Setting goals for growth

Rise with Xeinadin



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Running a business without goals is like…well…trying to play a football match without goals. Or a final whistle. Or indeed, a team talk.

Unless you’ve precisely articulated what your business plans to achieve within a specific time frame, and ensured that everyone in the team understands (and subscribes to) that articulation, you’ll find it almost impossible to achieve what you set out to do. 

And there’s nothing more expensive or self-destructive than working hard and getting nowhere. 

It’s important not to confuse business goals (defined) with objectives (specific) or a mission statement (a wish list). For the sake of clarity, the difference between a mission statement and a business goal is a goal that is SMART.

The SMART method to set business goals

SMART is an internationally recognised acronym designed to help businesses set meaningful goals. It stands for:

  • Specific: It’s all very well saying you want to be the best widget manufacturer the world has ever known. But how will your team, clients or anyone, know whether you’ve achieved it? And for that matter, where do you start? 
  • Measurable: You need to be able to measure how you’re doing, how your products are improving, how your customers feel about them… 
  • Attainable: This means serious research of your market and a good, hard look in the mirror. You may want to be market leader, but do you have the time and the resources? Is your market dominated by an unshakable Goliath? Dragging your team after a mythical Holy Grail is only going to lose you focus, credibility, and team members. But beware – this ‘A’ also stands for ‘Ambition’ – attainable does not mean easy. So, your goal should stretch you to the limits of your organisation’s abilities, but remain achievable.
  • Realistic: Given the talents available to you, the reality of your product and the expectations of your customers, is what you want to do achievable? Or are you setting yourself up (and worse, your team) for failure?
  • Timely: Can you attain your goal in a reasonable amount of time?

If any one of those elements is missing, you’re setting yourself and your team up for failure. A typical SMART objective is “Increase sales of cars to family customers by 10% by September 2023”.

Of course, some of your objectives will be short-term – aimed at a specific segment and producing a specific financial outcome, and they’ll change frequently as you achieve them. Others will target your ambitions for the category with quality-based specifics, will be measured each year, and might remain part of your strategy for many years. You might want to set short-term objectives for sales, or customer retention, and long-term objectives for awareness and market share.

If you start by making your goals SMART you will have a much greater chance of achieving them. Setting SMART goals helps you clarify your ideas, focus your efforts and the efforts of those around you, use your time and resources more productively, and massively improve your chances of achieving what you want in life.

Use SWOT analysis to assess your business’s health

Bear in mind that this is a very blunt tool – not a measured way to design objectives – but it does give you a very broad snapshot of where you stand – and it can be particularly useful if you ask your team, clients and directors to do a SWOT analysis independently; the breadth of opinion may surprise you and stimulate you to put more work into team focus.

SWOT, by the way, is another acronym. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats:

  • Strengths: The good points about your business 
  • Weaknesses: The parts of your business that need fixing.
  • Opportunities: The areas where your business has the potential to grow.
  • Threats: The challenges facing your business from competitors, supply bottlenecks, etc.

The difference between goals and objectives

  • Business goals are general, long-term ambitions. Once you’ve agreed on these, break them down into tightly defined business objectives.
  • Business objectives are specific, short-term targets. They’re measuring points, or milestones, to help you assess your progress. If, for instance, one of your business goals is to reach 10% market share within 3 years, you might want to set an objective of increasing new customers by x% every six months.

How to set objectives to help you attain your business goals

As you work to achieve your business goals, you’ll need to develop business objectives in a way that is workable for your team. Business objectives provide a concrete game plan that allows your team to achieve the company goals.

  • Know who will be involved. Implement a performance management system for assignments. Build the company objectives into your team member performance reviews and reward those who achieve objectives.
  • Create action plans. These should include specific tasks for specific people. Make sure individuals have ownership of pieces of the plan.
  • Establish a timeline. Set deadlines for reaching the company’s goals and individual objectives.
  • Provide sufficient resources. Ensure that your team is equipped to do what they’re asked. Build your business objectives into your budgeting process.
  • Be a leader. Clearly communicate your business goals and business objectives. Describe the final destination so that your team members know what they’re working towards. Keep them updated. Be transparent. Be honest. Inspire your team.

Time to get started on your goals! Rise with Xeinadin

Take action! 

  • Book your free Rise session for ‘Setting goals for growth’. Visit our Rise webpage to see our upcoming events and learn more about our Rise business growth programme. 
  • Arrange a bespoke Rise session for your team, focusing on your business priorities at a venue convenient for you. Contact our business advisors to discuss further. 

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