We’re scarily almost half-way through 2017. How’s it going so far? Did you set a Strategic Destination and then work backwards, breaking the journey down to that destination into manageable milestones?
If you didn’t then your answer is, “I don’t know” and that’s the worst answer you can have. Let’s talk about that later.
Assuming you did set a Strategic Destination and milestones then, even if your destination is beyond this year, it’s likely you’ll have a major milestone set around this time of year because it’s the annual half-way point. It’s a cycle thing – basically everything works in cycles, from revolving galaxies to our seasons. Our main cycle is the calendar year and the half-way mark is a natural milestone to set.
So, are you on course? Let’s look at your 3 possible answers…
Yes, I’m on Course
Excellent! But hang-on a sec. How do you know? “Well, because I’ve hit my expected revenue target.” That of course is great and is a key milestone. But it really answers the question, “Have you achieved your half-year revenue target?”
But that isn’t the same thing and doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on course.
Did you achieve your target by following a clear strategy that culminates in reaching your Strategic Destination or was your achievement reached with the help of one or two unexpected decent opportunities.
In case you’re thinking, “So what?” This is important.
If you reached your revenue targets with unexpected opportunities then part of your success is down to luck rather than some well-thought through strategy that will keep you moving forward to your destination.
And the problem with that is that you cannot rely on luck nor build a strong sustainable business on it. In this case I don’t want to burst your bubble but simply ask that you look at how you reached your targets and where you would be without these unexpected opportunities.
At the heart of a strong, healthy business is a clear strategy that details how the business is going to reach its milestones and get to the next level. If you take out the unexpected opportunities, where then would your business be against your strategy?
You certainly wouldn’t be on course and that’s what you need to look at.
Of course, if you did successfully implement that strategy and managed to service one or two unexpected opportunities then you’ll actually be ahead of where you intended to be target-wise and on course strategy-wise. Brilliant! Treat those opportunities as bonuses and keep to the strategy.
So the answer to the question isn’t as straightforward as it first appears. You could argue that you’re on course because you’ve hit your half-year revenue target but if you don’t know how you got there – if you don’t why you’re on course then it could simply be down to luck, which could run out at any time.
So, even if you’re on target financially, make sure that you have other important metrics that you are measuring and hitting.
No, I’m Not on Course
This answer isn’t as bad as it may at first appear because at least you know!
Knowing that you’re not on course (as opposed to on target) implies that you did create a course (a strategy) for your business in the first place.
You have the visibility to know where you actually are and what you need to do to get back on course. If getting back on course, if achieving the milestones you originally set out, is no longer realistic then don’t waste time staying on that course and hoping that, with luck, you will get back on it
Revise your strategy, and set a new course based on what you’ve realistically been able to achieve so far and what you need to do in order to meet your revised revenue targets.
I Don’t Know if I’m on Course
Not knowing if you’re on course or not is worse than knowing that you’re not on course.
Even if your business is actually on course – not knowing or not knowing why it is, basically means you are blind and your business is only on course out of sheer luck.
At some point that luck will run out. But because you’re blind to the progress your business is making and the path that it’s on, you may not know that things have gone wrong until it’s too late.
Of course, saying ‘don’t know” could imply that there was no course in the first place – that there was no strategy to get the business from where it was at the start of the year to where you want it to be at the end of the year. That truly is the worst-case scenario.
Knowing whether your business is on course or not – having this visibility – is a strength that all businesses need. Remember, even if its not on course, at least this visibility means you know why and can therefore do something about it.
So, I ask again. Are you on course?
If you need help to set the right course and to stay on it then check out my new course, Small Business Strategy for Success. In it I take you, step-by-step through how to set the right course for your business and successfully implement it. The return to you will far exceed your investment in it.
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Every day thousands of new businesses are formed. New entrepreneurs make that massive leap to starting their own business with feelings of excitement and trepidation as they take that first step in a long, difficult but highly rewarding journey.
Everyday a similar number of businesses close, the majority having struggled for a while and finally called it a day. Their owners doing so with feelings of despair and dread as to their future and that of their families.
The deeply sad thing about many of their businesses is that they needn’t have struggled and failed. Here’s why.
If, as a small business owner, you haven’t planned how you will manage the growth of your business, then all that will happen is that you will work longer hours, weekends and increase your stress levels. If you’re going to do this then you might be the owner of a business but really you may as well have a job.
You see, the reason I say “you may as well have a job” is because that’s essentially what you’ve got and you are not reaping the rewards of owning a business. To add insult to injury, especially if your business is still young, you’re probably working harder for less money – you’ve gone from a better-paid job to a worst paid job.
If this is the case then here’s what you need to do.