It’s that time of year when people start thinking about “Resolutions” for the coming year.
The start of a new year does offer a natural starting point, and it’s always a good time to think about what you do and how to do it better. But a resolution is really just another goal you set for yourself. And like all goals, the most important step in actually achieving it is… Good Planning.
What goals are on the top of your list for 2018? And how will you go about setting them?
Try our 4-Step Process:
Step 1. Start With Setting Strategic Goals –
These are the big ones… like how much do I want to try to grow my business, and how much profit do I plan to make? You can write this as a growth rate (I plan to grow 25% next year), or you can set goal for a specific time period (I plan to reach $1 Million in revenue in 2019).
Each company has to find its own strategic goals based on its own needs. And each company already has strategic goals, even if they’ve never been written down.
To define them, ask yourself two things… what is my company like in the future, and when is this new future? Describe it. Answer basic questions like how many employees work for this company, who are your customers, and what all do you sell them? Ask lots of questions… be specific… write the answers down… use this model to drive decisions.
For a top-level goal, you can say something simple like “I want to do $1 Million in business by 2019 with 15% profit”. The most important things are to define:
- What will your company become?
- When will it happen?
Step 2. Set Supporting Goals–
High-level supporting goals are critical. They answer the important question of “how am I going to get there”. Setting good supporting goals is what keeps your day-to-day operation in line with your long-term vision.
This is the hardest part of planning, where you start linking your vision of the future to the actions of today.
Say you have 200 customers now and a $500,000 business. To reach $1 million by 2019, you might need to add 200 more customers in 2018. And how will you do that? If your plan is to get there by:
- Quoting 50 new customers a month
- Generating positive customer reviews
- Building a strong brand,
…those are supporting goals, and each requires multiple actions to achieve them.
… With Layers of Supporting Goals –
Each of your supporting goals leads directly to meeting the bigger goal. You can have multiple layers of supporting goals, each supporting the ones above it. So to generate 50 quotes a month for example, you plan to
- Add a new estimator
- Get more efficient through software
- Advertise to generate more raw leads
These goals in a simple goals pyramid:
Supporting goals also help you prioritize investments. As you look toward the future, where do you see gaps? What does this future company do that you don’t do already? How are you going to bridge those gaps and when will you do it?
And are there things you plan to do in 2018 that don’t support these goals? If so, should you still do them? Prioritize your investments to support your goals.
Step 3. Keep Your Goals Simple and Few–
One of the key benefits of goal setting is to help you focus. Trying to pursue too many goals at the same time can be as bad as not pursuing any. Keep your high-level goals few, so you can focus on them.
This may require hard decisions about which goals to pursue now and which to defer until later, so prioritization is also important. We recommend from 2 to maybe 10 upper-level goals, which all support your top-level strategic goal.
Step 4. Make Sure Your Goals are SMART –
The SMART test is a great way to validate the goals you set. When setting goals at any level, the SMART test helps you ensure that your goals can be effective.
Ask yourself if your goals are:
- Specific – What is expected, why is it important and who is going to do it?
- Measurable – How will I know if it’s done? How will I know if we’re on track?
- Achievable – Is it possible and realistic to succeed?
- Relevant – Will achieving this goal drive you toward a meaningful objective?
- Time-Based – Specifically, when will the goal be met… or be un-met but finished?
If each goal can identify the who, why and what; if its progress can be measured, if it is possible, if it addresses your big-picture objectives, AND, if you can give it a timeframe, it can be a SMART goal. If it fails any one of these tests, Try Again.
Keep Planning –
Our 4-Step model isn’t the most-formal or rigorous planning process, but it can give you a quick win for 2018. If the system works for you, use it to create annual and quarterly goals to plan out your growth from year to year and from season to season.
2018 is coming… it’ll be here sooner than you think. But you still have time to plan for your success. No plan is perfect, but the biggest mistake is to have no plan at all.
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