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A New Year- have you set your business goals? by Stewart Russell

05 Jan 2017

It’s that time of year when people have made their New Year’s resolution.  That might be to go to the gym, spend more time with the family or get out fishing more often; as we are only 5 days into the New Year, hopefully you haven’t broken them already!?

BUT have you made a resolution to spend some quality time working on your business, rather than immersing yourself in the business?

If you want to make some improvements to your business, whether that be profitability, less money tied up in it, or reducing the amount of time you need to spend in it, you need a plan to make this happen.  Remember the saying “a goal without a plan is just a wish” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

This does require some clear thinking which is best done away from the day to day business operations.  Typically you will want someone to bounce ideas off - maybe your spouse, partner, key employee, professional adviser or someone else whose opinion you respect.

Preferably this ideas session will come up with a long list of goals.  You will need to reduce this to, at most, the 5 top ideas which will have the most impact on your business.  You could choose some easy wins, giving you the momentum to continue with the trickier goals.

Setting the goals won’t make them happen - you need to devise an action plan.  For example last year we wanted to reduce the value of our debtors.  Our action plan was to review our credit control procedures, employ a part-time credit controller and set some clear targets for reducing debts each month.  By applying these strategies we were able to reduce our debtor days by over a third.

If you are struggling to devise the strategies to achieve your goals, your professional adviser or a business coach will be able to help you.

The next step is to monitor your performance regularly, at least monthly.  There is no point getting to the end of the year and realising you haven’t achieved your goals.  We meet the 2nd Thursday of every month to review what we have achieved, how the strategies are working, and tweaking things for the next month.  If one goal has been fully achieved, we will add a new goal for the forthcoming month. 

Again this is a role your professional adviser or business coach can help with - having to report on how you are achieving your goals makes you more aware and conscious of progress.  It is all too easy to be busy working in the business, rather than focusing on the business itself.

In summary, my advice for all business owners is to set your goals for what you want to achieve in the next twelve months, and devise strategies to achieve them.  Monitor your progress against your goals monthly and be prepared to change and adapt if some strategies are not working.

This will not guarantee you success but will significantly increase your chances of winning.

If you need any help in setting goals, devising strategies and monitoring progress, I am always happy to help and offer a free one hour consultation.  Stewart Russell, PKF Francis Aickin Ltd, 09 408 9366.

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