Whether you're a massive corporation or a small business, having clear business objectives that are time-based and achievable allows you to orient your company in the right direction as you grow. Most businesses have goals, yet many don’t evolve those goals into useful objectives. They mistake diving into tactics before objectives are defined or establishing goals that aren’t aligned with the company’s vision. In this blog post, we will refresh the goal-setting process so your ecommerce business can thrive.
THINK ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE
Before getting started on understanding your business objectives, it's important to know your vision statement. This statement sets the entire foundation for your company. While your business may evolve in the long run to suit the consumer environment, your underlying beliefs should remain consistent. The vision is the long-term plan - at least a decade or two and will drive the remainder of your business plan. An example of this is Empathy Wines, "Whoever has the most empathy for the consumers and the farmer will win the wine game," says co-founder Gary Vaynerchuk. "That's why I'm calling it Empathy." Their vision is to "connect everyone with wine they'll love at the right price".
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Once you have a clear vision, it's time to focus on your business goals and objectives. Business goals are typically broad aims you establish to start the business planning process. For example, "Expand our distribution in the Eastern states” could be considered a goal. Once you've established your company's business goals, you can break them down into individual business objectives. An objective is a specific, actionable milestone that you reach on the way to achieving your goal. "Sell $200,000 through our Northeastern distribution channels in the next six months" is an example of one objective to the expansion goal above.
HAVE A CLEAR SENSE OF PURPOSE AND DIRECTION
Use your goals and objectives to keep your leadership teams motivated and focused. If your employees have a thorough understanding of what the company is trying to achieve, it will help them know what is expected of them to support the mission. Employees that feel they are part of a team, and contribute to a bigger purpose, are more likely to be an ambassador for the brand outside of their work schedule. It will also help to minimize employee turnover, creating longer-term knowledge and experience within your team, which continues to build employee buy-in to the dream.
OBJECTIVES SHOULD FOLLOW THE SMART FORMULA
The SMART formula provides a framework for achieving business objectives. By bringing clarity and direction to your objectives, quantifying success is easier and it allows your employees to more actively engage with and contribute to the company's success.
SPECIFIC Objectives should be clear and easily defined. Opening a new shipping market, adding a new product line, or reaching certain production levels are all examples. These are all quantifiable, simple for your employees to understand, and make for an easy roadmap to achieve the objective.
MEASURABLE Specific objectives also include metrics to define success. "Increase Sales" does not provide a measure of success for a team to strive toward. "Increase wine club membership by 10%" or "Roll out a new product with new label design by Q4 bottling" are all easily measured objectives that employees can utilize to ensure their individual tasks are completed on time to meet the larger goal.
ACHIEVABLE Objectives should be achievable for the team involved and for the desired metric. Achievable metrics intertwine with those of other teams and consider larger goals and team capabilities. For instance, one cannot expect the membership group to achieve the desired increase in club sales if the production team doesn't have a metric to increase production to meet the new demand. Achievable doesn't mean easy. Setting difficult objectives and pushing a team to larger than needed levels of success results in higher levels of pride within a team upon completion, directly improving team morale and engagement. Keep objectives reasonable, but push for a higher level of success.
RELEVANT Objectives should be relevant to the main goals. If your winery has a goal of increasing DtC sales this year, your team’s objectives should be directly applicable to meeting that goal. In this case, the marketing team’s objective may be to post to social media channels more frequently with content geared to tasting room visits, cellar door special pricing or events. Meanwhile, the production team may have an objective to develop a small bottling of a special barrel/blend/etc. meant for tasting room-only sales. Making sure that team objectives are relevant helps focus all efforts on the bigger goal while also ensuring individual team participation and success.
TIME-BASED Give your objectives a due date. Just as your big-picture goals should be a 5-10 year plan, your metrics to achieve must have clearly defined schedules as well. These can be both long and short term, and both big and small. If your objective is to increase Syrah production 20% by year X, then timely strategies may include planting new vines by a specific date or sourcing fruit on a certain schedule. Increasing club membership in one year may have quarterly or monthly objectives. Similarly, increasing mailing list communications by a certain amount to drive more engagement are examples of timely objectives to achieve the bigger picture.
Think about the big picture and where you see your company in 5-10 years. Having a clear sense of purpose and direction maintains laser focus in an environment full of distractions. It will also help your employees understand what the company is trying to achieve and what is required of them to support this mission. Objectives should follow the SMART formula, being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.
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