How to set business goals for the new year?

How to set business goals for the new year?

Business Development

Sridhar Narayanaswamy

Sridhar Narayanaswamy

289 week ago — 5 min read

Summary: At the start of the year, one may come across several articles on how to set business goals. But there is nothing quite like the practical, hands-on experience of a seasoned entrepreneur who understands that often there is a huge gap between intention and result. With an interesting anecdote, Sridhar Narayanaswamy explains how to set clear, actionable business goals in 2019. Read on and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Last January, I was called for a top management meeting of a company owned by a close friend. He had called the heads of various departments to present to him, the business goals they wished to achieve in the new year. He believed that all plans, goals or targets are mostly on paper and do not translate into reality.  My job was to ask tough questions and make the team think.

Each department head had come with a grandiose plan for their respective departments. Some wanted a bigger expense budget, some wanted more resources and it was for the marketing head of department (HOD) to say how much business they intended to win that year.  It was left for my friend to talk about how he would like to see the company grow, his vision for the company, what challenges are expected and how one should face them.

Now it was my turn.

When I asked a simple question about how each department objective aligns with the company objective, there were some good answers. My next question was, how does the plan of a department sync with the business plan of another department. Yes, you guessed right. Everyone rushed for a coffee break!

My friend is a hardcore delegator and does not like to carry another person’s monkey on his shoulder. He often says, "Let them learn by mistakes, no worries. But also ensure they don’t repeat the same mistakes."

So, he gave the team time to deliberate and let the meeting continue.

I asked the head of operations to read out the business goals that were set for the previous year and to list those that were met and that fell short. The next question was, if the same goal is set for the current year, what steps will be taken to ensure the same shortfall will not happen again.

The meeting went on and because of such uncomfortable questions, everyone wanted to have some more time for deliberations among themselves. Here, my input was that the HODs must do a complete analysis before presenting and be prepared with answers for anticipated questions and with reasonable amount of facts.

Let us look carefully at what was happening at the meeting. All of them were experts in their respective domains, possessed good years of experience and had been contributing to the growth of the company. However, the realisation of inter-dependency among the departments and that there are common goals to be met, was not so much in evidence.

Pointing out the areas to tighten, therefore, was easy and it really did help. In the year 2018, they won many new customers and their business has grown.

Let me summarise my thoughts on how business goals should be set. I do understand that this list may not be perfect, and readers are welcome to share their own feedback for me to learn further.

  • Business goals of an organisation must percolate down to the department level goals.

  • Business goals of each department are inter-dependent because no department exists on its own.

  • Business goals must be realistic and not overly pessimistic or overly optimistic.

  • One should measure the achievements and shortfalls of the previous years and take them into consideration.

  • One must realise that change is inevitable and so the goals or plans. However, that must not deter one from planning or setting a goal.  Failing to plan is a sure way of planning to fail.

  • While setting a business goal, one must also anticipate possible changes or impacts. It is for the department heads to be ready for changes and equip themselves in advance. All of us knew that GST was coming. However, when it did come into existence, how many were ready? 

  • With technology entering every walk of our life, better make friends with technology. Look for new technological initiatives that could save time and cost, that could improve efficiency, that could enable more quality of your products and services. For this one must be continually updating their knowledge. Awareness of the usefulness of new technologies will help in setting up business goals and to work for achieving those goals.

Wishing all GlobalLinker members success in achieving their business goals and dreams in the new year and ever after.


To explore business opportunities, link with me by clicking on the 'Invite' button on my eBiz Card.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.

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Sridhar Narayanaswamy

Managing partner of Innovatus Systems, founded by him on January 1, 2013. Sridhar is a result oriented professional with over four decades in the Information Technology &...

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