It is time to start thinking about 2017 and setting business goals. We all have a tendency to over-reach as January approaches, setting wild goals that we give up on half-way through the month, so it is important to be realistic in our aims. Below we examine how to set yourself realistic quarterly and yearly goals, as well as lead and lag goals.

Setting SMART goals

Perhaps the most common method for goal setting is by using the SMART method, which stands for:

  • Specific – be clear in what you want to achieve
  • Measureable – you should be able to measure the success of your goals
  • Achievable – make sure your goals are challenging, but achievable
  • Relevant – is your goal actually relevant to your business and overall aims?
  • Time-bound – make sure you set yourself a specific deadline with your goals

If you follow the above steps, it is much easier to set realistic goals, stick to them and, ultimately, achieve them. Without following a clear structure, businesses tend to set wild goals with no deadline for realistic aims, and so employees always fall short.

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, said “We are the most focused company that I know of or have read of or have any knowledge of. We keep the amount of things we focus on very small in number so that we can put enormous energy behind the ones we do choose.”

The key here is to be simple, be realistic and be kind to yourself! If your goal is to make your first million then fine, but how achievable is that right now? What steps can be taken to achieve that?

Keeping your goals time-bound and measureable is extremely important, because it makes them accountable and allows you to critique when processes are not going right. It is useful to set a yearly goal for what you want to have achieved by the end of 2017, but break this down further into quarterly goals and even monthly/weekly goals to help keep everyone focused and on track day-by-day.

Lead and lag goals

Lead and lag goals, also called lead and lag indicators, are two different types of measurement that you can use to determine your business’ success.

  • Lag goals: This is the measurement of the result that you are trying to achieve, and the end goal will lag behind all of the total results of the smaller goals together. By the time that you get the data on the result of the goal, it has already happened, and so will always be lagging behind.
  • Lead goals: These are goals which are used to foretell a result, and are much more easily influenced and predictive. I.e., if we want to make more sales, we make more sales calls. Completing one of these goals will lead to a bigger goal.

Both are useful goals to consider and have in mind for your business as just another way to keep your success measured and realistic. Lag goals are easy to measure as you have either achieved the result or you have not. They usually extend over a longer period of time and are usually associated with the Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

Lead goals are goals which you have much greater control over, and they usually lead on to the lag goal. It is about setting short-term goals, usually just a week or less, which can move you towards your bigger goal.

Keeping it simple

Whichever way you choose to set goals for your business or organisation, the important thing is to keep them consistent, simple, and realistic. If you have multiple employees, then it is important that everyone is one the same page so you are all heading in the same direction. Keeping goals clearly time-defined, measureable, and realistic will ensure that there will be no confusion down the line, and will help you to stick to your new year, new you business aims!

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With a background in design, I started my career working in various UK based start ups. Branding, social media campaigns and digital design were my main strengths. Then, I dived into the business side of things. I am now a key researcher and creative content writer at CompanyFormations 24.7.