June 12, 2015 Psychology of Success en_US If you have big dreams for your business this year, you'll need a plan of action to realize them. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/cas/dam/IMAGE/A391Gb8CJ/ac74a3e74b9775afb1d1fcdf7d971782.jpg https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/psychology-of-success/how-to-create-a-plan-to-reach-your-small-business-growth-goals How to Create a Plan to Reach Your Small Business Growth Goals
Psychology of Success

How to Create a Plan to Reach Your Small Business Growth Goals

By Suzanne Kearns June 12, 2015

Many business owners have lofty goals for their company, but not all accomplish them. If you have big dreams for your business this year, you’ll need a plan of action to realize them. Here are 5 steps that will help you reach your business goals.

Step One: Look Critically at Your Past Attempts

Before you begin working on your plan, it’s important that you take a look at your past efforts to set goals and determine what did and didn’t work. Doing this will prevent you from making the same mistakes and allow you to incorporate the new insight into your plan. For instance, if you have previously set goals to improve your cash flow but never achieved it, do a thorough analysis to determine why. Did you sufficiently cut your expenses? Did you increase your profit margins by raising prices or renegotiating your supplier contracts? Did you get serious about collecting your past due accounts receivable? Don’t just go on instinct and memory. Pull out the books and use the numbers to discover why your past attempts fell short.

Step Two: Decide on Specific Goals

Your next step is to decide on the goals you want to accomplish. Studies have shown specific goals result in higher performance, so you need to be detailed. For example, you can set a goal to sell your overdue accounts receivable to a factor within the next month, which will increase your cash flow. Another specific goal is to reduce your expenses by $500 a month by year’s end. For the best results, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based (S.M.A.R.T.). The two example goals listed above have all of these components.

Step Three: Establish the Necessary Steps for Each Goal and Set Deadlines

Now that you have a list of goals, it’s time to break them down into actionable steps. For instance, if you want to sell your accounts receivable to a factor, your steps might look like this:

  1. Gather up all accounts receivable older than three months
  2. Contact debtors one more time to ensure you can’t collect
  3. Research factors to find the best one
  4. Set an appointment or phone interview with chosen factor
  5. Negotiate for the best deal

Now do this for all of the goals in your plan, and don’t forget to assign a date to each step.

Step Four: Estimate the Cost for Each Step

Now it’s time to figure out the cost for each of your steps so you will know how much money to allocate to that goal. Some steps will only cost you in time, and you should estimate how much so you can include it on your schedule. On the other hand, if you intend to ask an employee to do the work, you should estimate how much it will cost to pay them to do the task. Other steps may also cost money. For instance, the first four steps listed in the above example would only take time if you do them yourself, but the fifth step has a financial cost — factor’s fees.

Step Five: Decide Who Will Accomplish Each Step and Assign Them Deadlines

Now that you have the basics of your plan, it’s time to determine who will accomplish each step and give them a finite amount of time to complete it. When you regularly review the progress being made on your goals, you will know with certainty whether or not your plan of action is working. If you find that it’s not, you should adjust the steps to increase your chances of reaching the goal. Make it easy for yourself and your employees by using goal tracking software like Goal-Buddy and GoalsOnTrack to keep track of the progress.

Remember, success doesn’t just happen by accident. When you have a business goal, you need to take strategic action to move towards it. Follow this process and you’re sure to make your goals a reality.

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Suzanne has been a full-time freelance writer for 20 years. She’s written for numerous business and financial publications such as Entrepreneur, Reason Magazine, Home Business Magazine, and Money Crashers. Read more