Developing a road map

The beginning of the year gives you a chance to reflect on what your company did over the past year and what it wants to accomplish in the coming year. You may be looking at shifting your focus from internal matters, such as cost-saving measures, to external matters, such as building client relationships.

Taking the time to set goals and priorities for the coming year can help your company have a stronger focus and give you a sense of direction.

“You generally don’t get in your car and drive without knowing where you’re going,” says Darci Congrove, CPA, managing director with GBQ Partners LLC.

Successful businesses know exactly what they’re trying to accomplish, where they’re going and when they hope to get there, says Congrove, and they have a plan to help them stay on track.

Smart Business spoke with Congrove about how to set goals and priorities and how to get employees on board to achieving these items.

What risks do you face by not establishing priorities and goals each year?

You continue to do what you’ve always done, which generally leads to the same results. Complacency is one of the first steps to killing an entrepreneurial spirit and leads to mediocrity. Mediocre businesses generally don’t thrive or even survive. Setting goals and being forward-focused is a necessity to staying competitive.

How do you develop goals and priorities and turn them into actionable steps?

Begin with the end in mind. Goal and priority setting can be extremely overwhelming when you think of all the big things that need to be done. Break big goals into action steps and small pieces, set milestones, and then celebrate those along the way. It’s not fun to wait two years to decide if you’ve accomplished something or not.

Figure out where you want to go, what you need to do to get there, how long it will take, who can do it, what the steps are, and by when you want to accomplish it. You have to be realistic about the pace of your goal setting. A lot of times, businesses will choose an artificial timeline, and a lot of times, big goals or changes often take more than one calendar year. You need to decide if these are short- or long-term goals and set a realistic time frame to achieve them.