Ahhhh, January 1. The fast approaching New Year’s holiday is an easy time to reflect on the year that is wrapping up, and a fantastic opportunity to set some goals and intentions for the upcoming year ahead. As business managers and owners, this also often means the end of 4th Quarter and the 2018 Fiscal Year financials. How did your business do in 2018? What goals are you setting for 2019?

Whether you annually engage in goal setting for your business, or if it has been pushed to the bottom of the priority list too many times, we encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity for a fresh start in whatever way feels comfortable to you. Here, we offer a few tips to help you get started on your own business goal setting exercise:

1. Don’t focus on just the financials. Yes, your books are hands down one of the most important aspects of your business’ success. Know them, understand them, and spend time with them frequently. But it’s also just as important to set goals that support your organization’s wellbeing in other ways, such as culture and employee engagement. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Sue Shellenbarger, “What will distinguish the most profitable companies from the rest in the coming year won’t be whether they offer foosball or free food. It will be whether leaders foster a workplace culture where employees feel a sense of belonging, like their jobs and trust their managers to help them move on to a better one.”

2. Ask yourself what it is that you love to do. And do it. Then brainstorm ways to outsource the things that are bringing you down. The Chamber’s membership has an array of business consultants, services and resources to help you with everything from marketing to janitorial, giving you more time to focus on what it is that helps you bring the greatest value to your business or organization.

3. Pay attention to trends from the past. Does your business tend to drop off in the fall? Are Tuesdays your most productive days? Use your financial reports, daily journals, meeting calendars, etc. to know when your biggest money making times are and be sure you are allocating all available resources to those times to make the most out of them. On the other side, if there are trends where your business is lacking steam, strategize how to improve on those times to bring your overall revenue up. For example, your goal may be to reach out to 5 new prospective customers every Friday, when your close rate trends down for the week.

4. Do your research. Know what other businesses in your region and in your market are doing. Find some KPI’s (key performance indicators) for your industry and figure out where you rank. Then, use that research to determine what you will focus on for the year. What makes you different in a good way? What makes you different in a way that inspires you to improve?

5. Visit your goals regularly. Schedule regular time on a weekly or monthly basis to evaluate where you are at in terms of your goals and if you need to make any changes. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as needed. After all, pivots are a necessary part of doing business and waiting too long before making them can lead to big consequences. Regularly taking stock of your goals is a great way to ensure you are not overwhelmed each year by checking in. You always know where you are at and are empowered with the tools necessary to get you to where you want to go.

For more tips on business goal setting, visit this great resource from ClearPoint Strategy. We’d love to hear from you! What are your “go-to” tactics for planning your business’ success?

Here at the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce, we look forward to being a partner in your success by helping you reach your 2019 business goals. From advocacy to education, networking to referrals, our staff is here to support you. We wish you a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working with you in the new year!

- Margo Magnant is the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Director and is an MBA student at the University of Montana.

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