As the year end approaches, we can reflect on our business performance during 2017 and imagine what 2018 will bring. Both reflection and looking ahead are more meaningful if we have benchmarks against which to measure performance.
Unfortunately, few of us took the time in late 2016 to set out what we hoped to achieve in 2017, reducing our ability to learn and grow based on experience versus expectation. We may also have missed much of the opportunity to develop our 2018 strategy in response to the lessons from 2017.
I have a few suggestions about setting out your 2018 business goals and the broad strategy for reaching them. I'm a big fan of simple tools, so what follows isn't difficult to implement.
Mastering the suggestions and adding the needed detail are more challenging, but can be rewarding and effective at helping you improve your business performance.
Confirm Vision and Focus
What is the passion that drives you to have this particular business? Whatever you do in 2018 should measurably improve realization of your passion, so it is worthwhile to set it out explicitly. What products/services will you be offering to which market segments in 2018? Setting this out should trigger you to make explicit decisions any time you consider moving beyond your core focus.
Read also: Seeing And Getting There: Vision For Growth
Set Goals for 2018
Set out 5-10 key achievements you want to strive for in 2018, consistent with your Vision and Focus. Make sure these are unambiguous, comprehensive, and realistic. Consider revenue, profit, key hires, numbers of new clients, new marketing initiatives, new supplier relationships, etc. Goals should be lofty enough to motivate you to work hard, but not seen as unattainable by those you are trying to encourage.
Set Rocks for Q1
Rocks are the 4-7 things that are your top priorities to complete by the end of March 2018. These are what you must accomplish during the first quarter if you are to meet your annual goals. You don't need to set out Rocks explicitly for the full year now.
Set Tasks for January 2018
These are the things you must accomplish in January if you are to meet your Q1 rocks. These become your top priorities for the month. Don't try to set out Tasks for the full year now, although you should know what will likely need to be accomplished over the next three months.
Implement and Adjust
Throughout the year you will certainly face challenges, issues, and opportunities that are not foreseen today.
You need to keep your goals relevant by regularly checking them against current performance and your current environment. At least monthly, check your success at meeting your Tasks and set new ones for next month. At least quarterly, check your success at meeting your Rocks and set new ones for next quarter. This process of regularly checking progress and updating your business strategy will help everyone develop the self-discipline needed to keep it relevant and effective. Communicating and celebrating your successes throughout the year will keep everyone focused on achieving your 2018 Goals.
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