Strategic Planning and Goal Setting: 4 Tips for Businesses

January 21, 2020 • April Miller


Does planning and goal setting make you excited or fill you with dread?

A new year is a perfect time to set some goals for the coming year. You may have set some goals in the past and failed to achieve them as the hectic day-to-day running of your company took center stage. However, with strategic planning, you can reach your 2020 resolutions.

Reports in Forbes and Inc. looked at several studies showing as many as 92% of people never achieve their New Year’s resolutions and 80% give up on planning and goal setting by February.

If you want to be in the mere 8% who do achieve their 2020 resolutions, you have to turn toward strategic planning to see your dreams become reality.

What Is Strategic Planning?

Planning and goal setting shouldn’t be some random exercise you do every December 31st. Instead, take the time to set some firm 2020 resolutions along with the specific steps that get you from Point A to Point B.

With strategic planning, you’ll figure out what your top priorities are and then allocate your energy and resources toward achieving the goals at the top of your list. There may be other goals that are worthwhile, but if they aren’t your priority, they must go on the back burner as all your attention is turned toward your top goals.

Your objectives will depend upon where your business is and what might make it grow best. Perhaps you want to increase sales, improve customer service or sell more to the customers you already have.

Work with your team to figure out what goals fit best with the overall vision for your brand. Here are a few goal ideas to consider for your 2020 resolutions. You may want to try one or several of these.

Goal # 1: Decrease Costs

If your business is in growth mode and struggling with cash flow issues, decreasing your overall costs is one immediate fix that puts cash in your pocket. Start by looking at current costs, including energy usage, insurance and what you pay suppliers.

Next, call each supplier and ask for a 10% discount, free shipping or discounts for bulk orders. Look at ways to reduce energy usage. Talk to your insurance agent about reducing your policy or upping your deductible. Once you have a clear picture of what is possible, set a firm number to aim for in saving on costs.

Goal # 2: Set Professional Goals

Gather your workers and talk about professional goals they might have. As a team, you can create a goal to brush up your knowledge in a specific area, offer promotions to people who complete specific tasks or embrace a new company culture.

Set a large goal and then break it into smaller steps with time estimates on when each will be achieved. Outline who will complete what task and how it helps the company as a whole.

At the same time, be cautious about offering training to only one person as employees do leave for other positions or leave the workforce to raise families or pursue personal dreams.

Goal # 3: Increase Revenue

A strategic goal doesn’t just offer a vague task such as “increasing revenue in 2020.” Instead, it should be very specific, but also achievable. So, you might look at the average rise in sales from year to year and then set a percentage increase of 2% above that number. Or, you can put a specific dollar amount on the goal.

Next, look at sales from month to month and set goals for each month of 2020. Finally, think through the things that have been successful in the past or for your competitors and choose the ones most likely to increase revenue in the coming year.

Goal # 4: Improve Customer Satisfaction

Some goals are a little harder to track because they aren’t tied to hard and fast numbers. However, increasing customer satisfaction helps you retain the customers you have and attract new ones as they hear positive things about you.

Start with a look at internal data. What do customers complain about most often? How can you fix each issue before it becomes a complaint?

Next, contact your top customers and ask them what you could do to improve your service. You’ll likely get a number of good ideas. Talk them over with your staff and figure out which ones are doable in the coming year.

Look Forward Beyond 2020

Although planning and goal setting for 2020 resolutions is a good start, look out beyond the next year and see what bigger goals you might have for the next five or ten years. Around 63% of small business owners say they plan a year (at most) in advance.

One way to gain an edge over your competition and rise to the top of your field is planning further out and strategically moving toward a bigger target.