Archive for Business Planning

Time to Check in on Your Annual Goals and Objectives

We’re past the calendar’s mid-year point & it’s time to take stock of how well your business plan is working out. Having a plan is great, but it isn’t enough.

Business isn’t static, so planning can’t be static either. Annual business plans need to be “living documents” that create a framework for decision-making during the year to keep you on track, but they need to be flexible as well.

By setting out Goals and Objectives at the beginning of the year, you give yourself a road-map to build your business and financial well being.

Reviewing it will keep you on track to successfully doing so. Periodic plan reviews allow you to take time to think about the state of your business is right now, assess what’s been accomplished this year, identify what remains to be done and to refine your plan if needed:

  • If fundamentals have changed, you can adjust the plan where needed.
  • If you’re simply missing your targets, now is the time to redouble your efforts.
  • If something has really thrown a wrench into your plans, you may need a reality check about what is actually achievable by year end and adjust accordingly.

Time Waits for No One

I’m paraphrasing an ancient maxim, but it’s true. Time does fly when you’re as busy as we all are with both business and life.

Entrepreneurs with seven day work weeks can lose track of how much of the year is already gone. And before you know it, it’ll be time to start doing year end tax planning and thinking about next year’s Goals and Objectives.

One of the reasons I recommend using a SMART Goal process is that you will have actual benchmarks & deadlines to use when assessing your progress. If your goals and objectives are specific, there won’t be anything subjective in your assessment of whether or not you’ve achieved them. And you won’t have much wiggle room for excuses.

Put Business Plan Review Dates on Your Calendar

Small business owners don’t have a boss looking over our shoulder or holding us to deadlines, so we need to make sure to do it for ourselves. And since successfully achieving your Goals & Objectives includes bench-marking how you are doing along the way, block time for these plan checkups on your calendar.

A quarterly review of your overall progress is a good habit to make, but at a minimum evaluate your progress at the six month point.

Financial goals & objectives should always be reviewed monthly and missed targets should be analyzed closely to determine what went wrong.

If you’re on track, great. Pat yourself on the back & keep moving forward.

If you’re off track, this is your opportunity to take a close look at why & re-adjust the plan where necessary so you can to continue moving toward meeting your yearly goals.

Be Honest in Your Self Evaluation Process

Successfully achieving your Goals & Objectives includes honestly reviewing how well you are doing. This isn’t a time for making up excuses or assigning blame for missed targets. Use the time to understand what is going right with your business, and what isn’t. Clear analysis will help you build your business, excuses won’t.

It’s Easy to Go Off Track

Small business owners wear multiple hats & some days it can feel like we spend more time putting out fires than moving forward. That’s why specific deliverables and timelines can make a huge difference in your success.

When evaluating your year to date results, ask yourself some of these basic questions:

  • Are your financial projections on track? If not, why not?
  • Are your main assumptions proving to be true? If not, how could you have avoided that?
  • Have you gotten side-tracked by other priorities or problems during the year?
    • How did that impact your progress?
  • What do you need right now to get back on track to meet your annual Goals?
  • Can you reasonably still reach your goals or is it time to adapt them to current reality for the remainder of the year?
  • What played out differently, positively or negatively, than you projected?
  • Were you effective at meeting your objectives in a timely manner?
    • If not, why not?
    • How could you have done better?
  • If there were unanticipated challenges, did you have the resources to meet them?

Take Action Now to Achieve Results

If you haven’t checked in on your progress lately, find time to do it this week.

Refocusing on your goals will move your business forward.  It is well worth the time and effort.


New Year’s Resolutions – waste of time or worth the effort?

As we head into the second half of January, how is it going with your New Year’s resolutions so far?

Are you meeting all your lofty intentions or have a few of them already fallen by the wayside?

If it’s the latter, you’re not alone.

We’re a nation geared toward self-improvement, but changing habits is hard work & resolutions are usually about big changes – lose weight, quit smoking, stick to a budget, save money, get a new job, maybe even start a business.

Statistically, about 30% of people who make resolutions fail to keep them through the first week of the New Year and around 80% fail to achieve them by the end of the year. Not such good stats.

Setting Business Goals vs. Making Resolutions

As both a small business owner & a business coach for entrepreneurs, I know that those stats would spell disaster if applied to meeting business goals. Missing your goals just doesn’t work if you want your business to succeed. Sooner or later it spells business failure instead.

As entrepreneurs, we set our own goals and are responsible for meeting them without anyone else pushing us to do so. That takes discipline and self-motivation both of which are key traits of successful entrepreneurs.

Why Do Goals Matter?

A common trait of high performing small business owners is that they set clear business goals and meet them consistently. Goals help us to move our businesses forward and to periodically assess whether we’re on track to build the business we envision.

They also give us useful guidance when we’re making daily decisions.

There are so many business challenges entrepreneurs deal with daily – operational challenges, vetting new opportunities, managing financial pressures, employee retention – that having clear goals as guideposts keeps us focused on what’s important for building our business’ success. They also help with us to keep focused on our most important tasks and help us to avoid business distractions.

Establishing timelines and breaking Goals down into measurable objectives helps to define projects, strategy and operational targets. When it comes to goal setting, I’m a true believer in the concept of SMART Goals:

S – Specific
A Attainable
R Realistic

Goal setting is both “art and science” in my experience. Look for my future blogs with tips on effective goal setting techniques as this skill is critical for achieving business success.