Do you set targets for your business each year?
Targets and goals give us direction and focus. They allow a team to understand the priorities of the business as well as the needs of the leadership team. Do you have a solid plan of attack for growing your business?
Setting targets doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need some planning and structure to make them achievable. Business development is having the vision and drive to reach a common goal and the best leaders know what they want and how they want to get there. Let’s explore this further.
Where are you now?
A very important part of looking to the future is knowing where you are up to right now. When you set up your business you would have had some plan of what you wanted to achieve. Decisions have been made on the basis of this plan.
How do you report on your progress? Look at any data you have that will tell you where you are up to now. If you can’t work out what you are measuring, then this needs to be addressed as you need to know how to demonstrate progress. ClearPoint Strategy provides some good tips on how to set better goals addressing financial questions, the market and your own business needs.
Goals and targets must be measured
Have you heard of SMART objectives? Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound? Although a little cheesy these are a great way of providing structure to give your plans a fighting chance.
Goals can help a business be bold and daring. They can really drive and challenge you and your team. A goal can be as lofty and ambitious as you want, but it does need to have some structure otherwise it’s just a wish.
What happens if you don’t achieve the targets you set? You have a point of reference which you can evaluate progress. For example, if you set a goal that is to develop 5 new products within 6 months and you only develop 1, you still have a measure for that goal. Why didn’t you develop the other 4 products? Was it better to focus on one rather than managing multiple? The next goal you set should reflect this information as you realised that 5 was not an achievable goal, but perhaps you may set your next goal to be develop 3 new products within 12 months now you have a starting point.
Targets should motivate and inspire, so although you could set a very challenging plan, remember to be realistic about it. Using the example above (and more here from Lifehack.org), if you create a plan that expects people to work ridiculous hours in order to achieve the goal, chances are you’re setting yourself up for failure at the outset.
Where are you going?
Go back to the mission and vision of your business. What did you set out to do? Are you still on track or did you change your strategy? Generally, your mission and vision will not change – they are dreams with which guide you on your journey. Your goals, however, give you the strategic direction and these will change.
If you work in time-sensitive markets, you know that you are going to be bound by deadlines. Your strategy will be based on criteria that need to reflect current indicators of your life and business helping you to make informed decisions – 2020 really showed us that businesses need to be able to adapt or they may not exist.
Make sure you support your targets
What’s the point of setting goals if you don’t then focus on them? You are the ambassador for your targets so make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve, as well as encourage others to work towards them. If you’re the only one in your team that believes in what you’re trying to do then you’re not going to get very far.
Make sure you write them down. Many NGOs will publish their targets on a website or in a book that’s shared with all the team, stakeholders, anyone who will support them. Private businesses probably won’t do that, but they will share them internally and promote the direction of the business. Both are absolutely right in their actions, but the priority is most likely quite different. What is in your business’s best interests? Keep that in the back of your mind when you are developing and sharing your goals.
Assess your targets regularly
If you have followed the point above about making objectives SMART, then you will have some powerful goals to work with that align with your business’s mission and vision. You will have set deliverables and have a plan.
You now need to keep an eye on your targets and monitor them. Don’t over-complicate it – if you have a financial goal with a couple of indicators and you achieve the goal much faster than expected then brilliant! How far can you exceed your target within the timeline you’ve set?
Social media has become a powerful player for businesses to measure expectations, but it’s not the be all and end all. Unless your business lives and dies on the impact of social media, it can’t be your only focus. Think of how your clients find you – your website will probably be a main place for people to learn more about your business. Therefore, you need to measure the impact of your website.
Do you need to make a minimum amount of money each year to be financially viable? Then set a financial target that gives you a good profit margin. You will be aiming to grow by a certain percentage each year so a financial target will give you a good indicator.
Pay attention to what targets are off track. Those will need attention and adjustment if they are to succeed. If the target is not on track because it doesn’t have enough resources or attention, then that needs to be addressed. If you need 4 people to make the target achievable and only have 2 people, then realistically that target will take longer, or need more investment to deliver.
Your goals do not need to run January to December or be the same as others. Forbes provides steps to assessing your goals halfway through the year. They can be as short or as long as you need them to be. Each target needs an end date in order to then be able to measure whether it was achieved, so you can evaluate and plan better for the future.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Businesses do not run on one person alone. It takes a team to make a business a success and you can and should ask for help to set your targets. Goals are often not easy to explain, and you need to be able to articulate them in order to achieve them. Start with a list of things you want to achieve, then work on refining and explaining them until you have something clear and succinct.
There are many coaches and consultants who specialise in assisting businesses in setting goals and giving structure to ideas. Their job is to help you to succeed and will help you to take your list and bring it to life with structure and order.
How many unicorn businesses do you know that did it alone? We don’t know of any that have said in interviews and articles that they did it alone. Maybe one of your goals could be to get help to define and give structure to your business. We did this with Blue Ninja during 2020 and continue to discuss and refine what our goals are.
Setting targets is an important part of any business strategy and they should be SMART, you support your targets and they are assessed regularly. By keeping your goals in mind and firmly in sight you’ll be in a great position to keep moving forward and growing your business.