Planning your business

Essential tips for business goal setting

The road to a successful business is paved with simple, clear, strategic goals. Our six tips will show you how to write goals that set your business up for success.

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Start with research

Prepare for writing your goals by taking an inwards look at what makes your business tick. Think about the big picture – where do you want to be in a few years’ time? What are your short-term goals compared with your long-term goals?

Think about challenges and opportunities, as well as things you can do to strengthen areas that are not your strong points. If you haven’t already done so as part of your business plan, carry out a SWOT analysis. This tool encourages you to examine the following for your business:


  • What your business does well
  • What sets you apart from your competition
  • What assets and resources (including staff) you have


  • Any limits and gaps in resource that might be stunting your growth
  • Any aspects where your business doesn’t perform as well as your competitors 


  • Any gaps in the market where there’s a need for your product
  • Media coverage
  • Lack of competition


  • Any negative press
  • A change in customer sentiment
  • Any new competitors
  • Regulations that might affect your business

As well as looking inwards, look outwards at your market and your competition. Consider benchmark performance indicators to help you compare how your business may perform against others in your industry. 

You can find industry benchmarks on the Stats NZ website, and useful tools and calculators on the Inland Revenue website.

Make your goals SMART

SMART is a useful framework for setting your goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

  • Specific: Make sure your goals are focused and relate clearly to where you want your business to go.
  • Measurable: Include figures, facts, and milestone dates so you can measure your achievements against the goals you’ve set.
  • Achievable: Set goals that take you out of your comfort zone with a bit of a stretch – but make sure they’re realistic, so you have a chance at success.
  • Relevant: Make sure your goals relate to your business purpose and fit your business plan.
  • Time-bound: Add firm deadlines and timeframes to your goals to motivate you to achieve them. 

For example, ‘I am going to be more successful at selling,’ might become ‘I will increase website sales of Product A by 5% each month for the next five months.’

Make your goals your own

Figure out what you want, not what someone else has suggested for you to aim for.  By following your own path, you’ll have more conviction and determination to achieve goals you’ve set for yourself.

Monitor and adjust

Keep track of your progress. If your goal is to increase sales by 5% each month, review your figures at the end of the month. That way you’ll know if you’re on target or if you need to do something differently. Sometimes you’ll find that your goals need to be adjusted along the way – and that’s ok.

Write them down and share with others

Write down your goals, keep them where you can see them, and tell others what you’re going to do. Written goals are more effective because the process of writing helps you get clarity on what you want. Displaying your goals and telling others about them keeps you committed and motivated.

Celebrate success

If you achieve your goal (or better yet, beat it) make sure you reward yourself. Being in business can be challenging, so make sure you take the time to recognise your success – it’ll help ‘fill your cup’ for the next challenge.

How to create an effective business plan

Create a simple, yet effective business plan: from setting SMART objectives to conducting a SWOT analysis, understanding your customers to marketing strategies.

Business plan template

Creating a business plan might seem daunting – but it doesn’t have to be. Our business plan template will help you create your own business plan from scratch.

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