BL Goal Setting

Keys to Better Goal Setting

Each of us defines success differently. Money, lifestyle, relationships, and personal growth are likely contributing factors. But your ability to achieve the success you desire starts with goal setting.

With January approaching, now is a good time to evaluate your performance in 2023 — and set goals for 2024.  Here are some suggestions to make your goal-setting payoff.

5 Keys to Better Goal Setting

Write Them Down & Keep Them Visible.  Your goals clarify what you want to be, do, have, or accomplish. So, if you are committed to achieving them, put them in writing and view them often. Don’t set them and forget them.

Don’t Go Overboard.  Since goals help keep you focused, too many can mess you up. Keep the number of goals manageable. Concentrate on the ones that are most relevant to your long-term success.   

Be Specific.  Goals that are too general are often less motivating. Earn more money or spending more time with family are simply too general to propel you to act. Define your goals clearly. Then you can track progress and focus on what actions you need to take to achieve them.

Set Deadlines.  All goals are not created equal. Some are more critical. Others take more time. Give yourself due dates. They help you prioritize and avoid procrastination.

Think Bigger.  Make your goals challenging but realistic. Get out of your comfort zone and put a little stretch into the goals you set. So you are motivated to take action.

Here’s a bonus. Don’t ignore the why. Why is a goal important to you? In many cases, the why is the motivation behind the goal. It makes your goals more meaningful. It is often what drives you to keep going from month to month.

A vision without action is just a dream; an action without vision just passes time; a vision with an action changes the world.

Nelson Mandela

Nothing happens until you take action. So, after you set your goals, jot down what you need to do to accomplish them. Those tasks are your roadmap to success.

Need Help With Setting Goals and Planning?

Then check out my Ultimate Action Planning Guide. This step-by-step guide provides everything you need to create an action plan for your small business. Packed with helpful tools, templates, samples, and worksheets to make it quick, easy, and effective. Plus, some proven ideas to help you increase sales, develop systems, build teams, improve customer satisfaction, and grow profitability.  Buy Now

rethink new year resolution

Time to Rethink Your New Year Resolution?

Did you ditch your new year resolution yet? No surprise that resolutions are as effective as an umbrella in a typhoon. While new year resolutions are a common practice, most people fail to stay on track for more than a few weeks. You may have great intentions, but change requires more than that.  February is here. So now is a good time to rethink the whole resolution thing. Turn them into something more inspiring so you accomplish more in 2023.

Motivation + Goals + Action = Success

Motivation is key to accomplishing any goal you want. But overwhelm, procrastination, or impatience often cause us to give up or hit a roadblock. It is why a new year resolution doesn’t stick. So here are a few things you can do to increase your motivation and accomplish your goals.

Why is the Goal Important?

Before setting any goal, clearly identify why successfully reaching this goal is important to you. The reason why or meaning is the motivation behind your goals.

I want to lose 10 pounds so I have more energy to go hiking with my family is far more motivating than I want to lose weight. I want to increase my income by 20% so we can buy a house is more inspiring than I want to make more money.

Master the why and you will likely overcome a big roadblock – procrastination.

How Will You Get There?

Write down how you plan to achieve your goals. The SMART principle can help:

  • Specific (What exactly do you want to accomplish?)
  • Measurable (How will you know when you have succeeded?)
  • Achievable (Is the goal you have set possible?)
  • Realistic (Does setting this goal make sense for you right now?)
  • Time-bound (What is the specific time frame to accomplish this goal?)

Vague goals create vague results. So, when you write down your goals, make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

What Actions Do You Need to Take?

To quote Nelson Mandela, “A vision without action is just a dream”. The same can be said for goals. So now comes the critical part. Make a to-do list to accomplish your goals.

  • What steps or actions do you need to take? If the tasks are too big, break them down into smaller, manageable pieces.
  • Set deadlines for each task.
  • Schedule time to work on and accomplish them.

I use the Task App on my computer and phone to list the tasks – with deadlines. I then use my calendar to schedule time as needed. It makes it easy to track and prioritize what I need to do – and I enjoy checking things off when completed. Give it a try.

Share Your Goals

Invite others to help you stay on track. Your team, family, and friends may be willing and able to hold you accountable or inspire you to keep going. If focus and accountability are holding you back, get rid of the distractions and find a good accountability partner.

Related:  Need Accountability?

Track Your Progress

Review your ‘to-do’ list at least once per week. Are you meeting the timelines you established? If not, where are the stumbling blocks? Are you procrastinating or easily distracted? Or were you too aggressive – and now feel overwhelmed?

