It’s fair to say that 2020 was a tumultuous year for businesses, James River Capital included. Shutdowns, reduced location capacity, staffing issues, and shipping delays created countless obstacles for businesses around the globe.
With 2020 in our rearview mirror, it’s tempting to avoid setting any goals for your business in 2021. After all, with so much uncertainty in the world, won’t your goals go up in smoke, much like they did in 2020?
James River Capital believes that goal-setting is still important in 2021, despite the ongoing pandemic and political unrest. After all, leaders who set goals are 10 times more likely to be successful. Goals give you something to aim for in 2021. You might not reach your goals, but they do give you and your team a sense of purpose in a tumultuous time.
Overcome the dread of the new year by setting solid business goals for yourself and your team. Whether you want to increase revenue, cut costs, improve the customer experience, or improve your team’s skills, goals will take you further, faster.
In this guide, James River Capital’s co-founder, Paul Saunders, shares how the company is creating goals for 2021 despite the uncertainty.
About James River Capital & Paul Saunders
Along with his business partner, Paul Saunders acquired James River Capital back in 1995. In the 25 years since founding the company, Paul has served as CEO and Chairman of the Richmond, Virginia, company.
Today, Paul puts his 30+ years of experience in finance to work for James River Capital’s clients. His goal is to find ways to balance portfolios with alternative investments, like commodity trading. James River Capital optimizes these investments for both risk and returns.
5 tips to set achievable business goals in 2021
Not sure how to steer your business through the murky waters of 2021? Follow these 5 tips from James River Capital to set actionable, realistic goals that will flex with the uncertainties of the new year.
1 – Set goals on what you can control
You can’t set a goal like “End the pandemic” because that’s not completely within your control. Your 2021 goals should focus on what’s within your direct realm of control.
Instead of setting pie-in-the-sky goals that aren’t achievable for your organization, be realistic. That might mean moving your business to a 100% remote model. Or revamping your customer retention strategy. Or improving employee morale.
Many business leaders felt blindsided by the pandemic, which is understandable. If you want to give your team a greater degree of control, create a goal to overhaul your disaster planning. Instead of scrambling in the wake of a disaster, you’ll have a playbook ready for action. With a plan in place, you’ll be free to address emergencies efficiently, minimizing the likelihood that they’ll derail your goals for 2021.
2 – Focus on the long-term
The pandemic will end eventually, but it will likely be around for much of 2021. The uncertainty that comes with the pandemic means business leaders should focus not on one-year goals, but a 10-year plan.
Take a big-picture view of your business. What’s your mission? What’s the long-term vision for your business? What does success look like in a decade?
Your 2021 goals should be in service to this grand 10-year vision. For example, if you want to become an industry leader in customer service, what changes need to happen every year to make that come to fruition? If you’re only offering customer service via email right now, that might mean laying the groundwork for an infrastructure that supports customer phone calls, for example.
Take your 10-year vision and convert it into annual goals. From there, split that goal into 4, or one for each quarter. Continue breaking the goal down to monthly, weekly, and even daily goals.
Here’s an example:
- 10-year goal: Become an industry leader in customer service.
- 2021 goal: Create infrastructure for customer phone calls.
- Q1 goal: Meet with the customer service team and IT to determine the scope of a solution.
- Q2 goal: Conduct customer interviews to identify pain points.
- Q3 goal: Purchase or create a call center solution for the brand.
- Q4 goal: Perform beta testing and iterate the processes or technology until it’s ready to roll out.
… and so on. James River Capital recommends assigning a deadline to each goal to hold you and your team accountable. It’s okay if you need more time or if there’s been a delay, but deadlines are essential if you want to actually achieve your 2021 goals.
3 – Track meaningful KPIs
KPIs, or key performance indicators, make your goals measurable. They take a lofty goal like “Earn more revenue” and turn it into an actionable powerhouse like, “Earn 10% more annually over our 2020 earnings.”
KPIs make it clear whether you’ve actually achieved your goals. KPIs can also work as an early warning system if you aren’t on track to meet your goals, helping you course-correct before it’s too late.
Your KPIs will depend on your goal, but businesses often track KPIs like:
- Sales won.
- Customer retention.
- Employee retention.
KPIs are more than vanity metrics, like website views or employee hours. Unless these metrics are directly tied to your goal, they aren’t as important.
Because KPIs act as an accountability system, you and your team should meet regularly to discuss your KPIs. If the world changes significantly in 2021, as it did in 2020, you can flex your KPIs to meet the new reality while continuing to focus on your annual goals.
4 – Write down and share your goals
Are all of your employees aware of your business goals? Don’t silo goals to the leadership team: transparency is the key to meeting your KPIs and achieving your goals. Leaders should publicize business goals, especially if you’re holding employees accountable for those goals.
The more concrete your goals, the higher the likelihood that your organization will meet them. Post your goals on the company bulletin board, in the monthly employee newsletter, in your internal group chats, and anywhere else they can be easily seen. Help employees collectively commit to the organization’s goals, which provides another layer of accountability.
5 – Remember to celebrate
Business leaders are often so busy focusing on their to-do list that they forget to acknowledge how far they’ve come. As you achieve goal milestones, be sure to celebrate!
Celebrations don’t require parties or an expensive budget. James River Capital suggests Friday shoutouts for exceptional employees, for example. By acknowledging your team’s hard work, you’ll build morale and improve your chances of success.
The bottom line
Regardless of what the world throws at you in 2021, flexible goals can help your business achieve its goals. By breaking down a long-term goal into small, actionable steps, you’ll still make greater strides than if you set no goals at all. Use this five-step plan from Virginia’s James River Capital to turn over a new leaf this year, reducing uncertainty in your business and improving your chances for success.