Setting Business Goals to Future Proof Your Practice

December 06, 2022

Imagine meeting with a new client for the first time and sending them off at the end of the consultation with vague instructions, a pat on the shoulder, and parting words to just “try your best.” You’d never do this, of course, because you know setting up a concrete plan that includes well-defined goals is the most effective way to drive meaningful change. Documenting goals works to trigger new behaviors and keep clients focused on how to future proof their long-term success. 

Setting up a business goal template for your practice is no different. By outlining clear objectives around what you specifically want to achieve, you can more easily make a plan to get there, and keep yourself accountable by measuring your progress. 

With the end of year approaching, and much economic uncertainty in the air, it’s the perfect time to revisit your past objectives and ignite refined goal setting for 2023. 

What is Future Proofing?

Future proofing your practice means setting it up to withstand or minimize the impact of unanticipated future events. It basically involves taking strategic steps to cement your continued success for the long term – and setting business goals is a big part of driving that success. 

The process of formally reflecting on your goals forces you to pause, go deeper, and get really specific about the things you want to achieve and why. Naturally, part of the process will include thinking about strategies and tactics that help you generate stable, recurring revenue for your practice. Research has shown goals that are specific and challenging lead to higher performance than goals that are too easy or generic. Essentially, well-defined goals help to drive the right behaviors, and doing the right things creates momentum to keep going down a successful path.

The Importance of Refining Your Business Goals

Set it and forget it doesn’t apply to business goals. A goal you create at the beginning of the year can be impacted by many factors, like emerging competitive threats, false assumptions around what services clients want, and even recession-related income loss leading to people making deprioritizing investments in health-enhancement services. That’s why a sound future-proofing strategy includes revisiting and refining your business goals template at least once a year. 

Carving out time in your busy calendar to focus on your business goals isn’t easy, but it can mean the difference between growing next year or falling behind. The end of the year is a logical time to look at your business goals with fresh eyes, since our minds naturally turn towards fresh starts and what opportunities lie ahead in the new year.

Goal-Setting Reflection Activity

Filling out a goal setting worksheet is a valuable exercise, but before you put pen to paper it’s important to step back and reflect on some key questions around your business goals. Here are some thought starters:

  1. What worked well in 2022? And, on the flip side, what didn’t work so well? 
  2. What are your current revenue streams and are you heavily skewed towards a single source of income (e.g., 1:1 client meetings)? 
  3. Is there an opportunity to experiment with diversifying your income in 2023? 
  4. Can you explore strategic partnerships for passive income ideas? (e.g. A holistic nutritionist and a local foods chef who runs online cooking classes could partner to create a subscription service for wellness-centered eating plans, complete with shopping lists and step-by-step prep videos.)
  5. Have there been significant changes in your customers, market, and/or competition over the past year? 
  6. How might inflationary pressures and the predicted recession impact client spending on your services? Can you offer lower-cost programming to accommodate those with tighter budgets?

What are your overarching goals to acquire new clients and retain existing clients? What actions can you take to surprise and delight current clients to help reduce churn?

Creating Your Goal-Setting Worksheet

You’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. So, we’ve created a handy goal-setting worksheet to get you started. Make sure to block enough time to fill it out thoroughly and remember to break goals down into smaller steps where possible. Keeping your plans bite-sized makes them less daunting to put into action.

Once you’re happy with the content in your goal-setting worksheet, resist the urge to file it away in a drawer somewhere. Instead, keep it in plain sight as a visual reminder of what’s most important to you and the ongoing health of your practice. You can even add monthly or quarterly reminders in your calendar to check in on your progress.

We’ve put together a goal-setting worksheet to help you organize your business goals for 2023! Click here to download a PDF version and access the Google document. 

Goal setting worksheet PDF

Establishing Your SMART Goals

All goals are not created equal. One trusted goal-setting framework is to make them SMART, where SMART is a mnemonic acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Leveraging the SMART method encourages you to get specific and adjust as needed – two important components for future-proofing your success.

  • Make it SPECIFIC. Setting vague business goals like “increase the number of new clients” sounds positive, but unless you put a specific target in place you won’t know whether you’ve met the goal. In contrast, adding a statement like “increase new clients by 10%” to your goal-setting worksheet makes it crystal clear what success looks like. Make sure you also record the steps you think are required to achieve the goal. 
  • Make it MEASURABLE. If we continue our example of setting a new client acquisition target, identifying a number gives you something to measure your progress against and course-correct in real-time if it looks like you are going to fall short.
  • Make it ATTAINABLE. You might be tempted to shoot for the stars when goal-setting, but going too big can actually backfire. Increasing your client base by 200% sounds great for revenue, but if you don’t have the right budget and tactics in place to make it happen you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. When it comes to goal setting, keeping targets within reason puts them within reach.
  • Make it RELEVANT. Staying relevant requires asking yourself why the goal makes sense for your practice and whether it’s worth the time and effort you’ll need to put into achieving it. For example, a holistic massage therapist with a goal of diversifying her income will likely have more success building out a course that delivers a stretching program for pain-proofing than she will offering nutritional counseling. The former is an obvious extension of her established expertise, while the latter feels like it lands outside her wheelhouse.  
  • Make it TIME-BOUND. Your business goal-setting worksheet should help you get specific around when you want to achieve a particular goal. Recording deadlines will create structure, keep you accountable, and help you prioritize where to funnel your time and energy.

Prioritize Your Business Goals

In a world where you have endless time and resources you’d be able to crush all your goals. But in the real world (where you need to eat, sleep, and have downtime) being realistic about what you can achieve in a given period will help to protect you from burnout and disappointment. 

Once you’ve filled out your goal setting worksheet, you can prioritize your business goals by categorizing them as short-term or long-term. Within those two categories, you can further prioritize your goals by ranking them from most important to least important. 

Short-term goals 

A short-term goal is something you set out to accomplish in the near future. How you define “near future” depends on how much time you can dedicate to achieving the goal, but the typical timeline for a short-term goal is measured in weeks or months, rather than years. 

For example, a nutritionist might have a goal to increase client referrals by 20% over the next quarter. In order to achieve that goal, she can ask every client at the end of a 1:1 consultation if they’d consider referring her to their network. She can also implement a Tell-a-Friend promo that offers existing clients free access to a set of menu planning templates if they refer a certain number of new clients. 

Long-term goals

Long-term goals tend to be more strategic or visionary in nature. They are driven by big-picture thinking and will usually be achieved by successfully completing a series of short-term goals. Because they require more work and take more time to achieve, a practice will typically only have a small number of long-term goals.  

Imagine an integrative mental health professional wants to create a podcast focused on the intersection of psychiatric and natural treatment for ADHD and Autism. The long-term goal is to build an invested audience, supporting them with quality insights and information, drive advertising revenue, and establish thought leadership that could lead to other opportunities, like speaking engagements. 

This practitioner has a lot of short-term goals to complete before they can reach their longer-term goals, including: 

  • Defining their audience
  • Choosing a name for the podcast
  • Determining podcast format
  • Choosing and sourcing recording equipment and space
  • Determining who will edit the podcast, them or a third-party
  • Filling the pipeline with potential guests
  • Making a plan for distribution and promotion
  • Deciding on a launch date (and more)

Future-proof your practice as a gift to future you

Running your own practice means having endless distractions vying for your attention. Having well-defined and prioritized business goals is critical for focusing your time and resources on the things that matter most. Carefully documenting and prioritizing your goals now might take a little time, but the future-proofing benefits to your practice make the investment well worth it. So, what are you waiting for? Block some time in your calendar, download your goal-setting worksheet, and get started.

Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians, and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today.

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