Getting your business off the ground requires a great deal of planning. You cannot reach your destination without the roads you will take being well mapped out. This is the same with your business.
In order to know where you would like your business to go, you will not only need to know what you want to achieve, but also what steps will be necessary to get there. In this case, you are wise to use the SMART goal setting system. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.
Let’s take a look at these 5 steps for business planning success:
- Be Specific: When you are setting your goals, you need to be as specific as possible in order to really plan them out effectively. Avoid using broad or generics when setting your objectives. For example, if your goal is to generate more sales, put a number to it. This gives you a much better target to hit. If it is 10% more sales, then calculate exactly how many dollars that represents.
- You Have To Be Able To Measure It. Setting an objective for your business is no good if you cannot monitor your progress to see if you are on target. Using the example above of increased sales, you can easily measure month-to month if you are meeting your goals or if you need to ramp it up a bit in order to meet your objective.
- Can You Achieve Your Goal? Being hopeful is all well and good, but having unrealistic goals is just being a dreamer. If you have a big plan, break it down into smaller, attainable increments. You will still get there in time, but you will not feel overwhelmed in the meantime. Your goals need to be realistic, setting the bar too high is setting yourself up for failure. Setting the bar too low and you will not reach your full potential. Finding the right balance can be difficult, but not impossible. Start small and work hard to meet your self-demands. If you find you reach them easily, then set the bar a little higher the next time.
- Make it Relevant to Each Person Involved. Communicating the objective to the various people who will be involved with implementing the action should be specific to their role within your business. Telling your staff that the company’s goal is a 10% increase in sales will mean absolutely nothing to them. Telling your sales staff that they each need to sell 2 more units per month or your production manager that they need to produce an additional 100 units each month is relevant and understandable and measurable to them. It gives everyone concrete objectives that they will have to put in place in order for you to attain the desired outcome.
- Set a Time-line. One of the surest ways to fail is to leave an open-ended time to achieve your goals. You have a tendency to want to do this because you are not accountable if you have all the time in the world to meet a goal. Set a date for the completion of your objective. This ties into the measurability of the goal. It also makes you work harder to achieve it if you know you only have a specific amount of time to do it in. Another reason you might be tempted to not set a deadline is if you believe your goal is unattainable. If you can’t bring yourself to set a date for completion, then perhaps you need to revisit the steps above and set more realistic objectives.
By having to set a deadline for completion, you can sit down on that date and review whether to objective was met or if you missed the mark. If it was met, then pat yourself on the back for a job well done and start the process over again with your next set of SMART goals.
If, however, you did not meet your objectives, this gives you time to reflect on where you went wrong in the planning process. Did you set your goals too high? What happened during the process that made it unattainable? Is there something you could have done differently?
It is only through this process of reviewing the outcome at the deadline that you can improve your business and push it to the next level. Without this analysis and review, your business will continue to operate without direction.
This whole process of setting business goals is the only smart way to push your business beyond what it is today. Making sure you set objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely will keep you focused on success.