It’s okay. Be kind to yourself on occasions when you fall short. And remember to build in small rewards too for your accomplishments. If necessary, reconsider some of the challenging aspects of your goals. Make changes to your plan. Be realistic and keep going!

About Joan Nowak:  I’ve been helping business owners turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business, common-sense approach empowers my clients and drives improvements in critical areas, including revenue, operations, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability. If accountability is the missing ingredient to help you achieve more, then let’s have a conversation.  Click here to schedule a free phone consultation.


4 Ways To Prioritize Your Business Goals

When it comes to planning, most business owners are not short on ideas for growing sales and profit. They set goals and identify what they need to do to get there. But as you set goals and create your action plan, you need to prioritize business goals and activities. 

You only have so many resources – people, time, and money. You still have a business to run and customers to serve. Be realistic about what you and your team can accomplish each month and quarter. Set priorities.  What’s first, then second, and so forth. Here are a few things to consider as you prioritize business goals and tasks.

4 Ways To Set The Priorities in Your Plan
Top Challenge.

What is the #1 challenge you face today in your business?  Is it getting new customers, getting more from the ones you already have, making more profit from your current sales, delivering consistent service to customers, having the right people, or getting more from them?  Choose at least one or two that address your biggest challenge and work on them first.


How much work and other resources are required to complete the tasks or projects you identified in your plan. The more complex, the fewer you can reasonably handle in a short period of time.

With large, complex projects break down the tasks and spread them out over a few months.  This allows you to make progress without getting overwhelmed, putting them off, or ignoring other areas in your business.  For example, a new website or how-to manual will take more than a month. A marketing campaign or customer feedback survey can be done within 30 days.

Natural Prerequisites.

Sometimes there are things you must do first because they are tied to the success of something you want or need to do in the future.  Here are a few examples.

  • If you plan to use social media, email, or other online strategies but don’t have a website (or your current one needs updating), then the website should be done first to get the most bang from your other efforts.
  • If you get a lot of leads but struggle with converting them to paying customers, you might want to focus on ways to improve your sales conversion rates before you invest in new lead generation or marketing.
Time versus Money.

In a perfect world, we seek balance.  But if money is tight, then focus initially on things that are low or no cost to help you build more revenue, profit, and cash flow.  Then invest in strategies that require additional financial resources.

One caution as you set the priorities in your plan.  Don’t prioritize based on what you like or what is easy.  Putting off what is important for what is easy is just another form of procrastination.  Focus on what will get you results – more sales, profit, control, or freedom.

It’s Never Too Late to Plan

Planning Resources - Act NowNeed help creating your road map for success? You can do it yourself by using my Ultimate Action Planning Guide.

Prefer to work on it with me? Then check out my Action Planning Program just for small business owners. Click here to learn more. 

About Joan Nowak.  As a business improvement expert, business coach, and consultant, I’ve been helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business approach empowers clients and drives improvements in key areas including revenue, operational performance, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.


Better Planning For Better Results

Whether you want double-digit growth or more control and flexibility, you need a road map to get there. Since better planning can create better results, now is the perfect time to reflect and re-set your priorities to achieve more this year.

Planning is not a one-and-done process. Priorities may change as you go through the year based on competition, customers, team or other issues and opportunities. So, it’s not the plan but the process of planning that is essential.

Don’t invest months trying to create the perfect plan. Concise, specific and actionable really do work best.

5 Steps to Get More from Planning

#1 – Look Back. Before you start planning the coming year, take a few minutes to look at where you are today in your business. How do your sales, profit, and other key results compare to the same period last year and your current goals? Are you ahead, on track or behind?

#2 – Acknowledge Accomplishments. Even if you are on track, a natural tendency is to focus on what you didn’t get done or what you could have done better. It’s important to acknowledge your successes, big or small. Jot them down and pat yourself on the back. Most of all, continue to do the things that worked!

#3 – Learn & Adjust. No matter how much you plan or how well you execute, some things may not work out as you expected. We tend to view these as failures. If you learn from mistakes and make changes to improve it next time, you haven’t really failed. You simply delayed success! Don’t dwell on it. Make adjustments for the coming year and move on.

#4 – Set Goals. What do you want to accomplish in the coming year? Be specific and realistic with some stretch – think bigger! Also consider all areas of your business, not just revenue. You will want to track progress, so make your goals measurable. Consider the exact outcomes you want. Here are a few examples. Acquire 4 new customers each month or increase gross profit margins 5% by year-end.

