The New Year is a time for reflection and resolutions. But when it comes to setting business goals, make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure. Most business owners know goals are important. But how can you make sure your New Year business resolution will keep you motivated all year and not be forgotten by February?
HR Junction managing director Belinda Brosnan specialises in helping businesses, owners and managers foster a high-performance work culture. Her approach is based on neuroscience, coaching and helping managers play to their employees’ strengths.
While Brosnan said the New Year was a natural time for reflection and goal-setting, she had a few tips to make sure you were inspired not daunted.
- BE REALISTIC “You can’t lie to your own brain,” Brosnan said. “So sometimes when people say things like, I’m going to be fit and skinny by March, what your brain does is say, ‘Well, that won’t be happening’,” she said. This resulted in people giving up before they had started because the task felt impossible. Goals should be reframed around making progress, learning or growing. So if you say, ‘I’m going to get stronger and fitter every week,’ that will be something that the brain thinks, ‘You know what, I think I can do that’,” she said. It didn’t mean goals should be vague, or wishy-washy, it just meant they should be aimed at making small regular progressions. For example, growing your business 10 per cent could be reframed as: I will connect with two new business prospects each fortnight. “The key is small and achievable wins,” Brosnan said.
- THINK SHORT-TERM You may have a long-term goal, but the most effective way to achieve it was to break the journey into smaller steps, Brosnan said. It not only made it seem more achievable but celebrating each small step along the way motivated you to achieve more. It was human nature, Brosnan said, to leave things until the last minute if you had a distant deadline. “People won’t keep their eye on a goal unless you break it up into regular intervals of things we need to achieve along the way. Shorter time frame focus is a big part of keeping people focused and engaged,” she said. In the same vein, scheduling regular catch-ups with staff members to address any issues or concerns as they arose was much more effective than leaving it until annual performance reviews.
- TRY A THEME INSTEAD OF A GOAL “Often the goal-setting aspirations of the New Year puts a lot of pressure on people,” Brosnan said. “We often set all these goals and we say we’re going to do it and within a week it’s gone. So one of the things I’d say to people is identify a word or theme for the year that’s really important to you. For example, in my first year working in my own business, my theme for the year was ‘be brave’ and I looked at how that applies to not only my work, but my health, my friendships, finances and relationships. So sometimes those things can be very motivating because they give you a clear focus – that’s the benefit of this process.”
- INCLUDE YOUR STAFF You may have a goal or vision for your business – but do your staff know about it? Do they understand it? Involving others in your goal setting could have the dual effect of both encouraging you to follow through, together with making others feel ownership of the goal. “For example, I have one client who had some great ambitions for the year, but when we ran a team session, his staff had no idea about some of those plans for the business, ‘‘Brosnan said. “Particularly with small businesses, what I observe is that often the owners are so busy doing all of their planning for the business that they forget to bring their people along for the ride.”
- CELEBRATE THE MILESTONES “Sometimes we’re so busy and focused on getting the job done, we don’t stop to celebrate our success,” Brosnan said. “We get something done and go straight on to the next thing.” Feeling you are making progress towards a goal is important and marking small achievements on the journey towards your goals helps do this.
- MAKE IT A GOAL TO GET ACROSS GRANTS It’s easy for a busy business owner to miss some of the grants and assistance packages available to them. New Year is a great time to see what is available and when you need to apply. To help you get across things with minimum effort, the Federal Government operates a Grant Finder search. This links to details of everything from simple packages for free national job advertising, to grants for small business that will directly benefit their local communities. Go to Grant Finder and type in your industry, for example, ‘real estate’ and search grants and assistance packages available to you. You can narrow your search by state, or business area – for example, training, research and development, or loans. In September last year, the government also launched its Open for Business website. It touts the potential benefits for small business, covering off on a raft of Free Trade Agreements Australia has signed in recent years.