[caption id="attachment_2875" align="alignleft" width="300"] Are your 2013 annual projections on target? Halfway through the year is an opportune time to evaluate your current strategies.[/caption]
Part of the art and science of setting and achieving business goals involves “checking in” with them on a regular basis, analyzing them in light of any new information you may have and deciding whether or not to make adjustments.
Does this sound familiar? You set business goals at the beginning of the year, and go about achieving them with gusto, only to find in October or November that the results aren’t quite tracking. What happened? Changes in your business, competitors, customers or the environment overall? It could be any or all of these, but trying to pinpoint them at the end of the year is tough. You’ll get a much more accurate reading quarter by quarter, or more frequently if you can manage it.
As you’re revisiting your goals during the year and tracking your progress, there are three things to look for: (1) Goals you’re exceeding substantially; (2) Goals you’re not hitting; (3) Goals that may be the wrong ones altogether.
Goals you’re significantly surpassing
Why should you fix it if it’s not broken? Well, while exceeding a goal is a great problem to have, it can indicate flaws in planning or allocation of resources. Are you over-spending in marketing in this area or offering unnecessary incentives? Or, if the potential is that good, are there signs you should be trying to leverage it even further?
Goals you’re not reaching
This, too, could indicate poor forecasting or a misallocation of resources. But, there could also be more here than meets the eye. You could have planned perfectly well, but other factors intervened. Did a major competitor open down the street or Amp up its online promotions? Did consumers pull back their spending in your category? If so, you have choices, including launching a counterattack or even changing or reframing the goal itself.
Goals that may need to be replaced
This is the most difficult of the three to address. Perhaps you find that a goal is one you no longer should—or want to—pursue. Goals can be legitimately dropped or tabled; don’t hang on “just because.” You’ve no doubt heard the saying, ‘Throwing good money after bad.’ Which simply means there are times to cut your losses and shift your efforts into areas with more potential. The question is, how do you know whether to abandon a goal or increase your efforts to achieve it? There’s just no easy answer.
Infoentrepreneurs.com provides a step-by-guide for reviewing your business performance, pointing out that after the grueling startup phase, business owners often want to put things in place and let them run, especially if things appear to be going well. But planning is an ongoing process, and part of that process is knowing what to do next by updating your business plan and evaluating your progress.
This is a great guide, easy to understand and use, that walks you through the entire process, detailing every stage you need to work through to determine how your business is performing; focus on your strengths as well as areas that need improvement; and take action to implement needed improvements. There are great insights in key areas:
- Why it’s critical to review your progress
- How to assess your core activities
- Assessing your business efficiency
- Reviewing your financial position
- Doing analyses of competitors, customers and the marketplace
- Redefining your goals
- Models for the strategic analysis
- Breaking down your strategic review
Some additional food for thought (and a related-but-somewhat-different philosophy) for business owners on planning, changing, adapting, staying nimble. The 'Unplan Your Business' blog advocates that less is more when it comes to planning, and that action should always trump over-strategizing. The site refers to author Gary Vaynerchuk, who encourages individuals to be reactionary in business—willing and able to constantly adapt and change. Here’s excerpt from his book, Crush It! Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion to get you thinking…
Nothing in life ever goes exactly the way you think it will, and that goes for all of your carefully planned entrepreneurial dreams and goals…You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs aren’t good at adjusting to changing environments, and it’s a major reason why so many businesses don’t achieve their full potential…
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