#5 – Identify Key Tasks. Results come from doing so identify the tasks or things you must DO to achieve the goals you set. Most business owners, like you, have revenue growth goals. So, you likely want more leads, better sales conversion or more repeat business. What do you need to do to get them? Your plan should list these tasks. Remember to include time frames or deadlines – they help to keep you on track.

If you want to achieve more in the coming months and year, create the roadmap to help you get there.  Be flexible to take advantage of opportunities that emerge – they will.  Most of all, start doing.

Let the Journey Begin | Free Consultation

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support and accountability from an expert help you take your business in a new and better direction? Let’s explore the possibilities with a brief, complimentary consultation.  No obligation, only opportunity. Click here to schedule your free consultation today.

4 Things Business Owners Should Know

4 Things Business Owners Should Consider When Planning

It’s that time of year again.  If you’ve set some goals for the coming year, excellent!  But do you have an action plan to map out how you will get there?

Don’t let the word plan scare you.  An action plan is simply a sequence of steps you must take or activities that must be performed well in order to accomplish your goals.  It has four elements:  what task must be done, by who and by when and what resources (time, money or people). It’s not complicated – but it is a key to reaching new levels of success. Winning in business, like in sports, begins with preparation.

As you plan for the coming year, keep the following in mind:

  • The profitability of your business depends on how well you and your team consistently perform critical activities.  It’s not about doing a lot of stuff, it’s about doing the right stuff well each and every time.   What are the critical activities in your business and what do you need to do to improve them and do it consistently?
  • Small changes in critical areas can have a great impact on the bottom line.  Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.  As you plan, go beyond marketing and sales.  Look at the people and systems that support your business.  What about the products and services you offer – do they need a facelift? Do your service levels and operations provide a great buying experience each and every time?  Make continuous improvement in all areas a priority in your business.  Your customers and bottom line will thank you!
  • Employees perform best when they understand how their performance affects the bottom line and how their performance is measured.  Have you shared your business goals with your team?  Do they understand how their ‘job’ contributes to success?  Connect the dots and get them engaged. It’s a recipe for success.
  • What gets measured gets done and what gets rewarded gets done again.  Do you want more leads and customers or want to improve efficiency, margins, customer satisfaction or receivables?  Measure, track and share what is critical to your success.  Then, reward the team when results are achieved – so the actions and behaviors that got you results continue to be a priority.
Have You Hit a Planning Road Block?

If you are serious about setting a better course for your business, then check out my Ultimate Guide to Planning and Goal Setting.  With my step by step process, plus easy to use templates and examples, you can create an effective and actionable plan for your small business in less than 8 hours! Click here to learn more and download your copy today.


Who Controls Your Destiny?

I continue to be amazed by the attitudes of people who accept that they have no control over their destiny – in business and in life. They have done it this way for years, so it must be right. Or no one can make money in this economy.

Some of this comes from the beliefs we develop early in life.  Others come from advice we get later.  Think about those who give us advice about business? Some of this advice comes from people who never owned a business or it’s based on assumptions that simply no longer apply. I recently spoke with an owner who was advised not to expand because he would need to take on employees and good people are impossible to find. Talk about holding someone back.

Most limiting beliefs remain with us because we give up what we want most in life for something we want now.

Don’t let fear, self-sabotaging beliefs or the advice of others hold you back. As Jack Welch says, ‘Control your destiny or somebody else will’.

Control Your Destiny By Doing Two Things

Figure Out What You Want. Call these goals, dreams, vision. Visualize what you want and why it’s important to you. And don’t share it with anyone who is likely to tell you why you can’t have your dream.

Make a Plan. Organize yourself. Decide what knowledge you need to gain and what you need to do to get what you want. Find someone who can help you and hold you accountable. Plan your action, then action your plan.

Related: If you need help with planning and goal setting, check out my Ultimate Guide for Planning. 

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email


Does the Big Picture Matter in Business?

 Your business is like a puzzle.  It works best when all the pieces come together.

With free agency underway and the draft approaching, there is certainly a lot of football talk about all the moves.  None more than with our Philadelphia Eagles.   A lot of folks like to analyse each trade and it certainly makes for interesting sports talk radio.  But I prefer to reserve judgment until I see the finished product – the team that takes the field in September.

No matter how impactful a move may appear, evaluating one piece without the big picture simply feels wrong.  But it got me thinking…

How many business owners focus on one thing and ignore the big picture?  Taking actions without the end-goal in mind. Or operating the business without goals and a good sense of where the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities really are?  Or focusing on what’s fun or popular instead of what’s profitable?  Or looking at results in a vacuum disregarding the synergy that comes from getting all the pieces to work together?

