December is a great month for reflecting on the outgoing year and setting goals for the one ahead. What worked and what didn't? What were your biggest victories and challenges this year? Start planning now to make the new year a success. What would you like to achieve? Would you like your business to be profiled in the Wall Street Journal? How about getting the local jewelry stores to start carrying your handmade pieces? Or maybe you make the best chocolate chip cookies ever and want to finally get something tangible for your efforts (especially since the weak dollar has produced a nasty spike in the price of gourmet chocolate chips)?

Just like the journey of thousand miles starts with a single step, careful construction of a billion-dollar business empire begins with a good Business Goals Plan. You can skip a few steps if you manage to get funding from a venture capitalist or inherit a small fortune. The rest of us, though, really do have to take that first step. So what is this mysterious Business Goals Plan? It's a list of your targeted goals along with the actions required to achieve them.

The idea is deceptively simple, but it does work. Several social scientists conducted studies to evaluate common traits shared by successful businesses. The researchers found that setting a well-defined set of goals was a major reason for their success. Here are a few tips for creating your goals plan for the upcoming year:

Set goals for all aspects of your business. Everything you do in your business (marketing, public relations, networking, sales) is done to acquire new clients. The best business strategy usually includes a balanced combination of all of the above - networking, PR, sales, and marketing. A diversity of promotional techniques increases the pool of potential clients.

Set goals for all aspects of promoting your business. Figure out how many marketing campaigns you would like to run, how much time to spend networking, etc.

Quantify Your Goals. "I would like more customers" or "I would like more sales" are probably two goals that pop into your head almost immediately. However, these goals are not particularly effective, since they are hard to quantify. How much is "more"? For some businesses, an extra hundred thousand dollars in sales can double annual revenues. Others spend that amount on paper clips.

Good goals must be quantifiable. Examples include "Acquire 25 new customers during the next year" or "Increase sales by $50K/year". Measurable goals will help you keep track of your progress throughout the year.

With a bit of creative thinking, virtually any goal can be quantified, even if that seems implausible at first. If your goal is to engage in additional offline networking, specify how many face-to-face networking events you should attend each month. For online networking, specify the number of online networking communities you should attend and how much time to spend participating in each one.

Set Reasonable Goals. While your goals are all about stretching yourself and achieving more in the upcoming year, resist the urge to take on unrealistic, blue-sky projects. While you can reasonably increase your revenues by 50%, it's unlikely that you will match those of Wal-Mart in the next sixth months.

The idea is to use goals as a motivational tool. Goals will have the opposite effect if the chance of achieving them is nearly zero. Strive to be reasonable when setting your expectations. Laws of nature place a limit on what can be achieved in a given time period. No one has yet managed to figure out how to squeeze more than twenty-four hours into a day. It should be noted, however, that solving this particular problem would almost certainly allow you to become bigger than Wal-Mart in the next six months.

Keep Track of your Goals. Simply writing down your goals is not enough. You must track your progress. Revisit your goals often --- every two to three weeks is a reasonable duration. Monitor your progress and note whether you are on track to achieve your goals or whether they need additional work.

Goal setting is a crucial element of the success of your business. Set your goals today to achieve more with your business in the upcoming year.

Author's Bio: 

About the author: Biana Babinsky is an online marketing expert who has helped many business owners attract more web site customers, bring in more online publicity and increase the bottom line. Visit to subscribe to her newsletter full of marketing tips and ideas.