How to set up goals and milestones for your business
There is an old saying that if you fail to have a vision for your business, then your plan is only but a dream. Besides, your plan must depend on a vision without it then it becomes drudgery. However, a vision that has a plan can change the world.
Long – term sustainability of a business must be formed on both short-term and long-term visions: showing where you would like your business to go. I am not telling you anything new but it is a statement your business has already inscribed. Besides, you already know that you need a vision.
With the long-term vision in place, you then need to pursue opportunities available in your industry. The second part involves reversing your vision by breaking it into bite-size. It is easier to achieve your big goals when you come up with milestones and smaller goals. Let us say you come up with a long-term goal to lose some weight by 20 kilograms this year. You are likely to achieve this long-term goal if you came up with milestones or small goal; losing a 0.24 kg every single week.
You can apply the same logic in your business. To make your business become successful, you need to visualize the end vision and then work backwards. In specific, you need to break down our long-term goal into bite-size goals then document them as part of the business plan: a detailed road map that shows strategies to achieve your business objectives.
How Do You Reverse Your End-Game Vision?
Reversing an end game vision refers to procedures for identifying how you can create an existing product. In the case of a product, for instance, the procedures involve analysing such a product when considering the best approach you could use to remake it. In this case, we are looking at the best way to reverse engineer your business. Therefore, it involves appropriate steps to undertake and the specific goals that you need to achieve your vision.
If you have a five-year goal to record revenue of Ksh 2 million, you should also have in place specific assets to achieve your long-term goal. Better still, you might have a long-term goal of developing five new products or services or gaining other five distributors for your products. For you to reverse engineer this goal, you need to work backwards. Some questions that you need to answer at this point are; how will your business look like in four years, three years, two years, one year, six months, three months, and finally one month? In this case, therefore, it is important to come up with bite-size goals and milestones that you and your team can achieve within shorter periods.
That is what I call bite-size goals. However, you need to acknowledge that businesses never achieve a linear growth rate. While you intend to achieve revenue of Ksh. 2 million over a five-year period and Ksh. 0.4 million per year, you might not achieve this in your first year of operation. Your business might start by recording smaller revenues over the first two years as you put in place-required assets. In later years, however, your business will need to attain a revenue of over Ksh 0.4 million.
The growth of M-Pesa revenue over a five-year period beginning 2009–2013 offers a perfect example. In 2009, the company recorded a revenue of Ksh 0.25 billion. Then the revenue increased by two-thirds to hit Ksh, 0.41 billion in 2010.[i] Safaricom then came up with specific strategies to achieve yearly small goals. According to the then company CEO–Bob Collymore, he reiterated that “To achieve these results, we sharpened our focus on putting our customers’ first, delivering relevant products and services, and organizational effectiveness; a well-executed a strategy considering the challenging business climate last year.”[ii]
Break Your Long-Term Goals into Bitesize Goals
Breaking long-term goals into smaller goals that cover either monthly, quarterly can become more specific and achievable. If you have a five-year long-term goal to introduce three products in the market, then you need to have a yearly goal of introducing a product. Your business could consider the first goal to conduct a market survey from customers to help understand characteristics of the new product in terms of features, pricing, packaging and benefits they would like to see from the final product. The next goal in the second year could be to conduct a survey that segments the market to understand the profile of customers your business will market the new products to and associated marketing strategy.
Does your business have goals to complete this year? When you write the goals that you would want your company to accomplish over the next one year, you need to become rigorous, just in the same way you did when you were designing your initial long-term strategy. Visualise yourself in the next one year, looking back to doing what your company achieved. What are some things that you would like your company to have achieved? Do are the assets or have financial metrics will you have achieved. Your response to these questions and others not mentioned here will become your one-year goal or vision.
Achievement of one-year goals will become a driving force closer to achieving your long-term goals. Doing this will ensure that your all teams in different departments given the responsibility to accomplish yearly goals become focused on where to spend their efforts. This will be a good sign of working towards building a business and not merely administering or operating for the sake of it.
I pointed out in the introduction section of this article that failure to have a vision for your business is a plan to fail. However, would happen if you had a vision but your business kept experiencing new ideas. Does that mean that you also keep shifting away from your initial goal? Remember, your one-year goal is part of the bite-size goals to achieve your five-year goal. I would discourage you from being swayed by anything that comes into your company in the form of new ideas. Conducting regular modification to the initial goal forms one source of failure for a majority of businesses and entrepreneurs. Businesses that do this have failed to achieve their end goal.
While implementing set out goals, entrepreneurs and business owners are likely to experience what I call shiny objective syndrome. In one of his work, David says that this condition occurs when entrepreneurs create new opportunities or learn about new opportunities like an interesting strategy, a tactic, or an idea that sways you from your initial strategy or goals already laid down.[iii]
While such opportunities might not be bad, they might not be worth pursuing at the time when your team is already focused on achieving short-yearly goals. The most effective approach to consider them if you have to is to write them down on a paper but never start acting on them immediately. You only consider such an idea and deliberate on it in the next meeting.
Quarterly and Monthly Goals
Just in the same way that you created yearly short-term goals consider using quarterly or monthly goals. Remember, just as I talked about reverse engineering of a long-term goal such as introducing three new products (services) to your customers, you also need to understand what your business needs to accomplish over the next quarter or one month. Would it be appropriate for your business to have one-year short-term goals or quarterly/monthly goals?
Shorter periods such as one month give entrepreneurs appropriate time to test the course of the goal and come up with necessary corrective measures. Imagine taking a whole year to test whether your company achieved a goal? Short time gives entrepreneurs an adaptive spirit to gain experience in setting achievable goals. In addition, companies are different in nature. While a goal might only require a few assets to complete, another company might have a task that requires extensive investment in an asset before commencement. Overall, always consider the needed assets to complete a task.
Growing a business depends on well-defined short- and long-term goals. Does one of your goals involve conducting market research through survey, observation, product testing, and competitive analysis, reach out through our experts for a partnership?
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[i] John Gachuri (May 12, 2014). Safaricom future value linked to M-Pesa growth. https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/markets/capital/Safaricom-future-value-linked-to-M-Pesa-growth/4259442-2312282-fmonjf/index.html
[ii] Safaricom (May 09, 2018). Safaricom maintains a high growth momentum. https://newsroom.safaricom.co.ke/safaricom-maintains-high-growth-momentum/
[iii] Dave Lavinsky (2012). Start at the end: How companies can grow bigger and faster by reversing their business plan. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.