A successful football team is a combination of people and schemes (aka systems).  It’s up to the coaches to bring the two together to create a great team.  Those that do it the best, win.  The same is true in a business.

As the owner and leader of your company, it’s up to you to set the direction, bring in the right people and set up the best systems.  Look at the whole business, not just sales.  Keep the end-game in mind. Focus on the stuff that matters.  In small businesses revenue, cost, customer satisfaction and operational performance are typically good starts.  Have a plan – and go out and execute it well.  Victory will be yours.

reach success

Are You Prepared to Reach Success?

The summer is in full swing and we officially hit the half-way point in the year. It’s the perfect time to reflect, re-focus and re-energize. If you developed an action plan earlier in the year, now is a good time to revisit and re-prioritize.

Are you on track to meet or exceed your personal and business goals? If not, what’s holding you back? Were your goals realistic or do you need to stop procrastinating? Do you need to shuffle priorities based on competition, customers, team or other issues and opportunities? Be honest.

Or maybe you didn’t bother to put your goals down and create your road map to get there? Well it’s never too late to start.

Planning is not a one and done effort. It’s an ongoing process that includes monitoring progress and making adjustments. It works best when you follow these simple steps:

  • Look Back. Before you start planning the next 30-90 days and beyond, take a few minutes to look at where you are today – in your business and personally. How do your sales, profit and other key results compare to the same period last year and your current goals? Are you ahead, on track or behind? What about your personal goals – financial, family, social, community, health/fitness, etc?
  • Acknowledge Accomplishments. Even if you are on track, a natural tendency at this point is to focus on what you didn’t get done or what you could have done better. It’s important to acknowledge your successes, big or small. Jot them down and pat yourself on the back.
  • Learn & Adjust.  No matter how much you plan or how well you execute, some things may not work out as you expected. We tend to view these as failures. If you learn from mistakes and make changes to improve it next time, you haven’t really failed. You simply delayed success! Don’t dwell on it – make adjustments and move on.
  • Reset Goals. What specific goals do you want to accomplish over the next 30-90 days? Be realistic. Start with 4 to 5 (not 10 to 20). It’s difficult to stay focused if you have too many ‘critical’ goals. You will want to track progress, so make your goals measurable and consider specific outcomes you want. Here’s a few examples. Acquire 4 new customers each month or increase gross profit margins 5% by October 31st, or arrive home by 6:00 pm at least 3 nights per week.
  • Identify Key Tasks. Results come from doing so for each goal you set above, list the 5-7 key tasks, activities or things you must DO in order to achieve the goal you set. For example, if you set a goal to acquire new customers or increase revenue, one of the things you may need to do is increase the number of leads you receive. What do you need to do to get more leads? Likely a combination of efforts such as — email campaigns, referral system, postcards, monthly website specials, promote via social media, targeted networking and prospecting calls. Be specific, include time frames and assign responsibility, where appropriate.

Take a glass half-full approach. You still have time to finish the year successfully. Decide what you want – and take the actions to get it.

Schedule a Call icon

How Clear Are Your Goals?

Clear Goals & Consistent ActionAccording to the author, Brian Tracy, success is 10% competence, 10% confidence, and 80% clarity.   Lack of clarity is more responsible for underachievement and frustration than any other factor.

I see this a lot when working with small business owners.  Most of them have goals, but they tend to be vague.  And vague goals create vague results.  People with clear goals, in business and in life, accomplish far more than those without them.  With clarity comes a sense of purpose that ultimately forces us into action.

Clear Goals & Consistent Action Equals Success

So how clear are you on what you want?  And what actions are you taking to make those goals a reality? Here is the 7-step process from Brian Tracy to help you get more from your business and life.

  • First, decide exactly what you want in all areas of your life – financial (income, money), relationships (family, friends, community), personal (spiritual, hobbies, health and fitness), personal development (learning, new skills), business or career … to support your financial and lifestyle goals. BE SPECIFIC.
  • Second, write them down in detail.
  • Third, set a specific deadline.  Break down big goals into a series of smaller ones with deadlines.
  • Fourth, write down a list of what you need to DO to achieve each goal.
  • Fifth, prioritize and organize the items into a plan.  You can’t do everything all at once.  What is most important?  Then what, then what?
  • Sixth, take action!  Work on the most important thing first.
  • Seventh, do something every day that moves you toward one or more of your important goals.  Block time off to do it if necessary – but do what you commit to doing.

With clarity and consistent action, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. As my parents were fond of saying when I was a little girl, “Anything worth having is worth working for.”  And yes, achieving the goals you set will require some work on your part – even if it’s only 30 minutes a day. But remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

More Ways to Grow Your Business

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.