Setting goals to win
This article appears in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue of Business Franchise Australia & New Zealand
HOW TO SET AND ACHIEVE REALISTIC GOALS TO TAKE YOUR BUSINESS FORWARD.
The problem with goals
As a business coach, one of the hardest things to do is not to get your clients to want something more for their business, but to get them to actually believe that the goals we set might really happen one day.
You see, almost no one has experience with setting goals – fitness goals, diets, New Year’s resolutions – and actually achieving them.
If you’ve never genuinely set out to do something and then done it, believing in yourself can be difficult. But there is hope! Taking stock of what will be reasonable and suitable for you and your business is the secret to experiencing the satisfaction (and rewards) of regularly achieving your goals.
Deciding what you want
If no-one’s ever asked you, it’s quite possible that you have literally no idea of what you want.
The most direct way to set goals for your business that are going to make you work – and make you happy – is to go through some key areas and try to paint a picture of what your ultimate scenario would be.
The exercise: Set aside any disbelief in what you can do. Sleep on the following questions (you, your partner and anyone else important). Answer them as thoroughly as you can, and from your heart by what’s really important to you when all is said and done.
The answers will give you the end point, and from now on all your goals will be steps closer to that.
1. What would make you feel completely secure, that you would never again have to worry about money?
2. What will your ultimate leisure time be like? What will you do, what will you own, where will you go?
3. What will a normal work week look like? What will your job be and what sort of hours will you work?
4. What sort of people will you have in place to do the things you don’t want to?
5. What will your year be like? When will you take breaks and for how long?
6. What will people say about your business? What will its reputation be?
Other goals that might help By way of a starting point, here are some common goals that many business owners end up including in their plan. Feel free to plagiarise at will.
1. Building or buying your own factory/shop
2. Paying off the business loan, tax debt or mortgage, and being debt free
3. Selling the business at a large profit.
4. Retiring with the business still paying you a wage
5. Only being the general manager and checking in on the business from time to time
6. Buying at least one investment property for each child
7. Buying a second franchise, new location etc
8. Taking a holiday every six months, one a year overseas.
You should also look at some specific goals that make your business one of the best in its industry (and a good bet for potential buyers). Your accountant can also help with these as they often have industry standards at hand.
1. Net Profit (generally over 12 per cent for my clients)
2. Stock Margin or Gross Profit percentage
4. Paying good wages.
Breaking it down
Once you have your end goals, the first step is to truly believe they are possible for you. Many people have achieved all you dream of and more - so the only thing stopping you is either a lack of knowledge or a lack of motivation.
Once done, set a time frame on making it happen (3-10 years for big, big ones, depending on how ambitious you are) then break each goal down into what needs to happen in Year 1, 2 etc. Scale the markers as you can reasonably expect that things will get easier as you get more successful! For example, if your goal is to pay off a $600,000 mortgage, you might aim to pay off $75,000 in the first year, then $100k year two, etc. By the by, this is essentially the key aspects for a really good business plan.
Breaking it down further, take all the Year One goals and work out what needs to happen in each quarter to achieve each of them (this part you may need help with, if your knowledge about areas such as marketing, systems, recruitment etc doesn’t give you a clear idea of the best plan). The smaller the chunk, the easier it will be to achieve and the more inspiring it will be to go on.
What is on the plan dictates what you get when you finish it, so spend time and get advice if needed to ensure you are working in the right direction and doing things that will make the biggest and fastest improvement.
We work in quarters of three months each as this is the perfect amount of time to get something worthwhile done without losing momentum. At the end of the quarter, review the plan and strike off or move forward anything not yet done, then regroup and write a new plan with your situation and end goals in mind.
Try to keep your goals clear and your action plans simple, so that you aren’t overwhelmed into inaction.
Take each quarterly list and prioritise your tasks according to:
1. What will make you money
2. What will save you money
3. What will save you time
4. Everything else.
*As a general time management tip, if you are ever overloaded take five minutes to jot down everything on your plate and sort according to the above (rather than trying to get all the easy ones done first which invariably takes up the day).
Knowing your limits
Don’t set yourself up for failure. If you absolutely hate numbers then making doing the books daily a key part of achieving your goals may not be the best idea.
I am always telling people to play to their strengths. Why spend all your time trying to improve your weaknesses when you can gain far more, far more easily by improving on your strengths? You will also enjoy working a lot more which is a big motivator!
Insist that part of your plan is to hire or contract the people to specialise in the areas you don’t love or are no good at. And if keeping focused is a problem for you, as it is for many, build a few fail-safes into your goals plan.
Staying on track
The biggest reason why people don’t achieve their goals is because they don’t have a plan. The second biggest is not following the plan – whether it be due to distraction, lack of motivation, being side swiped by external factors, etc.
An accountability measure therefore needs to be built into every action plan if you hope to achieve your goals. This can be a coach, a mentor, a family member or another business owner, as long as they have the brief of holding you to your plan no matter what. You should review your quarterly plan at least weekly, and provide a status report to your accountability person at least monthly. It is amazing how just by having a quarterly ‘to do list’ for your business and life can make a difference. Working towards something special to you makes business interesting again and shows you that you control the future and what it contains.
Without goals you are simply passing through time with your business and hoping for more, with them you are taking time by the horns and making it work for you and your family.
A former CEO for the Jim’s Group, Katherine has over 18 year’s experience in franchising. She has worked with many brands, been a successful ActionCOACHfranchisee (#14 in the world) and was runner-up Franchise Woman of the Year in 2010.
Graceful Solutions offers marketing coaching to ‘control the tap’ and ensure the phone is always ringing with new business. It is best suited to small businesses and franchisees who need help with the ideas but would be happy to do some of the work themselves or get their team involved, rather than facing a hefty bill to an advertising agency.