Once you set your business goals, it's time to apply them to your business. The first step is to break them down; business goals are often long term in scope, and require significant time and effort from multiple people to achieve them. You can break goals down in whatever way makes the most sense for you and your business.
Next, put a process in place for tracking progress on your goals. Again, this will largely depend on your business's unique needs, but good goals are measurable, and you should be able to track what has been done and how long it has taken.
Remember that goals change, so you must remain flexible. Try to stick to the one, five, 10-year method, and revisit your goals annually to allow yourself the space to make adjustments. Also, keep in mind that sometimes failure is healthy and may be unavoidable as a business owner.
Failure can lead to business success, said Jack Petry, business coach and growth strategist. "The path to success is to fail as quickly as you possibly can because it creates a tremendous asset: results," he said. "If you do anything in life, you get a result. You'll grow wiser, and I've found [failure] is often a springboard to eventual success."
As you experience failures and setbacks, keep your vision and company's mission in mind. It's tough to go through these experiences but staying focused on why you started your business in the first place is a great motivator.
Johannes Larsson, CEO and founder of financer.com, said that focusing on your vision and being passionate about what you do is key, as it is sometimes all you have to keep yourself going. "Only when we do what we love can we go through the long hours, the challenges, the problems and everything that comes with running a successful business," he said.
Finally, celebrate your accomplishments when you complete a goal. This allows you to recognize the hard work that you and your team put in, and it serves as a motivating factor in continuing your path to success. "Success is defined for me personally as accomplishing goals, not being motivated by a dollar, but by creating with creativity, passion, hard work – it often goes hand in hand with financial rewards as well," said Matt Levine, restaurateur and founder of Chlorophyll Water.
The keys to business success
There is no one key to success in business. Like everything else in entrepreneurship, what works for you may not work for someone else, and it can take several rounds of trial and error before you find what works.
Sarkis Hakopdjanian, director of strategy and principal for the Business Clinic, recommends starting with a clearly defined purpose that everyone involved in the business is on board with. "A business without a purpose is doomed to fail," he said. "If this purpose is not clearly understood by the shareholders, employees and clients, the business will struggle to resonate with others."
Once you have established your purpose, make sure your business plan denotes exactly how you plan to grow your business. Growth is not synonymous with success, but it is important. "To me, growth for growth's sake is meaningless," said Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls. "But profitable growth with interesting clients solving important problems is what keeps me engaged and excited."
Mike Falahee, owner and CEO of Marygrove Awning Co. says the key to his business success is going back to basics. "Treat your customers with respect, pay your employees what they're worth, and have a great product you can get behind."
Don't overlook careful planning and organization, said Sally Fox, copy and content writer. "The key is setting targets and planning ahead. When I began freelancing, I was throwing myself fully into each project as it came without a thought for what happened next." Fox said that she learned to set aside time every week to plan and project where she wanted her business to go to avoid productivity gaps, which increased her bottom line and helped her maintain a steady business.