You’re probably like the rest of us. You spent an appropriate amount of time thinking about your New Year’s resolutions and may have even gotten a bit excited about them. Call it hysteria caused by the holiday mood. Unfortunately, you have also probably given up on them already.

How about setting some business goals that you will actually stick to. Now is a great time to take stock in your current situation, reflect back on 2014 and look ahead to what you want to happen in 2015. Remarkable things can happen if you set goals and actually write them down. Then take a bit more time and consider how you intend to meet those goals and you are well on your way to success. The trick is in how you go about setting your goals and then how you measure them. 

Goals should be attainable and measurable.

It does you absolutely no good to come up with pie in the sky business goals. You will never meet them and may cause harm to the business if you make financial decisions based on poorly constructed goals. For example, you may go into debt expecting a big payout that may never materialize.

We cannot know what the future holds, but there are indicators that can shed some light on it. Recent history, market conditions and the competitive landscape can help provide direction when setting goals. Have sales been trending up for the past 12 months? Then it may be reasonable to continue the trend plus a bit more now that gas prices are low and the economy may really be improving. Perhaps you have taken on a new product line. This should add a bump to sales numbers. Did you hire a new sales person? Then numbers should go up to reflect increased sales pressure on the market.

Setting goals that make a difference is also important. Setting a goal to increase traffic into the store or to your website is important as long as it is accompanied by a goal of converting that traffic into sales. Traffic alone won’t pay the bills. Beware of activity goals and focus on results-oriented goals.

And, goals above all else must be measurable and actually measured to be effective. Sales is a pretty easy one, since it is tangible and clear. Others are not so cut and dry. A goal of increased conversion rate can be very powerful as long as you track it. You may need to keep a customer count and then look at the number of transactions in the store by day. If you get 100 customers and 20 actually buy something, then your conversion rate is 20%. Set a baseline and then measure against it as you go. This is another way to help show whether your advertising and promotions are working as well.

The most important thing is to take the time to think about your business, set realistic expectations with a little push and then measure to see how you did. And, yes, you must write them down.

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