A big part of running a business involves looking ahead and planning for the future and, ideally, even if not mapping objectives out so specifically, you should have a perspective of where you want to be in three to five years’ time.
Having goals for your business, and targets to work towards, can help to provide a sense of direction, a focus, and motivation. Yet, whilst you recognise the importance of such an exercise, you may be struggling to identify your aims effectively.
The ‘SMART’ method is well known, and relies on five key criteria – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Based – which allow you to not only identify your targets, but to understand how you might achieve them.
What is the plan to get your business where you want it to be?
It may be that, before you embark on setting significant, and perhaps long-term, objectives, it would be useful to consider whether you have the basics wrapped up. For example:
- Do you know what your USP is (i.e., the thing/s that set you apart from your competitors), and could you explain it to somebody outside of your business?
- Can you envisage your ideal customer? Is that the demographic you’re already attracting, or do you need to find a way to reach them?
- Are you maximising the potential of your staff, and the talent within your team? Understanding how to get the best out of your workforce is essential, since these are the people who are going to help you achieve your goals.
Building SMART goals into your business plan
A specific goal clearly defines what needs to be achieved, by whom, by when and often why its ultimate fulfilment is important to the organisation.
The only way to know what progress you’re making towards a goal, or indeed when you’ve met your target, is to make it measurable.
Asking questions like ‘how much?’, ‘how often?’ or ‘how many?’ can help you to draw focus back to the goal as regularly as you need to and to stay on track.
Breaking big objectives down into smaller milestones can help with measuring success too.
Whatever goals you set for your business; they should always be achievable and, wherever possible, informed by the data and analytics you have access to.
Be a realist, and don’t overestimate what you are able to do with the resources available just because it sounds ‘better’. Unattainable targets kill motivation, as people expect to fail before they’ve even made a start.
Ensuring your goals are relevant to your business, and where it is presently, is equally as important as identifying goals for the future.
It doesn’t always have to be about ‘new’ initiatives and ‘ground-breaking’ innovation, but instead could be about reacting to industry trends, or fine-tuning existing processes.
Perhaps a mix of goals with short, and long-term importance will strike the right balance for your organisation.
Whilst it may sound like we’re stating the obvious, give yourself a window of time within which you’d like to achieve your goal/s.
A clear objective, with a firm deadline or regular review points attached to it can mitigate the apathy you and your employees might feel towards otherwise vague intentions and plans.
Supporting you with a smarter approach to setting goals…
It is often the case that business owners see the end of the year as an opportunity to review successes and identify objectives for the new year ahead.
If you find that you struggle to set goals, or you’ve identified objectives but now need help to monitor KPIs and track your progress, we can help.
Our chartered accountants and business advisers have many years’ experience supporting businesses of all sizes, and across a range of industries, with the preparation and implementation of an effective business plan and strategy.
Contact us today to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our team of experts.