How to reach your business goals

There are business owners who continue to grow their business and always seem to go from strength to strength. Then there is everyone else who is well intentioned but struggle with the time to manage their business, let alone set goals and then work on achieving them.

It is a proven fact that most small to medium sized organisations do not have a written business plan. No documented business plan means that objectives and strategies are not captured, resulting in a business that lacks direction. In addition, an organisation without a business plan will often lack the confidence to solve their business issues. When business issues remain unresolved they can adversely affect cash flow, revenue and profitability.

The truth is that this lack of formal business planning is one of the major causes of business failure.

A business plan sets out what a business proposes to do and how it proposes to do it. Here are few practical steps to help create a powerful business plan to drive the success of your organisation.

Step 1 – Look at the strength and weaknesses of your competitors. By researching your competitors you are better equipped to understand why clients are attracted to your competitors (i.e. their strengths) and what gaps or niches exist in the market place (i.e. their weaknesses).

Step 2 – Outline the strengths and areas for improvement in your business.

Step 3 – Define the vision for your organisation.

Step 4 – Define your goals. These are areas you want to improve. Typically objectives tend to be financial, operational, business development, staff and IT related. Objectives should be quantifiable by an absolute amount, a percentage and have a specific timeframe for achievement.

Step 5 – Create the strategies which will deliver performance improvements, i.e. how your business will get there.

Step 6 – Identify a timeframe and owner for the achievement of each strategy.

The process of creating a business plan is more important than the document itself.

The process of business planning is beneficial because it gives you:

  • A chance to stop, reflect and learn from past mistakes or wins in your business.
  • An opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with members of the team.
  • A forum to think critically about goals, e.g. revenue and profit, and this results in targets being set which motivates the team to improve.

High-achievers in the small-to-medium size business sector admit that the turning point in their business was when they prepared their business plan.

Once you have created a sound plan, it is then essential to implement the plan with the support of the right process and people resources. In addition, it is essential to identify intervals for the review of performance against all objectives e.g. monthly, quarterly, annually. This will give feedback as to whether your strategies are working and give you an opportunity to change strategies if need be.

A well thought out business plan is the key to the long-term success of any business. Whether you are just starting a business, buying one already established or perhaps in need of extra finance for expansion you will need a business plan.

If you would like to create a business plan which will deliver the results you want or you'd like some perspective about what's really taking place in your organisation, pick up the phone and contact us now to take advantage of our FREE initial consultation.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Business planning is one of our most popular services as it is such an important part of driving business success. The following case study demonstrates the benefits of developing and executing a business plan.

What gets measured – gets managed and done!

One of our clients had been in practice for over 10 years and he had developed a successful business, but worked long hours and felt his overall return in profit and salary was not commensurate with his effort and time invested. He was also concerned that the hours he worked impeded spending quality time with his family. When he first contacted us his revenue was not increasing and his profitability was in decline.

When Best Practice Consulting began working with him, his plan was in his head and he informed us that he wanted: 'to deliver excellent service to his customers, have a well run and efficient practice, to make more profit and spend more time with his family'.

This information was used to develop a concise two page business plan which had measurable objectives and specific strategies.

With the assistance of some of his key staff, we implemented the strategies in the business plan and we have seen a dramatic change in his business revenue which increased 49% (or $845,508) and a substantial growth in operating profit - up 48% (or $229,305) over last year.

This is a great example of using a business plan to bring focus to the practice and deliver the saying 'what gets measured - gets managed and done!'

Execute your strategies or expire

"Don't fall short of your goals and discover how to address the SEVEN killers of successful strategy implementation"

Why is it that so many businesses fail to achieve their full potential? Our experience and, indeed, recent research for a book on eleven high performing Australian companies entitled 'The First Eleven' (by Huddard, Samuel, Heap and Cocks) shows that efficient and effective implementation of strategies leads to outstanding long term business performance.

Given that an organisation has a business plan and has developed the strategies to achieve the agreed objectives, there needs to be a desire to effectively and efficiently implement key activities. However, typically there are seven killers of successful strategy implementation:

1. Management inattention – Management develops the strategy but does not allocate adequate resources and processes, and does not follow up on progress.

2. A lack of documented processes – Management fails to document the processes to show how tasks need to be carried out.

3. Inadequate communication – Management often fail to clearly communicate what is to be achieved and what is required of staff. This can mean that staff do not understand the benefits of change and consequently can resist change. In addition, without a regular communication with management staff often stumble at various roadblocks and progress halts until advice is eventually obtained.

