Welcome to a brand-new year! As you rang in 2023, what resolutions did you make? For most well-intentioned Americans, the typical resolutions to lose weight or exercise are, sadly, discarded by spring. What about your business? Are you setting aspirational goals for your business that have the same chance of success as Uncle Ernie’s annual resolution to lose 30 pounds?
We can wish, hope, dream, and make resolutions all year long, yet growing a business takes more. Resolutions don’t succeed unless they are anchored to actions. The framework that binds those two things together is a plan. Planning and leadership are two fundamentals that go hand-in-hand. Let’s find out how these two roles work together.
GPS: Fundamentals: Planning & Leadership
You may already be familiar with the concept of SMART goals. The acronym SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This model is a useful shorthand to illustrate how hopes, dreams, and vague resolutions differ from solid, actionable plans. Leaders and planners work together to first envision the goal (making sure it is relevant and achievable), then deconstruct it into (specific) building blocks that can be set to timelines and assigned to team members (making those building blocks measurable and time-bound). With leadership and planning, your business goals will be far more successful than a forgotten New Year’s resolution.
When a leader has the vision for the future of a business, they can see the target and understand why it’s worthwhile to rally the troops in pursuit of a particular goal. Leaders can visualize the next level and make the team understand it’s possible to get there. They must also break things down into pieces, creating a roadmap from what would otherwise be a pie-in-the-sky aspiration. Not every visionary is also skilled at implementation and breaking down goals into milestones. So if you need an advisor or team to work closely with you to achieve this integral piece of the puzzle, you are not alone.
Once a roadmap has been created, leadership also includes pinpointing obstacles that may have been getting in the way up until now, as well as obstacles that could pop up in the near future.
To translate an aspirational goal into a workable roadmap, complete with SMART criteria leading upward to accomplish a goal, a good leader and their team will ask questions such as:
• What has to happen first?
• What does the team need to accomplish this?
• Why haven’t we done this already?
• How long will this stage take to complete?
• What metric will be used to mark the finish line for this step?
• How will the business change once this goal has been met?
While the leader acts as a catalyst and motivator, crafting solid roadmaps and plans to meet goals is the way successful businesses grow and flourish. You, as the leader of your business, likely have the motivation and an idea already — next, you’ll need a plan.
A plan typically requires the input of more than one person. After all, if the goal was easy enough to accomplish alone, it would be done already! A planning team should be familiar with all the moving parts a business has, so they can formulate a roadmap that takes each process into account. The team must assign responsibility and track progress for each process along the way, as nothing moves forward without accountability. Remember that the highest peak can be reached through careful planning and reducing the whole to parts that are SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
–Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Almost a century ago, French writer and aviation pioneer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry knew the importance of putting step-by-step plans into place for future success. Everyone has wishes — but since there aren’t any genies around, only people with a plan succeed in making their wish come true.
No one person can be all things. Even the most energetic business owners reach their own limits as their business grows. It’s at this point that a qualified advisor can provide customized support to help a business overcome hurdles or take off from a plateau — transforming hazy aspirations into solid plans and processes. Chuck and Brian Mohler at Eagle Corporate Advisors provide the knowledge and experience to bring your business to a higher level.