Achieving Your Small Business Goals

So, you are in small business and you are exhausted.

Of course you are; you are the marketing expert, the financial controller, the mentor, the HR manager, the operations manager, the purchasing clerk, the debt collector and the worker.

It’s not simple to run a small business and that’s why so many start the journey and fail. In fact, it has been recorded by the Bureau of statistics that 60% of small businesses cease to operate within the first three years.

ASIC provided a report on 2011-12 insolvencies, finding that 44% suffered poor strategic management, 40% had inadequate cash flow and 33% suffered from trading losses.

Those that succeed beyond the three-year startup, what do they do differently?

I would suggest that they are goal setters. One of the first goals they would set is the revenue target. Of course, careful measurement of expenditure will give a starting point of the minimum revenue target but a healthy profit on that will allow the business to grow further. This is commonly known as “the break-even point.” The successful business owner might not be happy with their first attempt, or their second attempt, but they will keep gathering knowledge and ideas from many sources to enable them to try something different each time until they find the method that works. Failing is okay, as long as we learn from it and try again doing something differently.

The successful business owners are happy to work hard at finding a way to achieve the goal. To them it is all about the journey, what they learn about themselves and the people around them is as important to them as achieving the goal.

Everyone can learn the art of setting and achieving goals. A good place to start is to follow these four simple steps;

  1. Evaluate your starting point; is the current point okay or would you prefer to be somewhere else?
  2. Dream of what success looks like to you. It is different for everyone.
  3. Make each goal a SMART goal; Specific, Measurable, Realistic and Time sensitive.

Specific; put a number to it, for example I want to increase sales by 20% within a 12-month period.

Measurable; increasing sales or staff numbers are measurable but increasing your personal satisfaction is vague and difficult to measure. The measurement must be specific.

Attainable; if you are on the path to a really big goal, break it down into a series of smaller goals- the stepping stone approach.

Realistic; keep it real. If a 20% increase in sales within a 12-month period is too far off, bring it back to a realistic goal, say 5% increase each year for 4 years.

Time Sensitive – give yourself sufficient time, but put a limit to it. Ninety days should give you time to obtain the knowledge and attempt the goal, but not so long that you leave it to the last month to put everything in place. Too long a time frame and human nature dictates that the majority of us will not do anything straight away. If it is a 12-month end period for the goal, again break it down into 90-day efforts or small steps.

  1. Have accountability. Find someone to share your goals with, and check in with them regularly to voice your journey. If you are not naturally a goal setter and you don’t find that person to check in with, then you may find you lack the focus to achieve the goal to your full potential.

If you want to be serious about improving the business then make sure you set some time aside, without technology and distractions, on a regular basis and work out what needs to happen. You will not always be the best one to get the job done; in those circumstances delegate to either a staff member, a family member or hire a contractor or professional. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you are the only one that can and will work towards your vision of success.

Helping people achieve their goals is one of the things I love doing most in my business. Fortunately, at Crowe Horwath there is a huge network of specialists that can be drawn upon to work with you to ensure that you are in the best position to achieve your goals. Strategy and knowledge is key and we can help you with both.

If you would like further information or support, please contact your adviser. Alternatively, feel free to reach out to me directly [email protected]

Lisa Daw 

Senior Partner-Business Services

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