The Many Business Benefits of Goal Setting

setting goals

You’ve probably made a whole slew of new year’s resolutions by now — to lose weight, save more money and otherwise to make 2014 an even better year than last. But don’t limit this annual rite to just your personal life — apply it to your business, too. 

It’s not just about achieving the goals themselves. Knowing your end goal, and figuring out how exactly you’ll get there, can catalyze much-needed changes along the way to your approach, your messaging, even the very structure of your business. 

To jump-start the new business year, we talked to three entrepreneurs, both seasoned and new, about how they use goals to help grow and strengthen their businesses. 

Add It Up 
Linda Pophal founded marketing communication consulting firm Strategic Communications, based in Wisconsin, in 2008. Her goal when she left her previous, six-figure-salary position was to generate the same level of income, which, she says, took her three years to achieve. In 2013, she earned double that revenue, and in 2014 she’s aiming for even more growth. Here’s how goal-setting has affected her bottom line. 

The biggest boost to my revenue came through setting process goals and putting numbers around them. Every week, I look at the dollar value of new projects I need to bring in, of billings I need to complete and revenue dollars I need to generate. Those figures themselves are based on my annual revenue goals. From there, I find a way to track my progress, and that means finding a way to measure what I’m doing. If I’m trying to bring in new projects, that means I set goals for number of cold calls made, of leads generated and of proposals sent. For one particular client’s PR, I might set a certain number of news releases to generate or placements to achieve.
 
Quantifying things this way enables you to respond quickly when something changes — a project wraps up, you lose an account, etc. You can see exactly what level of value you need from, say, new clients and direct your prospecting efforts accordingly. A ‘side benefit’ of this is that it helps to ensure that I leverage the value of my time most effectively. Fewer, higher-paying projects makes more sense than more, lower-paying projects.

Tracking my process this way allows me to measure my outcomes as well. And at the end of the day, that’s the real goal beyond the process goals.


Growth, Growth and More Growth
Sara Helmy is the founder of Tribu, a marketing and advertising agency in San Antonio, Texas. Her clients include Susan G. Komen, the city of San Antonio and Firstmark Credit Union. When she started the company in 2011, she was determined to avoid the general acceptance that as a business becomes larger, growth percentages shrink. Here’s why goal-setting is important to her business. 

Growth is everything for a young business. One of my goals is to meet or exceed the growth I experience each year. My company grew 290 percent in revenue from 2012 to 2013, so my goal for next year is to grow our revenue another 290 percent. Setting the bar so high means that everyone’s expectations are very high. The whole company knows the goal. As a result, we chase sales and new clients very intensely to meet them.

You grow your business in two ways: You’ve got your potential clients and your existing clients. The majority of the team is responsible for retaining and growing the business we have with existing clients. Most of our growth comes from that. My job, personally, is the other side of the equation, which is getting new customers in the door for the first time. So if, unfortunately, we lose a client, I know that I need to find a new, equally big client to replace that business. Or several that make up for that one — whatever it takes. 

Setting goals this way keeps us hungry, persistent and focused in the way we pursue our work. 

Remembering What It’s All About 
Dina Dwyer-Owens is based in Waco, Texas, and is chairwoman and CEO of The Dwyer Group, a multi-million-dollar franchisor with more than 1,500 locations worldwide. She’s also twice appeared on CBS’s “Undercover Boss.” Dina is a huge proponent of goal-setting, enough that she even teaches a class on the subject for her employees and franchisees. Here’s why. 

Ours is a franchise business, which means you have to lead by example and also make sure the company’s mission and values get transmitted throughout the entire organization. Setting company goals or personal goals for myself is only part of the process. I also encourage others to set and achieve their goals. For this purpose, I personally lead a goal-setting class called “Design Your Life,” which everyone from our corporate staff down to our franchisees are encouraged to attend and maintain. More than 800 people attended the class in 2013. 

Also, like most companies, The Dwyer Group has an official mission statement and vision; however, unlike most companies, we also have a Code of Values that each employee is urged to know and follow by heart and with heart. The Code of Values is a set of specific principles that we work hard to live by every day. We believe that setting high standards for both our personal and professional lives we can strive to be better people and a better company. Even if we are not always able to live up to those standards, having great goals that are just out of reach are better than having a low standards that we can easily meet.
 
So far, living by our Code of Values is working well for us. In 2013, we broke yet another record level of revenue for our brands, and I’m happy to report that this has been a recurring trend over the last three years. Last year The Dwyer Group also helped almost 200 entrepreneurs open new franchises in the North America alone.

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