By Linda Schooley

SCORE counselor

SCORE is a National organization and partner of the SBA with a mission of helping people who want to be small-business owners. The Tuolumne SCORE Chapter has seven counselors of current business owners and past corporate senior executives on staff to assist in reaching that dream.

You’ve read articles that say setting an annual business plan is a necessity, but you don’t really understand why it is so important. Let’s go over a few things that may help you understand why this is such an important start to a New Year.

A business plan is really about setting goals for your business and how important measurable goals are for moving a business forward. For this to work, you need to also identify your client/customer base. You want to be targeting only those who are actually interested in your product or service. It is so easy for business owners to avoid taking the time to look at a plan yearly. But, without a plan you will be spinning your wheels without a real purpose for your business and be wasting time with projects that may not be what is really needed to grow your business.

First, get specific. Write down what worked and what didn’t this past year. What got you excited? What did you love doing; your emotions play a big part in your success. What did your customers get excited about? What made you money?

Before writing down goals for new ideas, focus on enhancing, improving and repurposing what already worked for you. Did writing a monthly or weekly newsletter gather new interest in your business? Perhaps starting a blog was well received? Focus on what served your business well and “tweak it.” You do not have to reinvent the wheel!

What didn’t perform well? What was frustrating? Think about what you need to stop doing, before you plan on what you wish to accomplish this year. Perhaps one source of social media just didn’t have the response you hoped for? Try another. There are many social media channels, you just need to find the right fit for your business.

Now you can start listing your set of goals, which should include revenue projections, contributions (do you want to donate more to a cause? Don’t forget to include the cost of those raffle prizes you donate!), your special focus (think about the big area you want to focus on), foundation strategies (perhaps you want to send out weekly or monthly emails — block out that time on your calendar for writing all your emails each month). Blocking out time will make sure it happens.

What if your goal is too large to accomplish in a short period of time? Break it

down to mini-goals. To effectively more forward, you have to be able to “check off” a goal or you will feel overwhelmed and give up. So, create that big picture of goals and then make multiple mini-goals so they will lead up to that big one. For example, setting a goal to increase the revenue by “X” number of dollars may be too generally aggressive. Instead, set a min-goal to increase your revenue by a smaller profit margin by a realistic period of time, and when that is reached, set up another small revenue goal.

Focus on one goal at a time. Do not multi-task, even though this is so easy to do. Achieving something, every day, every month, every quarter and throughout the year is dependent on a single focus. You will feel good seeing those mini-goals checked off and know that you are moving in the direction you want to go.

Lastly, move out of your comfort zone. Make sure your goals are set high enough, but not too high. You want to reach forward and try to push yourself to achieve a bit more than you are sure you will accomplish. This will be the “sweet spot” for success.

I hope this article will motivate you to take action and set goals for the coming year. The Tuolumne County SCORE website (tuolumnecounty.score.org) has several articles and workshops designed to help in goal-setting. In the search box, type in “Setting Goals,” and the site will show several options that can help, such as “Setting Goals and Staying On Track.” On the homepage, if you can use confidential help, the Find A Mentor icon will link you with one of our counselors who you can help you in setting and achieving your goals.

Please join our Facebook page for announcements on upcoming Workshops.

Contact Linda Schooley at score0596@scorevolunteer.

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