Most small business owners complain about:
- working longer hours than they ever imagined
- not being able to consistently reach their goals, and
- constantly worrying where the next money and clients will come from.
This slowly kills the passion they have for their business and leave them doubting their ability to succeed in creating a lifestyle business. A main reason for this is…
… the GAP between PLANNING our business goals and strategy, and what we DO on a daily basis.
Recent studies in corporate companies have shown that up to two-thirds of decisions made in annual strategy sessions are never implemented! In my experience, the stats would be very similar for small businesses.
You see it’s easy to sit in a planning session (even only with yourself) and decide on the annual business goals to pursue but it’s 10X harder to execute on those business goals when you’re in the thick of things and:
- taking customer calls
- preparing quotes
- answering emails
- doing marketing
- managing a team and many other things on a daily basis.
We get distracted by every squeaky wheel in our business, instead of sticking to our plan.
So our biggest struggle is to link our yearly business goals and plans to what we do day-by-day and hour-by-hour in our business. Here are 3 easy steps to turn your business goals into successful completions.
“Vision leads to proper planning and proper planning leads to successful completion.”
~ FARSHAD ASL (The ‘No Excuses’ Mindset Book)
3 Easy Steps To Plan Your Business Goals
There is a difference between being effective and being efficient. When it comes to executing our plan we want to make sure that we’re as effective as possible.
This means being laser-focused on working on the right things in our business that will move us forward and make the biggest impact.
It’s crucial to know what success looks like for you. Effective business owners know what they want to achieve and then set business goals that will help them achieve their vision while taking the daily action to get there.
Let’s say you want to lose weight and you’re not clear on what you want to achieve… you could lose one kilogram and be successful because you lost weight or you could lose 10 kg and fail if you wanted to lose 20 kg.
It’s the same for your business goals e.g. let’s say you want to make an extra $50K this year, there are many ways to reach that goal.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
1. Identify the 1-2 high-impact activities that bring in the most money in your business and that will get you to $50K the quickest
2. Commit to doubling or tripling the amount of time you spend on these 1-2 activities every week
3. Schedule non-negotiable blocks of time in your diary to work on these activities every day.
EXAMPLE: PRODUCT LAUNCH
One of Your Annual Business Goals:
Generate an extra $50K from an existing product/ service this year to a new client base.
Quarterly Business Goals:
You identified one of your high-impact activities as a very profitable and time-efficient online program or physical product or service, and you decide to launch it in 3 months’ time. You estimate you can make an additional $20K from this activity this quarter.
Example Main Activities: (not a comprehensive list)
// Research the new market to determine viability
// Adjust your marketing material to suit the market
// Create a marketing plan
// Market the product
// Launch the product
Estimate the amount of time needed to complete each activity and the people needed to complete the activities. Work it into the planning and set milestones to track progress along the way.
Use a software like Trello, Asana or any other project management and workflow software to lay out your project and assign activities to team members.
Example Tasks: (not a comprehensive list)
// Create a survey for the new market, send out the survey + analyse the results
// Update website e.g. create a new landing page + shopping cart item
// Plan out social media posts, etc. etc.
Allocate time every day to work on the most important activities to move the project forward and work towards the set milestones. Schedule weekly progress check-ins with yourself + your team.
There are many moving parts (activities + sub tasks) that need to be completed to achieve this quarterly goal.
That’s why it’s crucial to stay focused every day and to say No to any other distractions that come your way.
Once you’re clear on your business goals and identified the 1-2 high-impact activities that will help you reach that goals, it’s time commit to doing these activities ‘no matter what’.
We’re all busy and life throws us curve balls all the time but unless we see these activities as non-negotiable, I can guarantee you that something else will come up to throw you off course, within a week if not days.
And that’s a hallmark of successful and effective people – their ability to be clear about their goals and their unwavering commitment to making it happen ‘no matter what’.
Let’s go back to our weight loss example:
Would you be more motivated to lose weight in situation A or B?
A. It would be nice to lose a few kilograms before I going to that wedding next month, or
B. The doctor just told you that unless you lose weight immediately you only have 6 months to live…
Of course your motivation will be higher in situation B, because your life literally depends on it.
And you’ll make time to exercise and eat healthy every day instead of making excuses like, “I didn’t have time today, I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Unfortunately we don’t always experience this drastic urgency in our business…
That’s why it’s sometimes harder for business owners to move from making-a-living into a full lifestyle business.
Because as humans, unless we face a crisis, it can be a real challenge for us to only focus on the important activities while saying No to any other distractions that won’t help us to achieve our goals.
The only way you can ensure it will happen is by planning your weeks and scheduling it in your diary.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
1. Be clear about what needs to get done this week to reach your quarterly business goals e.g. research the new market to determine viability
2. Open your diary and schedule blocks of 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time every day of the next week to work on these activities e.g.
// create survey questions for the new market (1hr) – Me
// create the actual survey in Typeform or SurveyMonkey (30min) – John
// send out the survey (1hr) – John
>>> who will it be sent to?
>>> do you need to create a list of contacts?
>>> will you use ads to promote the survey?
>>> how + when will it be send?
// analyse the results (2hrs) – Me
3. Estimate the time each activity will take you to complete. This is a great exercise, as we tend to underestimate how long things take us to do (see example in #2)
4. Note the people needed to help you complete the tasks and remember to give them access to the project plans and calendars (see example in #2)
5. Outline your success factors – how will you know if you’ve been successful by the end of the week? e.g.
// Week 1: survey has been created, tested and it’s ready to be send out
// Week 2: 50 people completed the survey successfully
// Week 3: all results have been analysed and a decision to either market the product to a new market or not, is made.
To act daily on what’s already been decided and planned for, is really the hardest part of everything.
It’s because it’s so easy to be distracted by a hundred little things every day. Studies have shown that on average, we’re interrupted every 3 minutes in the office!
Between notifications pinging, emails coming in, a team member asking for help, phone calls and social media it’s no wonder that we’re busy all day without much to show for it by the end of a day.
My clients who started planning their weeks, reported feeling much more in control and more organised, but nearly all of them struggled for the first couple of weeks to stick to their blocks of uninterrupted time because of all the distractions.
“Planning is easy. Execution is hard.”
~ ALICIA MENKVELD
It takes courage and perseverance to stick to your plan every day.
Most of my clients reviewed and tweaked their plans several times before they found a routine that worked for them. Some started their day with a block of uninterrupted time, while others did a block between 11am-2pm or even later afternoon.
Your success in reaching your business goals depends on your ability to constantly review what worked and what hasn’t, and to be able to change direction quickly and daily if needed.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
At the end of each day take 5 min to review your day and ask yourself and/or your team:
1. How well did I stick to my plan today?
2. Which distractions kept me from working during my uninterrupted block(s) of time?
3. How can I minimise these distractions tomorrow?
4. How long did the actual tasks take vs. my estimations in the planning?
5. Did everyone involved in the activities performed up to standard? If not, what I can do to improve this?
6. Compared to the success factors for this activity, was I successful today?
Reviewing and tweaking as you move towards your business goals, is like a heat-seeking missile adjusting course while trying to lock in on its target.
The missile doesn’t stop trying until it found its target… and neither should you. Continue to review and tweak until you find a way that works well for you and your team.
Which part of sticking to your daily plan do you find most challenging? Leave your comment below.