Making Resolutions vs. Setting Goals

2014 The end of one year and the start of the next bring thoughts of resolutions and goals. We put these in place every year as individuals, but we need to do the same as business owners. As humans, it seems that we’re always looking for ways to do better, especially when we have the opportunity for a fresh start. January is the perfect new beginning.

Resolutions and goals are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. As a business owner, it’s important that you not confuse the two. It’s definitely a good idea to spend a little time crafting both resolutions and goals for the new year, but also that you know where the two will guide and influence you in the coming months.

Resolutions: Setting an intent

Resolutions have to do with how you’re going to behave. It’s “firmly settling on a course of action,” according to one definition. The firmly is key here. Deciding to proceed in a certain direction is one thing; resolving to do it is quite another.

Your business resolutions can be anything that will benefit it and help you move forward, like being more organized or getting more involved in the community. They just need to be realistic and kept to just a handful. Fox Small Business suggests five business resolutions you can actually keep and that will have a positive impact on your business. Get inspired by clicking on the link above, but here’s the list in a nutshell:

    • Invest in your business.


    • Leverage social media.


    • Ask for customer feedback.


    • Stay positive.


    • Get help.

Goals: Long-term vision and shorter-term objectives

Then there’s the matter of setting goals. Goals are different from intentions, and possibly even more important, because this is where you get specific -- and quantifiable, if at all possible. Ideally, you’ll have both resolutions and goals that will complement each other.

As a small business owner, you need a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there to succeed. So says contributor Peter Vanden Bos, who writes about how to set business goals. But indications are that a really high percentage of small business owners don’t set and track business goals at all! How much better could you be with some clear-cut goals? You can find out in 2014, and this is the place to start.

Experts say your goals should reflect why you’re in business, which infuses them with more meaning and energy. Goals set this way are referred to as visionary, and generally fall within four broad areas:

    • Service


    • Social


    • Profit


    • Growth

Interestingly, some business experts claim that business owners frequently set goals too low. So the article encourages business owners to set at least one BHAG: A big, hairy audacious goal! Read the article to find out more about BHAGs and how they help inspire you.

In the meantime, after you’ve set some long-term goals, set some shorter-term ones that will get you there. These should be SMART:

    • Specific


    • Measurable


    • Action-oriented


    • Realistic


    • Time specific

Make sure these are tied to your long-term goals. And above all, be flexible and cognizant of how quickly your goals can--and should--change, depending on how the landscape’s evolving. You just never know what’s around the corner, but having goals from the get-go will help you rise to any challenge.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Have you historically set and tracked goals for your business? What about this year? Are your goals firmly in place for 2014?

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