As the year ends, many companies begin the new year with a focus on business planning. One of the most important tools in business planning is formulating written goals. A Harvard Business School study found that only 3% of all business owners write goals for the upcoming year. The study also found that the 3% with written goals earned up to 10 times as much as the 97% who did not articulate their goals and plans. This study makes it clear that setting and writing goals and plans for your business for the new year can result in increased earnings and more customers.
Excuses for Not Setting Goals
Excuses for not identifying business goals as part of business planning are endless. Some of the most common excuses are that the process is difficult, goal setting takes too much time, written goals are difficult to finish, it is easy to put them aside, and that goals don’t address the actual needs of the business. Every one of these excuses, however, has a solution. Goal setting does not have to be difficult as long as you keep the process simple. One way to do that is to set goals in a series of brief sessions, which also solves the “time-consuming” excuse. At each mini session, require that at least one goal be completed so that they are not unfinished or put aside. Good business planning also requires that the goals be written to specifically address the needs of your business; many analysts recommend including all aspects of the business when setting goals.
The Nuts and Bolts
The biggest problem with incorporating written goals into the business planning process is that too many business owners do not know how to go about creating them. There are four steps to creating useful and manageable goals and plans for the upcoming year:
1. Write down exactly what is your vision for your business in the upcoming year. Include as many aspects of your business as possible, including marketing, accounting, office standards, and other business functions, as well as personal factors that can affect your business operations.
2. Write down what you want to achieve within each business and personal category. Be sure to consider marketing, finances, equipment needs, competitors and other factors that may affect you both personally and professionally.
3. Break each goal down into smaller goals. Set daily, weekly and monthly benchmarks and be sure that all small goals are attainable.
4. Develop a specific action plan. One way to make goals more attainable is by developing a specific timeline to focus on your highest priorities. Selecting a set time and day each week to focus on one main priority will eventually help you form a habit and provide increased consistency. Creating a habit makes it more likely that you will achieve your goals.
Successful business planning requires more than just writing down goals and setting a schedule. The key is to get the plan started and then keep improving on the plan throughout the year. After you create a plan, spend 30 to 60 minutes each week dedicating yourself to the process of reviewing and adjusting the goals as necessary.
Since setting goals has been shown to increase profitability and build business, one of the most important things to do for 2012 business planning should be goal setting. To find bankers equally committed to your success and who are prepared with business banking solutions that can support your business plan and the growth needs of your company, visit www.independent-bank.com.