Goal setting is one of the most important activities that you can do as a small business owner. Regardless of how old your business is, where it’s located, how much profit you’re making, or the products or services that you sell, goals can help you stay focused and prevent your business from falling behind. And, your business goals will help to keep you moving forwards, and set you up for ongoing success.

While many of us often think of goal setting when setting New Year’s resolutions, the fact is that it’s equally important to be working on your business goals at any part of the year. You should be setting goals several times each year, taking steps to track your progress, and adjusting the strategies that you use, if necessary, to ensure that you’re in the best position to achieve the goals that you set on an ongoing basis.

In order to get you off to the best start with your small business goals this year, we’ve put together a list of goal ideas that have the potential to create changes for the better within your business. Choose some that you feel are fitting for your small business and turn them into achievable goals that you can tackle in the coming months.

#1. Reduce Ongoing Business Expenses

Reducing ongoing business expenses is a goal that is a good fit for most small businesses. And, what business owner does not want to spend less when it comes to running their business? When you set a goal to reduce expenses for the year, be sure to get specific when it comes to how you’re planning to reduce business costs – for example, reducing business debt, using more technology, or changing operations in order to make your goals stick.

#2. Hire Your First Employee

If your sole trader business has gotten to a point this year where you’re struggling to maintain it all on your own, then a great goal to set for this year is to expand by hiring your first employee. But before you start, make sure that you are legally ready to hire employees by having all the correct insurance and health and safety measures in place, for example. Take some time to consult with your lawyer and your accountant to ensure that you are following all of the necessary regulations and confirm that now is an ideal time for you to hire an employee. You might also want to consider changing the structure of your business from a sole trader to a Limited Liability Company (LLC) before hiring. This helpful guide answers the question ‘what is an LLC’ and also looks at how to form an LLC in different states. If you aren’t sure of what is an LLC, this resource is a good place to start.

#3. Increase Traffic to Your Website or Blog

Increased website traffic will usually translate to more website sales and better customer loyalty, which is why this is such a great goal for any small business. There are many strategies that you can use to get more eyes onto your website or blog; begin by coming up with a plan to improve your content marketing strategy. Once you have relevant content to share on your website or blog, you can use it to drive more targeted website traffic.

#4. Start Using Social Media Marketing

Another great goal to have alongside increasing traffic to your website is to start using more social media marketing. It’s never too late to add a new marketing tactic to your business – and if you’ve not been using social media much up until now, there’s never been a better time to get started. Spend some time learning more about using social media for small business, set up profiles on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn if you haven’t already, and incorporate these platforms into your marketing goals by being active on them and sharing relevant, high-quality content to your audience.

#5. Come Up with a New Product or Service

If you haven’t changed your product line or the range of services that you offer for a while, then creating a new product or coming up with a new service to offer can be an ideal goal for breathing new life into your business. As you get started with this goal, it’s a good idea to consider the feedback that you have received from your customers so far and reflect on their buying behaviors to determine the best type of product or service to add to your offering.

#6. Open a Second Location

If you have a physical store, restaurant, café or another location that’s doing well, the coming year could be the time to think about whether or not you should open a second location. Be sure to carefully consider the location that you choose for your business; you will want to go with one that is similar to the location that you’re doing well in, in terms of footfall and demographic. City center locations, for example, tend to be good choices – but be sure to scope out the competition before you make a decision.

#7. Boost Your Business’s Financial Health

Have you got a handle on the money that is coming in and out of your business on a day to day basis? Do you have an ongoing budget that allows you to track your expenditure? If not, then make a goal for the upcoming year to lock down your spending, get on top of money and improve the financial health of your business.

#8. Go Green

Finally, going green can be a very good goal for any small business to have, with many benefits to reap. Greener business practices not only mean that you will save more money by using less energy, paper and other resources – but you’ll also be making an impression on today’s eco-conscious consumers, who prefer to use brands that are careful about the effect that they are having on the environment. There are several ways in which you can go greener with your business, including recycling more and using renewable energy.

Which of these business goals are the right ones for your brand?