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How to Set (and Achieve) Your 2021 Business Goals

Business

| By Alexandra Carlton | December 13, 2020

All you need to know to refine your business goals and financial objectives for maximum success in 2021.

How owners and SMEs can set smart business goals and financial objectives for 2021

The best-laid plans of companies everywhere were rocked by the events of 2020. But the coming year presents a new opportunity to reset and refine your business objectives for success. Here’s how to set your business goals for 2021 so your business is stronger and better prepared than ever before.

Take Stock of the Past Year

It’s critical to complete a holistic business review so you can readjust and move forward with your business goals for 2021. “Re-evaluate your business model and pricing structure,” says business coach Alison Morgan from Relauncher. “While these may have worked fine pre-COVID, many will need fine-tuning.” This is the starting point for how you approach the year ahead.

Have a Mix of Long- and Short-Term Goals

Some people find it more productive to focus on short-term goal objectives; others feel more grounded by breaking larger business goals into smaller actions. Online retailer Stephanie Moring of Postix says broad, annual goals work best for her and her business. “For example, year one was all about building the brand, finding an audience and getting their feedback on the product,” she says. “The second year was all about nailing my packaging. My goal for 2021 is to grow my brand through wholesaling.”

Marcus Cook, content marketing specialist and co-founder of entrepreneurship blog The Success Bug, says annual goals are a great place to start, but he then likes to work backwards and break these down, going “smaller and smaller to look at what we need to do every month, every week and every day to achieve that goal.”

Choose the Right Tools

Expert tips on how to set smart business goals and financial objectives for 2021.


There are lots of fancy goal-setting tools out there, including popular project management apps such as monday.com, Asana or Wrike, but don’t be cornered into thinking you need every bell and whistle to keep your team on track. “We never felt the need to use any software outside of Google Sheets,” says Cook. “We update all our goals for the month and who is responsible for what. That way, we can always look to see where everyone is at and if they’re on track to achieve their goals in time.”

Apply SWOT and SMART Methodologies

There’s a reason why these tried-and-tested business analysis tools have stood the test of time: they work. Start with a SWOT review of your business – this involves zeroing in on its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. From there, you should be able to formulate the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic or Relevant, Time-Bound) goals you’ll need to hit to maximise your opportunities, strengthen your weaknesses and overcome any threats. For example, when Cook launched his company’s Instagram account, the goal wasn’t just to get more followers. “It was ‘Get 1000 followers in two weeks completely organically’,” he explains. “1000 was a specific, measurable number, we did the research to see it was achievable, and it was time-bound.”

SEE ALSO: How to Reboot Your SME for Business Growth

Adapt When the Unexpected Hits

The wider repercussions on business and the economy from COVID-19 (coronavirus) were a shock to many business owners all over the world, who found themselves needing to adjust to a new normal – fast. Morgan names two key areas to look at as your business moves into 2021. First, take stock of your communication with customers, remembering their mindsets may have changed in this new world. And, secondly, examine your business’ efficiency – are there wiser ways to structure your expenditure?

Moring says flexibility is the new reality for a lot of businesses. When Australia Post suspended international economy mail during the pandemic, making it hard for her to send her product to the US, she found a work-around solution by sending her US orders in bulk to a friend in the state of Wisconsin, who then posted the orders to customers around the country. “My customer base was really happy with this approach and it worked better than expected,” she says.

Expect the Unexpected to Happen Again

Expert advice on how to set business goals and objectives for the upcoming financial year

Fashion wholesale and brand launch expert Carley Johnson from Unzipped says it would be wise for companies to set both Plan A and Plan B goals moving into 2021. Plan A goals focus on driving forward with a “business-as-usual” approach that assumes no or minimal isolation measures are in place due to COVID-19; Plan B goals take effect in the event isolation is imposed on their market again. You need every internal and external stakeholder to be aware of Plan B, so flag it with all parties before you lock it in as a goal.

Be Flexible – but Not Too Flexible

“Being too prescriptive won’t allow organic growth or creativity,” says Moring, who likes to allow some fluidity in her goals. For example, a goal she set around finalising her products’ packaging was derailed when feedback from customers said she was using too much plastic. In response, she went down a more complicated path that didn’t meet her time period or budget goals but did give her customers what they asked for, and gave her brand a welcome point of difference.

But don’t be too non-committal. Cook advises setting goals expecting them to be met, especially when they involve multiple team members. Otherwise, he says, “your teammates are less likely to deliver on them.”

Realise That Missing Some Goals Can Be Beneficial

How small businesses plan business goals and financial objectives for next year.

Realistically, you won’t hit every goal you set for yourself and that’s not necessarily all bad. “In fact, if you are constantly meeting your goals you probably aren’t setting ambitious enough ones,” says Cook. Too many missed goals suggest something’s amiss, which could be due to setting too many goals in too little a time frame. So pump the brakes a touch, says Cook, explaining, “It’s much better to be consistent and work slower than get burned out.”