Don’t you just love that moment of finishing a business plan? In that moment of clarity, with the steps leading towards your goals clearly laid out, you feel energised and completely focused on what you need to achieve. But what then? Do you always follow through?
Even with the best of business plans, life can often get in the way of achieving our goals. It throws you a few curve balls or you get busy on a different project and before you know it you’re far away from the original plan and not quite sure how to get back on track.
So how can you stop this happening? Here are four tips for achieving your business goals.
You know those New Year’s resolutions that involve going to the gym six times a week when the closest you’ve been to a gym in the last year is to pick up the free paper on the driveway? They rarely work, because they’re not realistic.
When it comes to making business goals, you need to be honest with yourself: even with the right support and resources, is your goal achievable? What resources do you have? What resources do you need?
This doesn’t mean you should aim low, but goals that are unrealistically high will discourage you and put you at risk of giving up even before getting started. Continue to aim high but maybe it’s more realistic to get there in 12 months rather than six, or two years rather than one.
Break it down
It’s important to know not only where you want to go but also how you’re going to get there. Say you have a revenue goal of 15 per cent for the next financial year. How are you going to achieve that? Do you need new customers? Does it mean raising prices?
Setting smaller deadlines for yourself helps to make the ultimate goal more achievable. Don’t leave it until you’re nine months into the year to realise there’s no way you’ll make up lost ground in the final quarter. Know where you need to be at the end of each month or quarter so that you can adjust your activities, tweak your plan and go hard if you need to catch up.
Keep yourself honest
I’ve always found the best way to make goals real and ensure I stick with them is to talk about them. Once you’ve shared your goals you can’t hide from them. Pick someone with whom you can talk about your goals and progress. It might be a trusted friend, business advisor or mentor. But choose your confidant carefully: it should be someone who is encouraging and with whom there is mutual respect.
Another way of keeping yourself honest is to keep your plan visible. A plan in the drawer in your office doesn’t leave you any closer to your goals. Keep key goals where you can see them, whether that’s up on the noticeboard in your office or on the kitchen fridge door.
Last but definitely not least, make sure you celebrate the wins along the way. Pick a reward for yourself as you start hitting your milestones and it will encourage you to keep going. You need some carrot with your stick.
So how do you best keep yourself on track for achieving your goals?
“ I’ve always found the best way to make goals real and ensure I stick with them is to talk about them. ”