Mary Cervantes

Mary Cervantes is a columnist for the Napa Valley Register.

J.L. Sousa/Register

Christmas is here and the new year is just around the corner.

As you approach 2017, it’s only natural to make resolutions about how you want to improve yourself by changing certain behaviors.

This is also true about your business. This is a good time to consider the direction your business is going and the path going forward.

In business, resolutions can be powerful tools. In fact, they can help you set goals to take your business to the next level.

The catch is, once you turn a resolution into a goal, you have to work to achieve it.

Research shows that when entrepreneurs set measurable goals for themselves, they’re more likely to achieve them.

“In 2017, our company goals include completing construction and moving into our new terminal and reservation center,” said Don Rickard, owner of Platypus Tours Limited in Napa.

“We also plan to do a complete makeover of our web site and launch a new tour product targeting larger tour groups.”

There is a common framework to setting goals that is used by all types of management, from major corporations to small business owners—the SMART method.

SMART goals are defined as being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

When it comes to goal setting, the SMART system is simple and gets the job done. Each goal must be defined so that it meets the following criteria:

Specific, achievable and realistic

Make sure your goals are concrete, concise and attainable. Instead of, “I want to make more money this year,” specify: “I want to increase my revenues by X percent (a realistic amount) by the end of the year.”


Frame your goals in a way you can measure your progress. For example, measure monthly or quarterly revenues against the previous year’s figures.

How often do you check on your progress? Weekly? Monthly? How do you know if you’re headed in the right direction?


Focus on attainable goals that can be realistically reached within the year. Break it down into monthly or quarterly increments which will allow you to build on the momentum of goal achievement.

It’s best to track the progress of where your business stands in relation to your goals. Write your goals down and keep them handy. Your business plan is the ideal location for updating and tracking your business goals.

Don’t have a business plan? Consider NxLeveL Entrepreneurial Training!

NxLeveL for Entrepreneurs is a multi- week program designed to teach you how to plan for success. In each three-hour session, certified instructors lead you through the business plan process of goal-setting, business strategies, financial accountability, and management techniques.

“New Year’s resolutions often include starting a business or expanding the business you have. NxLeveL Entrepreneurial Training program is the way to achieve your 2017 resolutions,” said Sandy Stelter, SBDC Business Advisor and NxLeveL Certified Facilitator.

“Let this be the year that you take the steps to do it.”

If you are interested in learning more about NxLeveL or want to meet with an SBDC Business Advisor to discuss your business plan, contact the Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center at (707) 256-7250 or visit

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or