Business Resolutions: What's Your Plan?

What are your 2014 business goals? Perhaps you'd like to increase your revenue, say by 25%. Or, you've decided to hire a full time Administrative Assistant. Maybe one of your goals is to launch a new product.

Goals are great. And the internet is full of tools to help you set "SMART" goals. 

But do you have a plan for reaching them? If not, you may get to the end of 2014 and still have the same goals you had at the beginning of the year.

How to Set a Plan for Achieving Your Business Goals

Just like your goals have to be realistic, your plan also needs to be realistic. What work do you have to do to reach each business goal? Do you have enough hours in the day for all of that work? Who else has to be involved? What will it cost? What milestones do you have to reach along the way?

A business plan (whether you already have one or not) is a useful tool for helping you reach your 2014 business goals – if you know the best way to use it. We've recently revised ours to support the growth of our business, but the exercise is still effective if you're just starting out. Here's what you can do:

1. Write Down All the Ways Your Business Makes Money

Do you sell products, services, or both? List all the things you sell, and if it's more than half a dozen or so, group them into related categories. These become your revenue streams. Now, how much income do you want to earn from each revenue stream? Write that down next to each category. 

2. Figure Out What It Costs to Run Your Business

List every expense you can think of, and don't leave things out because you think you can't afford them. Even if you're not planning to spend much on marketing now, you will have to (or want to) later, so create a budget for it in your business plan. If you come in under budget – good for you!

3. Decide What to Measure

It's not enough to set a revenue goal, sit back and wait for customers to show up at your door. Whether you spend money on advertising or just attend a lot of networking events, you have to do something to get people to buy your stuff. Whatever you choose to do, have some way of measuring its effectiveness. 

For example, if you need ten new customers a week to meet your revenue goals, you might have to generate 20 or 30 leads. By measuring how many leads you get from each networking event you attend or blog post you write, you can quickly gauge what types of marketing generate the most leads, and amp up the really effective ones while dialing back the ones that don't work as well.

The three items above form part of the Financial Analysis and Goals & Objectives sections of your business plan, which are the sections most likely to change each time you conduct a review.

In order to make your plan as useful benchmark for the launch or growth of your company in 2014, take these three steps at a minimum. Re-evaluate them quarterly and adjust as you need to. And don't forget to celebrate when you reach each target!