Part 5 - If You Plan It, They Will Come
By Gary Hart
Here we are at part five, the section where it all comes together. Up to this point we have examined the areas of your organization and have reviewed the relationships with your vendors and customers in depth. Now it is time to take all of this information and apply it to a short and long-term plan.
Your business short-term plan should apply to the immediate or upcoming year whereas your long-term plan will apply to years 2-5. The short-term plan is the most essential because it establishes the clearest and most achievable goals. Setting your short-term goals is not a complicated process nor does it take a lot of your time.
The first thing you need to realize is that your goals must be in writing. This simple act helps you clarify your goals and will allow you to visualize them more effectively. This process reinforces your goals, acts as a reminder and drives your goals deep into your organization. In fact, this is one of the most powerful strategies you can use to achieve your targets.
When you are writing your goals, keep the SMART concept in mind: Specific, Motivational, Action-oriented, Relevant to your situation, and Time-bound. For example, let's say you want to increase your sales by 25% compared to last year. First off you will want to be specific about your goal by stating, "We will increase sales by 25% partnering with the local car wash facilities." Remember, phrase your goals in the present tense and assume success. Don't say, "We want to." Say, "We will." This subtle technique tells your subconscious that you have already achieved your goal which means it will work at helping the goal become a reality. It will attract the people, places, and situations you need to achieve that goal.
Now that you have established the specifics, how will you achieve the goal? List the benefits you intend to receive by achieving each goal to start. This will keep you focused and strong particularly when you face the inevitable roadblocks and barriers. Detail every aspect such as, "We will offer commission to our car wash partners and also offer an additional incentive if they meet a minimum of 25 repair referrals per month." You must be clear and thorough in listing the steps it will take to achieve the goal.
Once you have listed out the steps, it is important to then act upon them. Take action. Don't procrastinate. All the planning in the world will not help you achieve your goals. You MUST take action and start within 24 hours of completing the short-term plan. This will set the wheels in motion and create the necessary momentum you need. I once heard a speaker state, "We are either moving toward or away from our goals." Develop the habit of taking action on a daily basis.
After you have started work on your short-term goals, it is now important to plan your long-term goals. Long-term goals are mostly made up of assumptions based on current fact mixed with a little old fashion wishful thinking. For instance, let's say we are doing well at our new plan to expand in to local car wash facilities. A good long-term plan would be to targer other captive areas such as movie theaters, valet stands, etc. Since we don't know much about them now, let alone know how much success the car wash plan will be, it is still important to visualize growth and to dream. Just as we did with the short-term goals, you will want to go through each step in the planning process even though it may be difficult to imagine years 2 through 5.
Here comes the hard part and the area I see most business owners and manager fail to address, review your goals each day. The more you can "see" success in your mind's eye, the more likely you can translate this into reality. Imagine a perfect picture and replay it frequently. Developing a picture board can help with this. This is a very effective tool that allows you to visualize the impact of achieving your goals. When my wife and I bought our first house, we clipped photographs and pictures of what we wanted our house to have and pasted them on to a large sheet of poster board. We hung this near the front door of our condo so we could see it every time we left or entered. We also created a thermometer of "down-payment savings" to help us track our progress. We had a clear deadline and were able to surpass this deadline by almost 30 days. I now keep track of my annual revenues, speaking engagements and book sales in the same manner. I post these sheets in my Microsoft Outlook where I can see them every day; they allow me to track my progress with a quick glance.
Achieving greatness is not that difficult. However, it does require discipline, focus and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish and where you want your business to be. Next week we will put together a business efficiency profile and see where potential problems may arise in our business and processes.
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