12 Tips for Setting Small Business Goals in 2021

Roy Rasmussen
Roy Rasmussen
Roy Rasmussen

The small business goals you set help determine the results you get. 

Here are 12 strategic goals to help you achieve success in 2021.

1. Update Your Business Plan

Setting business goals starts with your business plan. This charts a course to success, laying out a company’s long-term business goals as well as breaking down short-term goals for a business to achieve as a step toward longer-term objectives. 

Unfortunately, many companies only focus on their business plan when they’re starting up or when they need financing. This prevents them from putting their plans to practical use as a tool for guiding your operations. 

Position your company for success by setting a goal of reviewing your business plan regularly and keeping it updated to reflect changes in your situation. You can keep your business plan current by scheduling reviews on an annual, semi-annual or even quarterly or monthly basis.

Review your plan to make sure it defines quantifiable goals which can be measured through key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, your plan might include a goal of achieving a certain revenue level by this time next year, with benchmarks mapped out for each quarter.

2. Optimize Your Financial Planning

The heart of a winning business plan is solid financial planning. One of the most important financial goals for a business is to increase profitability. This essentially boils down to growing revenue while shrinking costs. You can achieve greater success by setting quantifiable goals which promote revenue growth or cost savings.

Some business goals examples which illustrate measurable ways to increase revenue include:

  • Generating a higher volume of qualified leads
  • Improving lead conversion efficiency to generate more sales per lead
  • Adjusting pricing to maximize your average revenue per sales transaction

Some company goals examples that illustrate ways to decrease costs include:

  • Reducing labor hours and costs by implementing standardized procedures to increase efficiency
  • Cutting payroll costs by outsourcing
  • Reducing labor hours and expenses by leveraging automation

You can see what your current revenue and expense levels are and how they break down by examining your profit-and-loss statement. Review your recent statements to see where you might focus on increasing revenue or cutting costs.

3. Improve Your Marketing Message

One of the most efficient ways to increase your revenue is to adjust your marketing theme so that you’re attracting more qualified leads. If your marketing message isn’t emphasizing your ideal audience or the benefits that appeal to them, you’re wasting your promotional budget speaking to the wrong type of buyer or trying to sell the wrong thing.

Get more out of your marketing dollar by improving your core marketing message, known as your unique selling proposition (USP). This is a short statement that briefly sums up what you offer, why people should want it and why they should get it from you instead of one of your competitors. 

You can improve your USP by using a number of strategies:

  • Direct your message to a different niche audience
  • Address a pain point that resonates better with your intended market
  • Offer a different benefit that appeals more to your target audience
  • Change your price by lowering it to make it more competitive or raising it to appeal to luxury buyers
  • Increase the value you offer at your current price point
  • Offer more selection
  • Emphasize superior service

To craft an effective marketing message, do market research to find out more about what your target market wants and what your competition is offering. Develop an offer that makes you stand out from the competition, and test it on a sample of your target market to gauge its effectiveness. Once you have a winning offer, emphasize it in your marketing content.

Arrows stick out of an archery target labeled “Goals.”

4. Generate More Organic Traffic

Attracting more leads is another way to increase your revenue. One of the most efficient ways to attract more leads is to deploy content marketing to increase organic traffic to your website.

Start by reviewing your website analytics data to assess your current traffic levels. Use this as a baseline to set goals for traffic increases. Pursue traffic increases by doing keyword research to identify which terms are popular with your target audience. Schedule the development and publication of content relevant to your target keywords. 

Track your results on an ongoing basis, and adjust your goals and tactics to keep up with changes in your traffic-flow patterns.

5. Increase Your Social Media Outreach

Social media provides another powerful tool for driving more traffic to your website. Both social media content and social ads can help you increase your traffic.

Start by using analytics tools to assess your current performance, such as your current levels of likes, shares and followers on different platforms. You also can use analytics to research your current followers and find audiences who share characteristics of your current following. You can then develop content and ads designed to reach your target audience. Set goals for increasing your social outreach, track your performance and make adjustments.

6. Make Your Website More User-Friendly

Once you’ve attracted visitors to your website, persuading them to stick around becomes a key to converting them into paying customers. You can convert more of your visitors into customers by doing a website audit to improve the user experience your site provides.

Start by using your web analytics tools to identify which pages on your site are getting the most traffic and whether you’re driving traffic toward pages that are key to your sales process, such as email registration pages, free trial pages and sales pages. 

Find out what visitors are doing on pages by using a heat map analysis, which uses color coding to visually represent where on your pages visitors are scrolling and clicking. Use this data as a baseline to identify what your visitors are currently doing. 

Set goals for what you’d like them to be doing, and talk to your web designer about how you can make this happen.

7. Increase Your Email Subscription Rate

Another important step you can take to convert more website visitors into customers is increasing the percentage of visitors who opt in to your email subscription list. Once a subscriber is on your list, you can follow up with additional marketing touches to guide them along your sales funnel.

