It’s January, the time for new beginnings, resolutions, and goal setting. The desire to make improvements to our lives and our businesses this month generally starts off as a fully fueled fire. Unfortunately, as the days pass, the fire starts to burn out. Once it’s gone we seek the comfort of our old ways waiting for next January to roll around and start anew and turns into a vicious circle that produces very little results.
Where do we go wrong?
There are numerous reasons why many of us will fail by February. The two most common reasons are:
1. We have bitten off more than we can chew.
2. We have set broad goals with no clear direction.
How do we get on the right track?
Setting yourself and your business up for the upcoming year takes time. The changes you want to make will not happen over night and to succeed you’ll need to make a clear, concise plan that spans across the calendar.
By now you’ve probably already made a list of things you want to do differently this year. If you haven’t you’ll want to get on that. Ask yourself these questions:
1. What did I do well last year?
2. Where did I fail last year?
3. What improvements can I make to succeed and grow this year?
Knowing what you have done well in the past will help you determine where change is needed. You can only plan for the future once you know where you have been. Pay special attention to the answer you produce for questions 2 and 3 above. Identifying where you went wrong will help you seek out opportunities for change.
It’s time to be honest with yourself about how your company preformed. While there may be some overlap, the responses to question 3 will contain that long laundry list of ideas that you have wanted to work on. These may be new products or services that you want to offer, a general growth plan, an increased marketing and promotional plan and so on.
The answers to question 2 and 3 will be your starting point for setting out your goals for the year. These responses are your broad goals. The next step is to give your goals direction. It is easy to say that you want to improve customer service. We will fail at this goal because it is too general. There is no clear plan or direction on how you will provide better customer service. Break it down into the actions required to provide your customers better service.
Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realist, and Timely. The S.M.A.R.T. Principle, for goal setting, will allow you to make and develop a plan that will be broken down into smaller steps. Your broad goal of improving customer service will now include steps on how you will accomplish that. You may need to focus on returning customer calls quicker, implementing a Customer Loyalty Program, communicating more frequently with customers through social media and blogging. All of these little steps lead up to and help you accomplish your goal. By breaking things down into manageable baby steps you’ll be able to focus on one step at a time. You’ll also be able to set realistic target dates to keep you on track. Once each of the steps is complete, you will have fulfilled your goal.