This post is one in a series of tips for making your small business run better and is sponsored by UPS. UPS is all about logistics — the logistics that makes your business run better and faster
This time of year many businesses turn to planning as a way to determine the path for the upcoming year. It’s a great practice and one that I support without hesitation.
Taking stock of where you are now and how you intend to move towards the vision for your business as you see it down the road is something that you must do to create positive change and growth.
While the task of annual planning is a necessary one, it’s also one that is fraught with challenges.
The best strategic planning focuses on carving our priorities for the year. The challenge with this is that many organizations see it as a time to create a giant wish list or to do list.
In my experience most small businesses can only focus on a handful of priorities or objectives at any given time and the key is leave more out of your plan for the year than you leave in.
The focus of your planning is to identify your top three objectives and commit to taking massive action on making them happen. When you think small numbers you can think big ideas and that’s how you move in the direction of real growth.
An objective is a priority
Calling something one of your primary annual objectives makes it a priority and that status must be affirmed, communicated, acted upon and held up for all to view throughout the year.
Create themed communications, events and education that keep the focus on your stated objectives.
Every objective requires a goal
Once you establish your objectives for the year figure out how you plan to measure your progress. Set goals, no more than one or two, for each objective and make your act of measurement and reporting on your progress as transparent as possible.
Build internal dashboards, report in to all hands meetings and plan to adjust your goals and actions in real-time. Let’s face it, a goal, while meaningful, is often a guess. Feed the data often and analyze what it means when it’s real.
Goals require new habits and behavior
Once you have the objectives defined and goals attached the hard work stars. Here’s something that I know about goals. It’s fine to state a goal, but most of what we do in life is dictated by our habits.
If you want to make real and lasting change towards the attainment of a goal, particularly a goal that stretches your current reality, you must adopt a corresponding set of new habits.
This is the point where I want to suggest that you check out my interview with Charles Duhigg, author of the Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and In Business.
Duhigg shows how habits and goals are aligned in ways that often make it impossible to succeed.
Look at your goals and objectives and ask yourself what has to change.
Do you need to delegate more, hire someone, fire someone, create focus days, have more meetings, have fewer meetings, start working out, stop saying yes, start charging more, get up earlier, get home earlier or just sit for a very long time while you reconnect with why you do what you do?
Once you can identify habits that are in the way you can start to address the organizational and personal behavior that must change in order to move in the direction of your goals and objectives. Don’t take this step lightly, it’s the key to success.
While planning like this often is seen as an annual event, and I don’t want to discourage that notion, it’s really an every day, every week, every month, every quarter kind of thing that must stay top of mind and inform every decision you make minute by minute.