It’s, spring, that time of the year when hope springs eternal. Spring signifies new beginnings, warmer temperatures, and the start of another season for service industry businesses. With all the psychology of spring about growth, positivity, and new beginnings, it’s no surprise if business owners start their seasons with high expectations.
What are your expectations for the coming 2018 season? I’m sure you have some, but have you listed them? Now’s a great time to put them in writing, so you can decide how well they fit your reality.
The next time you have an unexpected rain day (which shouldn’t be too long), why not spend an hour or two thinking about your expectations for the coming year, and what it’s going to take to get there?
Now write them all down, and don’t leave out the details.
Congratulations – You’ve just created a set of goals for the year!
Refining Your Expectations
Once you’ve got your expectations in front of you, ask yourself a few meaningful questions to make sure they’re workable as goals. We suggest you start with these three:
- Do they challenge you?
- Are they realistic?
- Will they support your financial and growth goals?
Will These Goals Challenge You?
Pursuing your goals should have a positive effect on your output and performance. If they don’t help you be more productive than just showing up in the morning and “winging-it” each day, they won’t do you much good.
Think about the biggest challenges your business faces. Quality? Consistency? Efficiency? Reliability? Do these goals address the tough ones?
Are Your Goals Realistic?
When striving to push yourself and your organization, it can be easy to aim too high. It’s great to have goals that push your teams to over-perform, but there’s also risk. As David Packard (Of Hewlett Packard) famously said, “More organizations die of indigestion than starvation”. Translated for small business, we might say that being too aggressive is just as dangerous as not being aggressive enough.
We’ve all set goals that relied on a string of best-case results, but realistically, how many wins can you expect in a row before something unexpected happens? Even in your best season ever, weren’t there setbacks along the way? Make sure your expectations make room for setbacks, so your plans aren’t disrupted the first time something to goes wrong.
Will These Goals Support Your Growth?
While the first two questions mostly address the “How” part of this, you also need to know the “What”; will the end results of reaching your goals benefit your business. And of course “benefit” can mean lots of things, depending upon your long-term plans.
Will they lead to greater sales and more profits?
Will they help you grow your footprint or position yourself for expansion?
Will they help you counter a threat in the market or simplify your supply chain?
Too often, when we see companies talk about their “goals”, they think only about the goals they would like to achieve in a best-case scenario. The goal setting process seems foreign and gets done outside of the normal operation of your business, which can detach goals from reality.
But approaching your goals from the perspective of your expectations… the things you expect to actually happen in your business… offers a different point of view. It’s an approach that takes the mystery out of goal setting and might work better for your business.
Sometimes the best way to set your goals for the coming season is to think about what you expect and how you’ll react to it, rather than what you wish for but may not be able to achieve. Struggling to set goals for 2018? Give it a try!