You can increase your email subscription rate by taking steps such as:

  • Improving your web design to funnel more traffic to your opt-in page
  • Offering a valuable incentive to opt into your email list, such as a free how-to guide, white paper or video
  • Improving the sales copy on your opt-in page with a better headline, image or opt-in offer

To make your email subscription rate goals measurable, use your email and web analytics tools to track your current number of subscribers and the percentage of visitors to your site and opt-in page who convert to subscribers. 

As you make adjustments to your site design and opt-in page, track the results to measure the impact. Test different versions of your opt-in page to see which one generates the best results.

8. Increase Your Sales Volume

You can directly increase your revenue by increasing the number of sales you make. To do this, you can pursue several major strategies:

  • Optimize the steps in your sales process
  • Strengthen the language you use at each step in your sales process
  • Increase your rate of repeat sales to existing customers

For example, to illustrate the first strategy, if you notice that a large number of digital sales are being abandoned during your checkout process, you might review your shopping cart design to make sure it’s easy to use. To illustrate the second strategy, you might test a different closing offer to see if it gets better results than your current one. To illustrate the third strategy, you might introduce a new product or service designed to appeal to customers who have previously purchased from you.

To develop an effective sales action plan, start by measuring your current performance using vital sales KPIs, such as total number of sales or conversion rate per sales appointment. Use your current numbers to set goals that represent improvement. Then deploy strategies such as those listed above to improve your numbers and work toward your goals.

A hand hoists a bar graph showing a rising trend.

9. Increase Your Average Value Per Transaction

Another goal for increasing your revenue is to increase the average amount of revenue you generate per transaction. There are several ways you can approach this:

  • Testing higher price points to find out how much you can sell your product or service for without losing sales
  • Offering bundles of multiple products or services
  • Using the sales process to offer customers products and services which add value to the item they’re purchasing (cross-sells)
  • Using the sales process to suggest higher-priced products or services as alternatives to what the customer is about to buy (upsells)

To implement this strategy, choose KPIs to track your current performance and set goals. For example, you might begin tracking cross-sell revenue and then adjust your sales process to add cross-sell offers into your standard procedures. 

To illustrate, if you’re selling a physical product, you might add an offer for an extended warranty at the time of checkout and test how this affects your average revenue per transaction.

10. Implement Virtual Outsourcing

When it comes to cutting costs, one of the biggest expenses for any business is typically payroll, so any steps you can take to trim payroll costs will tend to improve your profitability. One major strategy for reducing payroll costs is outsourcing activities that don’t require full-time employees. Such activities generally fall into a few major categories:

  • Routine operations which are necessary but don’t involve your core business activity, such as accounting
  • Operations that your in-house staff could do but which would be more time-efficient or cost-efficient to outsource, such as handling customer service calls
  • Operations that lie beyond the expertise of your in-house staff, such as website development

Review your expenses on your profit and loss statement, and look for places where outsourcing might help you cut costs.

11. Increase Efficiency With Automation

Another strategy for cutting payroll costs and other costs is using automation to increase your operational efficiency. Automation can enable you to reduce the number of hours required to complete a task, decreasing the labor hours you need to pay for, while freeing time for workers to focus on more productive, revenue-generating activities. Automated tools also can help you scale up revenue-generating activities such as marketing or sales.

Operations that can be automated include anything that involves a routine, repetitive task, such as:

  • Project management task scheduling and email notifications
  • Meeting scheduling and notifications
  • Uploading marketing content to multiple distribution platforms
  • Entering contact and sales data into customer relationship management databases
  • Scheduling email drip campaigns
  • Syncing sales transaction data with accounting software
  • Answering routine customer service inquiries, such as questions about lost passwords or account balances

Review your operations and look for places where automation might help you increase efficiency, cut costs or scale up revenue.

12. Advance Your Cloud Migration

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to shift their operations to a virtual work environment and use a remote workforce. For some businesses, this was a temporary move, but for others, it accelerated a long-planned migration to the cloud. If you’ve been delaying a cloud migration, this year might be a good time to move your plans forward.

You don’t necessarily need to move everything to the cloud all at once. In many cases, only certain infrastructure elements, platforms or apps need to be migrated. Talk to your information technology team about your cloud migration strategy, and do a cost-benefit analysis before making any big decisions.

Set Customized Business Goals to Achieve Your Objectives

This list of business goals isn’t meant to be exhaustive or overwhelming. You don’t have to pursue all these goals at once, and you may have other priorities which outrank these. Use these sample business goals to brainstorm and generate your own list of customized goals. Prioritize a few items which are especially important for your business goals and objectives, and plan and take concrete steps to implement these.

Achieving your business goals often requires additional financing. If you’re considering a business loan or line of credit, check out our blog for tips on financing options, or fill out our free online prequalifying application to find out which options may be available to you right now.

Roy Rasmussen Contributing Writer at Fast Capital 360
Roy is a respected, published author on topics including business coaching, small business management and business automation as well as an expert business plan writer and strategist.