On Track or Off Base?

Believe it or not, we’re just past the middle of the financial year. It might feel like mere weeks since you set your business goals for the year, but it’s still a good idea to review and measure them. It’s about checking what’s going well and what’s lagging behind, so you can get back on track by the close of the financial year. As always in business, the more you know about what’s going on, the better equipped you are to deal with it.

Of course, the success of this exercise depends on how well thought-out your goals were in the first place. Good business goals are specific, measurable, and realistic. If you didn’t meet those criteria at the goal-setting stage, you may find it difficult to track your achievements now.

Here’s how to measure and manage your on-going financial goals.

Review your goals

Business goals vary widely depending on the size of your business, your industry, and how long you’ve been in operation. For businesses that are just starting out, goals for the first year are generally not that ambitious – getting a handle on your finances is the most important thing in the early stages.

For more established businesses, goals can be financial – increasing profits, reducing costs, increasing prices; customer focused – like reducing customer churn or complaints; or product-led – for example, reducing the number of manufacturing errors or returns.

Data gathering

Once you have your goals in front of you, it’s time to gather the data. If you’re running a very small business, this should be fairly straightforward. Look for relevant sales data, bills and financial information, customer feedback or complaint forms, details about manufacturing or production – whatever you need to get an accurate picture of your performance.

This exercise may be more difficult for larger businesses and may involve seeking input from various team members.

In either case, if it’s very difficult to get your hands on the data you need, that’s valuable information too – it may mean that your next goals should focus on accurate, timely recording and data storage.

Analyse and record

Next, compare your goals to your data. The more specific and measurable your goals are, the easier this will be.

For example, if one of your goals is to bring in ten new clients during the year, you should be able to see exactly how close you are to reaching that goal. If you simply aimed to ‘increase client base’ it’s harder to judge whether you’re on track or not.

You’ll be the best judge of what ‘on track’ looks like – are you coming into a busy period that will mean you leap ahead? Or are you coming into a quiet patch, which means you need to ramp up effort?

Rejig, rework, reset

When you know whether you’re on track or lagging behind on your goals, you can work out what to do next. If you’re way ahead – for example, if you’ve increased sales by 20% and only aimed for 10% – you may want to make your year-end goals more ambitious.

On the other hand, if you’re struggling to meet your goals, you could choose to reset them to be more realistic – or outline the steps needed to push yourself for the remainder of the year.

Communicate and celebrate

Achieving a goal is worth celebrating. If you have a team, make sure you communicate the results to them – they deserve to feel proud of their achievements. If you’re not quite on track, it’s still worth communicating with your team. You shouldn’t necessarily be punishing or reprimanding, but you should let your team know what has happened – and what the next steps look like.

Goal setting guidance

Goal setting is an important – if not essential – part of doing business. Without concrete goals and tracking, you’re unlikely to move in the right direction – if you move at all.

You can manage setting, measuring, and resetting business goals yourself, but it can also be helpful to get some insight from an expert. Sometimes, an outsider can see what your business needs more easily than you can when you’re in the thick of it. This is particularly true when it comes to the big-picture planning – like strategic direction or succession plans.

That’s why working with a business coach or specialist – like the Thrive CA team – can be so valuable. We can help you set realistic goals, keep you on track throughout the year, and help with tracking as well. We’ve worked with so many businesses – from small to large, start-up to well established – that we know what’s likely to work, and what isn’t.

Ready to review your goals for the year? Talk to the team at Thrive CA.