your customer service process from good to great, or great to exceptional. Make a pledge to handle customer complaints in a more efficient and effective way. Or, consider adopting a CRM solution to help streamline your processes. If you’re not sure which direction to go, try asking your customers for feedback to learn how your business could be doing better.

Boost Marketing

Just because what you’ve been doing all along may still be working doesn’t mean there aren’t better, more effective or more efficient ways. This is particularly the case with marketing. You could easily be wasting your precious marketing budget on activities that aren’t netting you the results other methods might be capable of. Start the year right by conducting a marketing audit, and then commit to making changes wherever possible. Investing in marketing automation may also help make your goals more attainable.

Increase Your Market Share

Tapping into a larger portion of your chosen market is a great goal to have for the coming year because it will help you become more profitable. There are many different ways you can increase your market share, whether it’s launching a new product, expanding your service offering or opening an additional location. Figure out which strategy makes the most sense for your business and then get it on the calendar as one of your goals.

Last, but certainly not least, as you’re defining and documenting your goals for the New Year, it’s helpful to follow the acronym ‘SMART,’ which stands for:

  •         Specific
  •         Measurable
  •         Attainable
  •         Relevant
  •         Time-Based

For instance, instead of just listing “increase sales” as your goal, make it SMART by saying you want to increase sales by 3% each quarter. This will ensure that you are able to track your progress and make any necessary tweaks along the way, which will improve your odds of accomplishing what you set out to do in 2018 and beyond.