Those who fail to plan, plan to fail – Benjamin Franklin

As a business owner, you might be reviewing your year-end sales and setting new goals for 2014. Did you follow through on all your plans for 2013? Were your sales as you hoped?

During slow economic times, it’s tempting to cut back on marketing to save money. Yet, failing to consistently promote your brand leads to decreased business, which in turn, may cause some businesses to cut back on spending even more. It’s a nasty cycle.

Don’t fall into the trap of trying everything, hoping something will work. With less resources, it’s even more important to identify your business goals, and then only do those tasks that further those objectives.

So how do you set goals? Use the SMART system.

Specific – We all want more revenue, more customers, more followers on social media. But you need to set real numbers with real deadlines to make this happen.

Measurable – The only way to determine if you are meeting your goals is by measuring your progress. “Building my brand” is not measurable, but contacting 50 new potential customers a month is.

Achievable – We’d all like to make millions, but it can’t be done instantly. Building your business takes time. Meeting shorter-term goals is easier and keeps you motivated.

Realistic – Your business is limited by physical space, staffing and expertise. You may want to participate in a trade show every month, but is that realistic? Do you have the resources?

Time Limits – Most people will not meet goals unless there is a deadline attached. Set a date and put it on the calendar. Get everyone on board to meet that deadline. You will never “find” time to do something – make it happen.

Having a plan in place now gives your business direction. Things may change along the way, but having an overall strategy will help.

And don’t forget to plan in celebrations for achieving your goals!  Rewards are key for you and your team.