Setting goals without specific plans to reach them is like taking an address with you on a trip without looking up the directions to get there. Goals and objectives are important to help take small businesses to the next level, but each department’s strategy should be supported by specific tactics. Creating to-do lists and project plans will help you meet the goals you set for your company.

Set Specific Objectives

The more specific you can make your goals, the easier it will be to develop plans to achieve them. For example, setting a goal of increasing sales is too general to help you plan the strategies and tactics to do so. Even setting an objective of increasing sales by 15 percent is too vague. More specific goals would include increasing online sales, increasing sales among a specific target customer group, increasing sales of specific items in your product line or increase sales through the use of a referral or rebate program.

Create Individual Plans

For each objective you set, create a step-by-step plan to reach it. For example, if your goal is to increase online sales, create a plan that includes updating your website pages, improving your online order processing software, boosting your social media and search engine optimization efforts and creating advertising and promotions specifically targeted to get customers to your website.

Track Results

Setting an end date for reaching your objective is only one deadline that’s important in achieving goals. Set chronological benchmarks that help you track your results. This will help you determine whether you are meeting your short-term goals or whether you need to adjust your strategies and tactics. Hold weekly department meetings and review monthly sales, production and financial reports.

Motivate Stakeholders

What’s good for the company is obviously good for employees, but if meeting a goal puts extra money into an individual’s pocket, your key staff will be more motivated to get and stay involved in helping you meet your objectives. Create a bonus system that rewards workers who help you reach your goal. Be specific about how and when bonuses will be paid, and set the benchmarks low enough that there is no question employees will earn the bonus if you succeed. When creating a bonus program, set your budget by taking the attitude that you want to pay the maximum because it’s worth it, in terms of the benefits you’ll receive.

Use Experts

Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know everything. Hire consultants who can help you develop tactics for achieving your objectives. You don’t need to hire contractors long-term. Meet with financial, sales, marketing, human resources, production and information technology experts to review your goals, set realistic objectives and create specific plans for reaching them. This might require buying new equipment or software or training your staff to handle added responsibilities.