Why Have Goals & Not Plan For Them?
Most, if not all corporates and big businesses run on 90 day plans. This is why we always hear comments like “sales were up in Q2 this year” or “compared to last year’s financial report in Q4…” So what’s the point and where’s the value?
Most savvy business leaders understand the value and necessity of strategic thinking and planning. This is something that’s taught when studying business or when you fall into a new job role, but those of us that start a business without that training or experience are missing a trick when it comes to planning. Most of the business owners I talk to either haven’t thought about detailed planning, can’t see the value in it or just can’t spare the time to complete such a task. I suspect that more often than not it boils down to not actually knowing where to start. Staring at a blank page doesn’t help much either!
There are many planning tools and books to help guide us such as Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’ Big Hairy Audacious Goal, this is a blueprint for helping us hone in on an objective, or Michael Porter’s Five Factor Analysis, which offers a model for companies to work out long-term viability by analysing the competitive advantage.
To get in the right frame of mind and to develop a plan with value, you must know where you want to take the business. This is where the vision goals and mission goals help us to eventually obtain good quality 90 day goals that can be planned in more detail. I always keep this process as simple as possible and start with the vision goals looking at what you want to achieve over 3 years. I find an orbit plan template printed on plain paper and coloured pens gets me creative but it’s also ok to list out on a spreadsheet if that works for you.
Year 3 (Vision)
Think about the important stuff here and only write down measurable goals as there’s nothing worse than not knowing when you have made it happen. (KPIs can be put in place later to help gauge and keep on target) This is where I would consider turnover, profit, people, products & services, markets, customers, operational issues and marketing issues as a bare minimum stating where the business is now, in 1 year, 2 years and 3 years for each heading and any other relevant ones.
Year 1 (Mission)
Now start narrowing down and looking at what could be achieved over the next year but not in detail. Keep it brief and to the point. This is often referred to as chart goals. It’s best to concentrate on the important goals here which will become the stepping stones that allow the business to break out of where it’s currently at. This is particularly useful if the business is stuck commonly known as “hit a brick wall”. It’s good to be realistic but I find writing something, even if it feels uncomfortable is better than staring at it. Anything that’s not right will be picked up in the review later.
REVIEW, REVIEW AND REVIEW (Was that loud enough?)
So review what’s been written for the 3 and 1 year goals and make sure it feels right. When we say realistic, don’t make targets so easy that they are obvious wins but at the same time there’s no point overstretching. It’s unhealthy and demoralising if you or your team do not ever reach a goal. However, growth comes from working smarter; investing in the right tools and people (which should be in your plan) to support the business so some stretching is what will give healthy growth.
90 Day Planning – Create a map that will give you clear goals
I use a standard planning template customised to give me what I need. It’s a simple word document easily found if you search the internet. This is where you MUST break down the goals or stepping stones in detail. You need to understand how long it will take, what resources you will need and costs to name but a few. Take the time to plan the journey and stick to it. Time management is key here and I would suggest you read Gary Keller’s book The One Thing, which will help you to understand how to best prioritise. Become more tasks orientated and measure what you do. Ask yourself how well you do it and are you the right person to be doing it. By following this simple planning method, you will start thinking further ahead. What have you got planned for Q4?
Summary (Albeit a strange one)
If I gave you a £20 note and said pop into town and get a cab, what’s the driver likely to say when you get in the back? I’m guessing, where would you like to go? If you didn’t know and decided to tell the driver “just take me anywhere”, where might you end up? Maybe a trip around the block and back to where you started (standing still) or dropped off at a dark and dangerous alley where you wouldn’t want to be (lost). When I give this example to business owners, I have never had anyone say they got a cab without planning their journey first. They always had a reason to take a cab and didn’t want to waste £20 not knowing where they were going. It wasn’t even their £20 in the first place but none were willing to waste it. Yet I constantly see business owners not planning their business journey whilst investing thousands of pounds into it. To me, that’s far worse than asking a cab driver to take you anywhere. Remember, you are the cab driver for your business so design its journey by having short term goals that will take you to your final destination safely, quickly, with fun and success!
Robert Bowles is the Senior Operations Manager and a Business Growth Manager (BGM) for the Building Legacies programme. Robert specialises in – Business Planning, Mentoring and Business Growth.