Tips for Smart Goal Planning in 2018

Annual goal planning is essential to keep your business from stagnating. Here are some tips on creating goals that will lead to greater success in 2018.


As a business owner, you're likely entering the new year with a lot of goals in mind. But without a concrete plan for executing them, there's a risk that your ambitious plans will sputter out. How can you sort out your priorities and make goal planning work for you and your company?

Try these steps to make your goals a reality in 2018.

Assess Outcomes of Goals From the Past Year

A brief review of last year's business plan will highlight what you achieved and where you fell short of your objectives. What obstacles prevented you from reaching your goals? Is 2018 a good time to do more of the same or branch out into new areas? Review data related to operating costs and expenses, accounts payable, sales pipelines and the profitability of specific services or products, etc.

It's OK to officially pull the plug on any old goals that just didn't work out — better to call it quits than waste time pursuing an idea that doesn't pay off. Additionally, dust off ideas that still have merit and consider whether to revive them.

Start Brainstorming

Put fresh ideas and strategies on paper, along with a list of the desired outcomes. Don't hold back. Entertain all options and see which have the greatest potential impact.

Call a meeting and engage your front-line employees in this exercise, since they likely have insights not available to those at the top. Customer-facing employees see where time and money can be better spent to give your customers the best possible experience. Ask each of these employees to come into the meeting with one or two ideas so you're not starting the brainstorm from scratch.

Select a Few Goals and Create a Plan to Carry Them Out

Identify which goals are your top priority and lay out your plan for accomplishing them.

For example, if your goal is to retain top talent, you might list out the following steps:

  1. Conduct an industry analysis to make sure your compensation and benefits packages are competitive.
  2. Research low-cost perks (catered lunch once per week, ability to work remotely, etc.).
  3. Work with individuals to create a career development plan that increases their engagement with the company.

Goal planning efforts are most effective when you spell out specific steps, so create a narrowly focused to-do list to carry out each broader goal. Using a tangible planner, for example, can help you track the steps and your timeline for fulfilling them.

Communicate Your Goals

After you've put a set of objectives in place, make sure all employees understand what you're aiming for. Consider holding a new year's all-staff meeting to announce the objectives. List concrete ways in which employees can participate and help achieve them, and if it makes sense, offer incentives and team rewards for individuals who contribute to the work.

A new year is a time to start fresh. But you don't want your business goals to fall by the wayside before a few months are out. Take the time to consider your priorities, form a practical plan, and create a system that helps keep you committed to seeing the goal through.