December is here … already… and we have three weeks or around 15 working days remaining before we break up for the festive season. What you do now is going to have little impact on the year that’s been but can still have a major impact on the year ahead.
To prepare for the year ahead you first need to decide where your business will be in December 2016. You need to set some goals, some targets to aim for. How do you do that?
Most small business owners simply keep going. They stop on the 24th December, rest and try to relax. By around the 27th or 28th they start to think about next year and what it’ll have in store for them.
What they don’t do is plan what will happen to their business and where they’ll take it and the following year becomes very much like the previous one.
Larger businesses tend to set goals for the following year. And most base these goals on the performance of the year just gone. They look at their key metrics for the year and what they achieved, such as revenue, profit and market share and then add a percentage. Of course there are exceptions for all sizes of business but these exceptions are the businesses that stand out.
What these exceptions do is create 12-month targets based not on what they achieved the year before but on what the next big leap forward will be for their business.
It’s a target that connects to the future – not to the past.
Looking forward to what you want to achieve and not what you did achieve, what’s the next major step forward in your business? What’s the next level? What would transform the fortunes of your business so that it was worth 5 or 10 times or more than it does now? What’s the next big leap – the big idea?
Think big and come up with this transformational strategic destination.
Once you’ve defined this strategic destination, how long will it take to get there – 3 years, 4, 5? If you are just starting out the next big level may be 18 months to 2 years ahead. That doesn’t matter – what does matter is that you have a clear destination in mind that will transform your business.
Draw a time-line from where you are now to this destination and let’s say it’s a 3-year time-line. Now break the line into 3 segments and you have your annual time-lines.
Now work backwards. To reach this destination where does your business need to be in 2 years? To get your business there where does it need to be in 12 months? To get there where does it need to be in 9 months, in 6 months, in 3 months?
Keep breaking this line down into milestones that you need to hit. Zoom in and 3 months becomes 12 weeks.
Apart from really helping you drive your business forward rather than just getting by, the beauty of this is that you only need to concern yourself with the looming milestones because they’re all connected – hit those and you know you’re on track.
At some point during this exercise (and it could be when you set where you would need to be in 12 months time) you may decide that reaching a particular milestone is unrealistic. They should be challenging but not unrealistic.
But if unrealistic then go back to the strategic destination and rather than dilute it (assuming it is itself realistic) simply extend it. Instead of 3 years, would 3½ years make it achievable? Break that time-line down and see what that means for the months ahead.
Eventually you will have challenging but realistic 12-month goals that are based on reaching a future destination rather than simply based on a finger-in-the-air improvement on last year.
Do this now and you will find a weight taken off you and replaced with a new surge of excitement of what you could achieve and how to get there.
And the bonus is that you will relax and enjoy the festive break far more and be energized and excited to drive towards these milestones in the New Year.
I describe how to create this strategic destination in my book “Your Business Foundation”. In it I also take you through how to build a business on a strong foundation that gives you the certainty needed to reach your destination and the control to make it happen.
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