Quick 'Take Aways'
- A successful business works, without you
- Know where you are going. Clarity is power
- Common goals inspire and enroll
- Manage outcomes and empower your teams
- Focus on achieving daily goals – for every person and area in your business
For owners of small- and medium-enterprises, a business is their vehicle to freedom. Done right, it sets owners up with recurring revenue, so they don’t have to work every hour under the Sun. In fact, they get paid whether they work or not. A successful business is commercially robust (where there is control of the day-to-day operations rather than the ‘chaos’ of running around trying not to impersonate a ‘headless chicken’), it is profitable (with regular and consistent cashflow) and it works through a great team and excellent systems - in other words, without the business owner!
Does that sound fanciful? If so, read on, because there is a clear roadmap to get every business to that point and to get every business owner more time, control and enjoyment back into their life – and to make more money. For an overview of the process, read Move your business from a dream to reality.
The foundations of a successful business are built on Mastery. Mastery of where you are going (called Destination Mastery), of the business numbers (referred to as Financial Mastery) so owners can make informed decisions that are timely, not retrospective, of the owner’s and team’s time (surprisingly called Time Mastery!) and Delivery Mastery (being consistent with how you deliver your product or service so that customers have a great experience, every time.
To get somewhere, you need to know where that is. You need to know where you are going, or else anywhere is good enough. And remember, ‘good enough’, isn’t! To set your business up for success, Destination Mastery is essential.
Stephen Covey coined the phrase ‘Start with the end in mind’. It is a gem, because if we don’t, we risk meandering along and being tripped up by the challenges of each day. Starting with a clear sense of where we want to go, our ‘dream destination’, allows us to plan and set goals to get there.
Goals come in three types. For some business owners, there are negative, ‘away from’ goals. ‘I don’t want to work 80 hours per week’ or ‘I don’t want to have too few staff’ or ‘I don’t want any overdraft in my business’ (or a mortgage, for homeowners) are all examples of negative goals. They are things we want to get away from and can be motivating in their own way. The big challenge with negative goals is that they stop motivating us to achieve things and don’t provide much momentum when the negative stops hurting quite so much. Either the person becomes used to the pain or it gets felt a little less. Perhaps they get used to not having enough staff and having to work plenty of hours, so that is “just how things are”.
Positive goals are ones that we actively set and look to grow towards. So, instead of not wanting an overdraft a mortgage, how about ‘I want to have $100,000 in the bank’ or ‘I want my house totally debt-free’. For businesses right now, setting a positive goal of growing the team to be able to fulfill customer demand is a positive goal that can be achieved, and which ultimately grows the business when done.
The third type of goal ties into uniting your business and keeping people aligned. A goal that is bigger than you, a legacy goal, needs more than what you can do alone. Others also need to feel a sense of accomplishment when its done. For my business, that goal (which is also my company vision) is to create thriving, prosperous communities through business growth. There is no way I can do that alone and I know that together we can do so much more! For others it may be to be the best [insert your business here – plumber, electrician, scaffolder, dentist, doctor] in [wherever you are based – Wellington, Otaki, Masterton].
Imagine the impact of a goal bigger than you. If your business sets out to be the best plumber of Wellington, who do you think will apply to come and work for you? The best plumbers and apprentices, or the worst? The same goes for customer looking for the best and so your company direction is set from the get-go. You are now on the past to ‘be the best’, even if you may not be there yet. You know where you are going, so every decision you make is also guided by a simple question: Will that help make me the best, or will it just make me average?
To get everyone in your business working together needs a common goal, something that unites, enrolls and inspires. It isn’t just the business owner’s goal and it isn’t just to make more money (although clear financial goals are important). I recently saw a silly but still amusing anecdote, where the ‘boss’ is showing off her new high-end sports car. She tells the employee that if he works really, really hard and meets the goals she set, then next year…she will be able to buy a second new car! Contrast that with the All Blacks or the Springboks, where the common goal unites everyone involved from the back-room staff to the players on the field and from there across the country. In 2019, when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup, they made no secret of the fact that their common goal was to give a sliver of hope to a country battling a number of social ills. Yes, the team go the glory, but the bigger goal united the players, coaches and support staff over the campaign.
Clarity is power. Sticking with the rugby analogy, it isn’t enough that only the captain (read, business owner) knows what the goal is. How well do you think the team will play if the captain knows what to aim for, but the fullback, the wing, the lock, the flyhalf don’t know? How will they make critical decisions when the heat is on? They can’t be expected to perform without being clear on the why, what, when and how, and that takes us to an absolutely essential ingredient in the recipe for successful businesses: Communication of goals is practically as important as the goals themselves.
Your job as a business owner is to own the final decision. Its your business and so you have that responsibility and privilege, but you don’t have to do it all yourself. Once you’ve decided your destination, the direction of where you want the business to go, you then must communicate that again and again. Not all people won’t get it the first time, so you need to keep speaking to them, keep reminding them and keep moving them in the right direction. And in that, SMART goals are one of your greatest tools.
Smart goals are specific, measurable, achievement-oriented, realistic and time-bound (‘we will achieve $3m in revenue in 2022). They are also hyper-granular, so when mastering destination start with daily goals. By getting daily things right in your business, then moving to the weekly and once you’ve mastered that the monthly, quarterly and annual, your business will fly.
Some people can be unrealistic in setting goals. If you tell your sales leader they must get a thousand new leads next month when the average for the past year has been a hundred per month, the chances are that that goal will not be achieved. By setting an unrealistic goal you have now demotivated your team, because they just don’t believe its even possible. In the same way, having too many goals doesn’t work either, because you don’t know where to focus.
Being granular means it starts with you (the business owner and captain of the team) and must include all the players in each position (for loose forwards, tight ‘five’, halfbacks, midfield and outside backs, think about the different parts of your business). When the salesperson knows exactly what he must do today and the installer and dispatcher know the precise outcomes they must achieve today and the marketer knows how many leads must be contacted or how many prospects connected with, that clarity is going to set your business onto the fast track. Knowing where the goal posts are means you know where you can score!
Practically, plan tomorrow before you leave work today. Have clear goals for to achieve tomorrow so that you know exactly what you must do when you get in in the morning. These are goals to achieve, not things to do…Smart goals are about outcomes and allow you to easily manage yourself and your teams. By setting the outcomes you then empower your people to find the best ways to get stuff done and you manage the outcomes. I recommend using daily ‘standups’ (standing up pretty much ensures you keep things on point, short and focused) to get the whole team aligned. You don’t need to know all the answers, either. Because everyone is clear on their goals, you manage by being curious, asking questions and that way get a good sense of what is needed to win the game of business.
For many of your staff this may be a new way of working. It may be a new way of working for you! So start small, think big and scale fast. Set daily goals yourself, initially, by asking ‘What do I need to achieve tomorrow?’ When you have a good handle of how the process of setting SMART daily goals works, extend it to your team leaders and then to the rest of the business.
You’ve got this!
Focus, Accountability and Mentoring are the keys to unlocking your future. HERE’S WHY
If you want to do things differently and better, book a free 30-minute consultation to see what in my 25+ years in business can shift the dial for you.