This is the most powerful thing you can do for your business this week or next. A simple 1-2 page plan to cover your goals for the next 52 weeks is the best way to generate massive results this year and every year. And, yes, a useful, simple plan can be put together in under 60 minutes… While munching on cookies if you’re so inclined.
- Write down your personal goals. Your business is a means to an end. If it’s not providing what you need personally then what’s the point? This goes for you whether you are an owner or team member. If your boss doesn’t understand your personal goals or you are the leader and you don’t understand the personal goals of your team members, you’ll never attain full engagement. These goals may be, “work only 40 hours per week“, “take off early in the fall to coach my son’s soccer team“, “take an extra week of vacation this year with my family“, “donate an extra $5,000 to charities this year.” Whatever your personal goals are, write them out.
- Write down your business goals. Now that you have your personal goals outlined, your business goals for 2012 need to be in-line with your personal goals. If they’re disconnected you won’t be nearly as motivated. Based on the examples above, if your goal is to only work 40 hours per week and you currently average 50 hours per week, your business goal becomes, “outsource, delegate, or kill 10 hours of work per week“. If your goal is tied to increased profits, such as having more money to donate to charity, then you need to figure out exactly what you will need to add to the bottom line and then work backwards from there. For instance, if you want to have an additional $5,000 for charity that would be $1250/quarter. If you convert half of your leads to sales, have an average dollar sale of $2,000, a net margin of 10%, and you average 45 sales per quarter, that means you need an additional 12.5 leads per quarter OR to increase your average sale to $2278 OR increase your margin to 11.4%. Do any one of those 3 things and you’ll have your extra $5,000 per year for charity. Better yet, target a smaller improvement in each one.
- Brainstorm ways to achieve your goals. Now that you have concrete personal and business goals, sit down and write out everything that comes to mind that might help you reach those goals. In most instances we know that we’re wasting 10 hours per week doing low-level work that someone else can do if we just provide them with a bit of training and a procedure or checklist. Or we know that to get a few extra leads we can develop our referral program or by focusing less on website traffic and more on website conversion. Whatever the ideas, just write them all out. Don’t cross anything off or ignore it at this point. Just get it on paper or into a document.
- Put each brainstorm item into the Business Triangle. To help us organize the ideas and start putting together a plan for how we’ll achieve each one and who on your team can help you, categorize each idea into one of the categories from the business triangle: Sales/Marketing, Service/Operation, Finance/Administration. If the idea doesn’t fit succinctly into one of those areas it probably fits into all 3. For instance if you need to improve your pay structure, performance reviews, or buy a faster server, any of those things will help all 3 areas of the triangle. For those items, I put them under the Multipliers/Leverage category since they can multiply or leverage your entire business.
- Prioritize each item according to the 80/20 rule. Now go back through your list that’s currently broken into those 4 categories and put the items that are most beneficial in each category at the top of the list and least beneficial at the bottom. Take into account how long each item will take. For instance if the one that will be most beneficial will take you 20 hours and require the help of 3 other team members but there are 4 others that can be accomplished with 2 hours of work each, you are probably better off accomplishing the 4 smaller tasks, enjoying the benefits of those, and getting a few wins under your belt to feel confident tackling the bigger project.
In 60 minutes, that’s about all you can accomplish. From here, the next part is actually the toughest. You need to break down the To-Do list into weekly, digestible action items. Whether those items are for you or for someone else they need to be in bite-size chunks so you can feel confident in tackling 1 each week.
This is where an experienced business coach, consultant, or small business engineer can be immensely powerful. Not only can he help you determine exactly where to improve your business to achieve your goals, he can provide resources and weekly actionable items to keep you on track. He’ll save you enough time and money along the way that his service should pay for itself.
As a matter of fact, I’ve developed a Leadership Action Checklist that includes over 50 actionable improvements I’ve seen small businesses make to improve their bottom line and rely less on the owner. That list alone would almost entirely cut out steps 3 and 4 above.
Here are a few more tips on writing out your goals…
When writing goals, they need to be specific, actionable, and time-constrained. For instance, here are a few examples of poorly written goals:
- Make more money
- Spend more time with my family
- Take more vacation
Here are examples of how to make those goals more powerful:
- Be able to increase my salary by $50/week by the second quarter of 2012
- Attend 90% of my daughter’s cross-country meets (which require me to leave the office by 2:30 12 times in the fall)
- Take 4 Fridays off this summer to take weekend trips with my family to A, B, C, and D and 1 Friday off in the spring for a trip with just my wife to E
The difference between the powerful goals and the “generic” ones is immense. Your mind can picture the second set of examples very clearly and it puts PRESSURE on you to get it done. The first set of goals can easily be pushed off or even “checked off” after achieving a fraction of what you originally intended by that goal.
To make the goals even more pressing, share them with your business partner, spouse, or business coach.
To your personal and business success in 2012, Bryan
P.S. I’m working from home this week surrounded by Christmas cookies so, though I intend to do my 2012 business plan while munching on cookies, and I highly recommend it, it’s not required.