It’s nearly half way through the year – I know, I’m pretty sure it was February last time I looked at the calendar… The truth is, the last few months have absolutely flown by in a haze of client work, meetings and networking events, and although it looks as though the next few months are set to be the same, I am booking in a three-hour session in a local coffee shop next week ALL BY MYSELF. I am aware that this does, from the outside, look a little like I have lost the plot and just need to satisfy an overwhelming urge to consume fabulous cakes and artisan coffee, but it’s actually a whole lot more strategic and business focused than that (despite the cake).
I know I talk a lot about business reviews, but they are such an important part of any business, regardless of industry or turnover, and this year I am working hard to retain focus and drive in my business so that it continues to build and develop in the way that I want it to. I have found that business reviews are wildly unsuccessful if I try to carry them out in the house where I can be easily distracted by pets/household chores/client work etc. For an effective review session, I need to be away from my primary work device (my desktop) and landline, but it’s important to find somewhere that is still quiet enough to focus on both the things that have gone well, and the things that haven’t quite gone to plan over the last few months. At this time of year, a rural pub garden will suffice (and will enable you to have a celebratory beverage when you’ve completed the session!).
This year, I’m also part of several ‘accountability groups’ – groups of individuals who are all in a similar situation to me (running their own small businesses, often within the same industry, and trying to grow a successful and profitable business) who meet once or twice a month to say “How are you doing with those business targets?” and give each other a virtual slap if we’ve lost direction or momentum.
Of course, to allow for a good business review, you need good business goals in place first so that you actually can tell whether you’re heading in the right direction! But don’t fret – even if you haven’t your business goals in place for 2018 yet, it’s not too late to prepare them. You just need to ensure that they are:
Specific – “I always want to be better” is an interesting affirmation, but a rubbish goal. What do you want to be better at? If you were ‘better’ at something, would it actually have a positive impact on your business? For example, I would love to have better handwriting, but realistically, whether I write like a drunken spider or a medieval scribe, it’s probably not going to make a huge amount of difference as the majority of my correspondence is typed.
Measurable – How will you know if you are on track to meet your goals? It’s important to make sure that you can measure whether or not you are on target to reach your goal. Number of clients, number of billable hours worked, total amount of income – these are all measurable figures that can clearly highlight whether things are progressing as you had intended.
Attainable – with your current knowledge and skillset (and budget!), are your goals actually achievable? A full page advert in a national paper might not be a realistic goal if your marketing budget is £32.50, though there are other ways of getting positive exposure in national papers though, before you write it off completely! The twitter hashtag #journorequest is a great resource for reaching out to journalists looking for people just like you… Basically, you just need to make sure that you have the time, money, contacts or know-how to achieve the goals you are setting.
Relevant – Don’t want to grow your business into a multi-national organisation with dozens of staff? You don’t have to. Make sure that your goals are relevant to you, your business, and what you want to achieve. It doesn’t matter what businesses around you are doing – it’s what works and is appropriate for you that is important.
Timely – For me, the ideal timescale for a goal is around 90 days. If my timeline is any shorter, I just don’t have the time needed to commit to it and make it work. If my timeline is any longer, I tend to lose interest a little. Setting goals (and reviewing them) quarterly, gives me the opportunity to ensure that I am moving in the right direction, and catching anything that isn’t quite working as positively as I had liked as soon as possible so that I can take positive actions to rectify the situation. It’s also an excuse to enjoy a delicious home-made cake relatively regularly with little to no guilt. Because it’s work related.
How are your business goals for 2018 progressing? Are you moving in the direction you had originally hoped, or have you moved the goal posts to respond to changes to your business and personal life? Whether you are smashing your goals, or need to adjust them slightly, I’d still like to congratulate you on taking the time to actively review your business on a regular basis – I know how hard taking time out of the business to work on the business can be!