Does Goal Setting leave you feeling lost?

FREE Goal Setting checklist and template

If you have your own business, your business goals for next year should already be set, so you’re ready to make a good start after the Christmas holiday. If you haven’t set your business goals yet, then why not take up my offer of a free checklist to help you – complete the request at the bottom of this page

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Every January, I set myself resolutions – the usual kind of thing, lose weight; get fitter.

paper-3042645_640I’m ashamed to say that by the end of January, I’ve forgotten all about the resolutions…I’m still aware that I want to do the things I resolved to do, but life gets in the way. However with business, you can’t afford to be so blasé – a planned business with structured goals will always be more successful, and reviewing your plans on a regular basis gives you the chance to pick up on anything that is going wrong at an earlier stage.

So where do you start? There are 4 areas to think about….

What is your Mission Statement?

This is a statement that includes what your business is, who you’re selling to, what you’re selling and what is your unique selling proposition that makes you stand out from the crowd?

For example, if you run a dog sitting service in your own home, you might say…

“All dogs in our care live in our house in a safe and secure environment, and are treated as part of our family. We are happy to administer any medication and provide a loving and attentive service to your much loved pet.”

What are your business goals?

Think about where you want your business to be by this time next year. By which percentage do you wish to grow and how many customers do you expect to have? Make sure you have at least one goal that relates to your mission statement and one that links to the financial position of your business.

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Goals need to be SMART….

Specific – for example, my New Year’s Resolution, “I want to get fitter.” This is too vague. Being more specific, I should say, “I will join a gym and go three times a week.”

Measurable – You need to be able to measure your goals – for example, you might want to increase your sales by 25% by this time next year. How would you measure this throughout the year to ensure you are on track? You could break down sales, so you know how many sales you need to make every month to make this happen.

Attainable – goals need to be achievable, so don’t set the bar ridiculously high, such as Del boy in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ – “This time next year, we’ll be millionaires.”

Realistic – in the same way as goals needing to be achievable, they also need to be realistic. You must be both willing and able to work towards them. Only you can decide what is achievable and realistic for you and your business.

Timely – it’s sensible to put a time-frame on each of your goals – this keeps you focused. If you don’t have a time-frame, there is no sense of urgency and you can keep putting off doing anything ‘until tomorrow’…and we all know that tomorrow never comes!

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What are your business strategies?

Strategies are all about what are you going to do to achieve your goals.

Think about the four Ps…

Product(s) – what is it about your product that makes your customers want to buy it? Do you need to change your products in any way to meet your customers’ needs?

Pricing – how do you aim to compete with your competitor’s pricing – do you want to match it… undercut them… or do you want to charge more for a more quality product and service?

Place – where and how are you going to sell your products? Do you sell them yourself or outsource them to retail outlets?

Promotion – how are you going to let your existing and potential customers know about your products? This includes thinking about advertising, PR, direct mail and personal selling.

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What action do you need to take to achieve your goals?

How are you going to achieve your goals? If we take the ‘I want to increase my sales by 25%’ scenario, how will you do that? You might decide to launch a new, attractive product…you might give a discount if customers spend over a set amount, or do a ‘Buy one, get one free’ offer for a specific week.

Another scenario might be that you want to re-brand your business to make you stand out from your competitors. This will have a financial implication, so that needs to be in the action plan – your goal would be to re-brand, your action would be around how you will afford to do that – how many products would you need to sell, for example, to cover the cost?

Once you have decided the action(s) for achieving each goal, you need to know how you can measure the success of each action. Measurement is very important as it gives you an insight into what works well for your business and what doesn’t.

If you plan ahead, you stand a much better chance of succeeding. So, give a little time to setting your goals and sorting out how you are going to achieve them.

To obtain your free checklist and template for goal setting, please fill the form below and press submit.

Ten essential tips in making a good business plan

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A good business plan is exactly what it says on the tin – a plan for your business; how it’s going to succeed and what you need to do to make it grow.

Having a business plan forces you to look at the feasibility of your business, what will work and what won’t work….and makes you focus on the important and essential parts of your business – your next steps, tactics and strategies.

Here are a few tips on what to include, making sure you cover the essentials.

  1. Executive Summary – this is a brief overview of the whole plan. Detail what you do, how your business will make money and why customers will want to buy your product or services. This is best done after you have completed the rest of your plan.
  2. Analyse your market – it is worth investing some quality time in researching your market.
    – Look at what your competitors do – how are they successful and what makes them stand out from the rest?
    – Look at the price, quality and customer service that your competitors offer – then you can work out how to compete.
    – Where are the opportunities for your business – why will potential customers choose your products over those of your competitors?
    – Are there any barriers in place that may prevent potential customers from choosing your products or services?
    – If your business is already up and running, what do your customers like about your products, what do they buy; why do they buy from you and do they give you repeat business?
    The more you know about your customers, your competitors and the business you are in, the more likely you are to be successful.
  3. Business description – what it is, what you do.
    – Include a brief history of how and why you started your business.
    – Include your vision or mission statement – factors which you think will make your business a success
    – What is the current position of your business?
  4. Business goals – what are your business goals. For example, if you’re already in business, by what percentage do you wish to grow by this time next year? How many customers do you expect to have by this time next year?
  5. Management teams and employees – If you employ others, give details of your management team and employees and what their roles are.
    – How do they work together?
    – Do they all know what is expected of them and how they can help improve the business?
  6. Operations – what is in place now and what do you plan for the future?
    – Look at premises you currently work from (it might just be from home). What will you do if your business expands – what premises will you need to ensure your business succeeds?
    – Who are your suppliers? What happens if you lose one of your suppliers and do you have others as a back-up?
    – Do you need to have any training in a specific area to help your business move forward? For example, if you’re a hairdresser, how do you keep on top of current styles?
    – Is there any equipment or materials you may need to invest in? For example, wear and tear on your current equipment – or maybe you may need more advanced software in the future.
    – If you run an online shop, what happens if you get overrun with orders – can you keep up with them and get them out on time with packaging and postage?
  7. Financials – keep a record of what you spend and what you receive.
    – Are you likely to have cash flow problem – if so, how will you deal with it?
    – How much does your business currently cost to run and what is it likely to cost in one year – or two years’ time.
  8. Marketing strategy – this is where you define your tactics and strategies to ensure that you are successful – only needs to be brief in the business plan – you can be more specific in your marketing plan.
  9. Risk analysis – what could go wrong – look at best and worst case scenarios.
    – If something goes wrong, how will you deal with it?
    – Include your contingency plan
  10. Measurement – this is a really important aspect in a business or marketing plan, but often something that is overlooked. Measuring everything you do ensures you know what works and what doesn’t. You can then plan a different approach if necessary.
    – List what needs to be measured – such as how many people look at your business Facebook page or Tweets on Twitter. How can you improve on this?
    – How will you measure your success – what does success look like to your particular business?
    – Shout about your success – your customers will feel reassured they are dealing with the right business

team-3639693_640Once you have finished your business plan, you can write your Executive Summary.  Then leave it alone for a few days and go back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. You can then make any necessary adjustments.

I can’t tell you how long it will take you to complete your business plan – every plan is different and it will depend on you. Business planning takes time – you need to spend quality time on researching and planning your business and marketing strategies.

Take time out at least once every three months to review your plan. Some things you planned will have gone well, others not so well. A business plan is a working document. It’s never finished…always a ‘work in progress’.  Having a business plan won’t guarantee you success, but it will go a long way to helping!

If you need help writing and researching your business plan, please feel free to contact me by email – cindymobey@outlook.com or via my website, www.cindyfreelancewriter.com