Business goal success

Running a business is hard work.  It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with a clean sheet, are struggling to gain traction or you’ve cracked it and have a thriving business – you can’t afford to pin your hopes on ‘luck’.

If I could only recommend one book to read to anyone starting or running a small business it would be Michael Gerber’s The EMyth Revisited.  It’s full of excellent and straightforward advice and good common sense.

When you’re enmeshed in the day-to-day running of a business, it’s easy to forget to look at the big picture and your goals and aspirations for your business frequently get lost.

All the management gurus will tell you to have a vision of where you want to be in one year, three years, five years, ten years, etc.  If you’ve been on a business course you’ve probably done some rough ideas of what those visions look like, but it’s hard to look into the future and see things clearly when you are doing an exercise for 20 minutes.  I’m going to suggest something a bit more practical.

Take some time away from work and spend some of it dreaming and the rest turning those dreams into a plan.

Why do you need to be away from work?  Two reasons – firstly, you don’t want to be interrupted and secondly, you need to get into a different head space.  It’s difficult to dream when you can see an overflowing inbox.

Your dream will start by looking at what you’d like your life to be like this time next year.  What will need to happen in your business to allow you to have that?  This might sound very personal, but if it’s your business your personal goals matter as much as the business goals.

Write down what you want to be, do and have.  This goals strategy might be a useful tool.

Then repeat this for a time further into the future – three or five years.

What is your end goal for your business?  Do you intend to keep it until you retire?  Then what?  Will you close it or sell it or put in a manager and keep it?  Let your imagination fill in all the details until it feels real.

If you intend to grow it to sell or to float on the stock market, what is your target date for that?  Let yourself dream about what that will be like.

With these visions clear, it will be much easier to work out how you achieved these outcomes.

Block out at least half a day every three months

Treat this as though you’ve made a commitment to your most important client – because you have – yourself!

Put it in your diary and don’t accept any appointments for that time.

Choose your location carefully

You might have an office environment that allows you to go somewhere and be undisturbed, but if not go somewhere else.  I know people who go somewhere rural and gaze at the landscape or simply walk and others who take themselves to a corner of their favourite coffee shop.  You might have a local library or a hotel where you can tuck yourself into a corner – or you may simply stay at home if everyone else is out at work or school.  I know people who literally go away and stay in a hotel for a day or two to work on their business goals.

Equip yourself before you settle in

For the dreaming part you won’t need much except your imagination – and maybe your favourite tea or coffee.

For the planning part you’ll need either a laptop or lots of scrap paper and coloured markers.

For each big goal, create a to do list with actions, responsibilities and deadlines.  You’re building your business’s operating plan for the future.

Why do this every three months?

Every plan needs to be reviewed.  Circumstances change and people come and go.  Opportunities arise you hadn’t foreseen, legislation changes and the world evolves.  You need to ensure your goals are still going where you want them to.

You change too – your aspirations for the future may need to be reassessed and accommodated.