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From Goals to Objectives to Strategies

Well it’s the start of a new year!

I hope you have had a refreshing break, recharged your batteries, and are ready to come afresh to building the business of your dreams!

It’s a great opportunity, in this season of New Year’s resolutions, to review your goals and make some plans for the coming year. Here’s a quick four-step approach to put together a no nonsense “business plan” for 2016 simply using a series of questions to focus your thinking.

First, review and understand your Vision.

What do you want from your business? What should your business look like, how should it operate? In a few words, or dot-points, ask yourself how you would describe your ideal (insert here what kind of business you are building). For example if you are a clothing retailer ask “How would I describe the ideal clothing retailer?” If you run a restaurant “How would I describe my ideal restaurant?”

Make sure you are able to understand what “success” means to you. Perhaps in the example of the clothing retailer you might list:-

  • Mid-price up to date stock
  • Gives good, responsive service
  • Convenient shopping for customers
  • Knowledgable and courteous staff

Or, for the restaurant:-

  • Seasonal menus
  • Modern Italian food
  • Helpful staff
  • Comfortable dining

These descriptions of what it would mean to you to run the ideal business in your industry outlines the key values of “success” which you must aim for.

The second step is to cascade those key values into goals for the appropriate time frame.

In this context for 2016, the appropriate time frame is the 12 months of 2016. This sets the reality of what you can achieve and thus aim for.

To cascade the values into goals ask yourself the following question – “For each of the key values I have identified what do I need to achieve in 2016?”

If you take the clothing retailer example, you might have the following:-

  • Mid-price up to date stock
    • 80% of stock must be 2016 lines
    • Average stock value must be in the range of $100-$300
  • Give good, responsive service
    • All staff to be excellent in providing sales service
  • And so on….

Once you have made sure that these statements are capable of being achieved in 2016 (even if at a stretch) then these become your goals for 2016. The example gave “80% of all stock must be 2016 lines” but why not 100%? In this example, perhaps the retailer realised that she still had a lot of 2015 stock and it would not be possible to sell all this stock within 12 months. However she wants to push herself to sell as much of the old stock as possible and not settle for any less than 80% to be new. The goals are thus framed in reality, but with a challenging stretch.

Third, “measure” the success of each goal into “objectives”.

To cascade the goals into measurable objectives, ask yourself “What can I say has been measurably done to achieve the goal?”

In the above example some of the goals already have built-in measurements, i.e. the “80%” measure of 2016 stock, and the value range of $100-$300. However you can drill further to set some objectives that will drive you to achieve the goals in the year.

For example one objective may be “To reduce all 2015 and earlier stock to 20% of all stock by March 2016.” This can be paired with another objective “To buy sufficient new stock over January to March 2016 to achieve 80% of all stock as 2016 lines.”

These two objectives then drive you to achieve the goal of “80% of all stock must be 2016 lines” and they have built in measurements of value and time so that you can monitor how you are going from time to time.

For the goal in the example above that didn’t have a built-in measure – “All staff to be excellent in providing sales service” – the answer to “what can I say has been measurably done to achieve the goal” may be “To put all staff through sales service training in 2016″ and be coupled with “To achieve a 100% client satisfaction rating in client surveys in store”.

These two objectives provide the way to ensure the staff are properly equipped, and set a measure for success in that area.

Finally formulate your strategies.

To do this, ask yourself for each objective “what must I do in 2016 to get this done?”

Continuing the example above, the strategies might be:-

  • Hold a sale of all 2015 and earlier stock over January to March
  • Obtain sufficient finance in March to restock with 2016 lines
  • Identify and enrol staff in customer sales service training course so all go through between April and June
  • Start an easy to fill-in customer survey on client service from April
  • Counsel staff who are getting negative service feedback – formal reviews from April

These are just some examples so if you followed through, you would end up with your quick plan for 2016 that:-

  1. Created a set of key values measuring the “success” that is described in your vision
  2. From the values, identifying a set of goals for the year
  3. From the goals, establishing a set of objectives that measure achievement of the goals
  4. From the objectives, compiling a list of actions to be implemented in 2016.

The value of this four-step approach is that, instead of putting together a collection of unrelated “to-do”items, you are putting together a plan that cascades from the ultimate dream you are trying to build – each action item brings you closer to the big picture.

If you want these tips and tools to create strategy, provide leadership and grow your business, subscribe here to have these valuable how-to articles delivered right to your inbox every week.

And as it is the start of the new year, now might be the time to check out the website teikoh.com to see what valuable tricks and traps you might have missed last year. It’s free, as are various templates and tools available for download from the website.


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