Setting Business Goals & Making Them Work

With the year approaching its end, you need to make sure you have a plan for next year’s business goals.  A good place to start is by evaluating this year’s goals.  Then, set a plan in place to help you reach next year’s goals.

The trick to truly being able to look back at the end of the year and say you accomplished what you set out to in your business is to take your business goals and turn them into daily Business Value Task Lists. If you can find a way to do that, you can accomplish all your goals.  Some of the task lists will have to be created by department. In addition to setting goals as a business owner, you should have each department head in your business set goals.  Then, everyone should meet as a group to discuss the goals and start creating an action plan to achieve them. The first step to accomplishing this is to go into hibernation mode, where you take time to reflect, review, and set goals without the normal daily business interruptions around to stop you from thinking. If you have been setting goals for a while, take out last year’s business goals and review them. Take time to evaluate what lessons you learned over the previous year. Did you accomplish them? How about this year’s?

If this is your first time to attempt business goal setting, congratulations! You are taking a very important step in changing your business. Remember, if you don’t have a plan for where your business is going, you will never get there.

Step One: Set Yearly Goals

The first step in creating your Business Values Task Lists is to set goals. These goals should focus on the major areas of your business’s success.  All goals must be specific, action-oriented, measurable, realistic, and time specific.  If they do not meet these five criteria, they are not really goals. Examples of good and bad ways to write goals in business are listed below. I will be using my urgent care and occupational medicine business in this example.

Financial Goals

Clearly Defined Goals: Decrease expenses by 12.5% overall by December 31. Increase profits by 2% per month, for a total of 24% by December 31.

Undefined Goals: Analyze company growth numbers weekly. Create a report that will analyze cash flow and profit margins.

Marketing Goals

Clearly Defined Goals: Set-up in-house cable advertising by the end of January, with 10 rotating ads changing out monthly. Keep visitors on our website an average of two more pages per visit by putting a next button on each page.

Undefined Goals: Improve patient satisfaction scores. Increase number of referral patients from friends and family members.

Occupational Medicine Goals

Clearly Defined Goals: Increase workers’ compensation numbers by five companies every month. Average 10 DNA tests per month.

Undefined Goals: Increase more companies utilizing our occupational medicine program. Have more people come in for DNA tests.

Step Two: Create a Top 10 List 

After you have created a list of business goals, the goals should be numbered in order of priority to find the ten most important goals for that year. Remember, the top 10 goals must be reachable.  A wish is something you hope for, but you don’t plan for. A goal is something that is time specific, achievable, and you’re willing to work towards. Once you have your top 10 business goals, rewrite or review them daily to ensure you are always thinking about your goals.

Step Three: Monthly Goal Setting

At the start of the year, decide what goals you want, or need, to accomplish first. Then, create a Monthly Master Task List for the month broken down into the same categories listed in your Yearly Goal List.  The list should outline the things you need to do to reach your goals for the month. At the end of each month, review the progress on your goals and decide what tasks need to be carried over to the next month.  Each month you should update and reevaluate your monthly task list and coordinate it with your yearly business goals.  This should also be done by departments at your business.

Step Four: Weekly Goal Setting

At the end of each week, take at least 30 minutes to review your monthly goals and plan out how you can achieve them the next week. You should plan two to three things you can accomplish for each goal during the next week. Once you have set your goals, create a to-do list below them. The to-do list is your action plan to accomplishing your weekly business goals.

Step Five: Daily Goal Setting

Every night review your weekly business goals and set-up a daily to-do list for the next day. This daily to-do list should be realistic. Decide how many things you can truly handle in one day. Depending on their complexity, the average person can usually accomplish 10 to 15 things a day. Highlight or note the most important things to accomplish on your daily task the list.

Another option is to prioritize the list and rewrite it in the order you are going to accomplish it. You might be thinking to yourself, “I already make a daily to-do list. Why should I go through all of these steps?” The answer is simple. If you just get up in the morning and make a daily to-do list, that list is not related back to what is really important to your business. You have to make time to accomplish your business goals, or you will never do them. This goal setting system allows you to intentionally do something about your business goals. By the end of the year, you will have 365 daily task lists that revert directly back to your business goals.

Step Six: Establish Accountability

If you require your departments to follow this system, you must hold them accountable for achieving their goals.  One way to do this is through two weekly reports.  At the beginning of each week, your supervisors should send you their weekly priority task lists.  At the end of each week, they should send you their weekly productivity report.  The reports should be compared to make sure all departments are working towards achieving your yearly business goals. The analysis of the two reports will also help you identify if your employees are utilizing their time efficiently.  It will help red flag the little day-to-day problems that often over consume the time of supervisors in your business, allowing you to restructure a plan to achieve goals before your supervisors fall behind on the goals you have set.

Living Every Minute,

Dr. Tim

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