Last time, I wrote about the benefits of a growth planning system, and today I’m going to address “Where to Start” – with the objective being to hit the ground running.
If I am the business owner, this is where I start:
- Start with Desired Outcome. This could also be stated, in the words of the late great Steven R. Covey, as Begin With The End In Mind. Create a list of the most critical goals to achieve, focusing on GROWTH.
- Use quarterly goals, not just an annual goal. By establishing the goals for the next 4 quarters, you are setting a course, not just taking a snapshot, and you’ll find that the goals become much more actionable. You may use growth in the Number of Customers, Number of Transactions, Revenue, Gross Margin, Operating Income. Or the Increase in Cash. What are the most important growth metrics for your business?
- Make sure they are SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.
- Start with this list. No econometric analytics required here. Just write them down, and be very specific.
List at least 6 and no more than 10.
- Call these your Quarterly Goals and Objectives. Schedule two meetings with your direct reports, about a week apart (if you have fewer than 10 employees, you may include everyone). It’s preferable to meet offsite.
- At the first meeting, have a detailed discussion with your staff about these goals, and why you chose them. Ask them to create their own lists of 6 to 10 goals that align with yours, and be prepared to discuss them with the group at a second meeting. Their goals should be within their control, but the employee should be able to express how their goals benefit the growth of the company. If you want to take it a step further, there should be a discussion about how each person’s goals affect the other employees’ goals.
- Before you adjourn, schedule a follow-up meeting to have everyone review their goals with you and the group.
- This process can be carried out to all employees.
This is the foundation of a real, working growth planning process. But wait – there’s no spreadsheet, no model?
Later I’ll address the means to create a more sophisticated, comprehensive planning and forecasting process. But if the only thing you do is engage your team in the process of aligning their individual goals with your growth goals for the business, you have unleashed something more powerful that any hardware or software – you’ve got the power of engaged, motivated employees – the power of LIVEware.
NEXT UP: I’ve established goals and objectives – Now What?