4. Poor project management skills – Essential tasks need to be broken down into a series of related projects with specific timelines.

5. A lack of performance goals and measures – Often there are inadequate means of measuring progress, and one cannot judge whether tactics need to changed to deliver the desired outcome.

6. Internal resource conflicts – Staff get diverted onto other activities, due to staff shortages and urgent requirements within the business. In addition, delays can occur when staff members do not work harmoniously together on a series of tasks.

7. A lack of skilled staff – Staff may not be trained and / or skilled in actually carrying out the implementation.

High performing businesses do implement their strategies well by addressing each of the above seven killers of successful implementation.

Achieving the desired goals will only be accomplished through careful planning, thoughtful strategy development, enthusiastic implementation and appropriate measurement.

Best Practice Consulting assists many businesses with success strategy implementation. If you would like your strategies to be implemented more effectively talk to one of our business coaches so that you can reach your goals faster.

The Secret to Employee Engagement

Are your staff giving 100% to the organisation? Do they feel valued and appreciated? Do they show-up each day with passion and purpose?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions – your organisation has an employee engagement problem. But don't worry - you are not alone. The Hewitt Best Employer Survey results suggest that engaging staff is a big challenge for most Australian organisations. According to their most recent survey – the national average for employee engagement is only 54%.

So why is employee engagement a problem? In Australia unemployment is running at historical lows, we are experiencing an unprecedented skills shortage in various sectors and many organisations have failed to create workplace environments which truly engage staff. These factors have resulted in a highly mobile workforce, which is costly to the organisation in terms of productivity and profit.

The secret to employee engagement is capturing the hearts and minds of your employees. The difficult part is discovering what truly inspires staff to perform above and beyond. Once you discover how to engage your staff the benefits include: a happy and healthy work environment, a more productive team and a more profitable business.

Here are ten tips on creating and sustaining employee engagement.

1. Let go of the negative thoughts you have about your employees. Each person in the team has unique knowledge, skills and something valuable to contribute. Rather than focussing on the weaknesses of a staff member it is important to focus on their strengths and place staff in positions where their strengths are best utilised.

2. Be nice to your staff. Noticing and acknowledging the contribution of your employees and treating them well will have a profound impact. However, staff usually forget compliments quickly, so it essential to give these out regularly and in an authentic way. Also be aware that people like to be noticed in different ways. Some prefer a quiet praise. Others prefer open acknowledgment in front of their peers.

3. Get to know your staff. Show an interest in your people and genuinely get to know them. Understanding the stress factors and motivational drivers for each staff member can be extremely useful in managing them. This will make you more approachable making you the first person they come to when there is a problem. In addition, introducing some light hearted activities into the workplace can change the tone and mood of the organisation.

4. Use clear and regular communication. Staff like to know 'what is going on and why', especially when changes are planned. Regular feedback to staff helps reduce damaging corridor gossip that can be an undercurrent of misinformation. In addition, it is essential to clearly communicate your expectations of staff so that they can be productive and meet targets.

5. Hold performance reviews. Staff are always keen to receive formal feedback on their progress. Using a twice yearly – 360 degree review process (i.e. feedback from superiors, peers, support staff and some clients) is ideal. The process is also a great way of formally acknowledging the contribution of staff. When staff do not receive feedback and do not see any future with the organisation, they quickly start to look for greener fields.

6. Equipping your staff with the right tools. Following a performance review, training needs should be identified and appropriate courses need to be selected for staff to undertake. Ongoing training programs show staff that the organisation is interested in and responsive to their needs for improvement. You also equip staff with the skills and tools to perform at their best.

7. Offer career progression. An important driver in keeping staff engaged is to offer a career development program for each staff member. Opportunities need to be identified for appropriate staff and they need to be groomed for positions via training and mentoring.

8. Provide inspiring leadership and give individual autonomy. When new employees join an organisation, leaders need to impart the values and aspirations of the business. Staff look to management for leadership and direction, but this does not mean they need to be monitored every step of the way. No one enjoys being micro-managed! Instead inspire excellence in your staff and allow them the freedom and autonomy to deliver on tasks.

9. Remuneration and incentives. So that salaries are fair they should be monitored on an ongoing basis to keep track of changes in the market for different job roles and experience levels. Employers should also adjust salaries yearly for those staff not changing their roles and responsibilities, to ensure staff don't fall behind. Many workplaces have also introduced incentive payments that are linked both to the person's individual performance and the overall performance of the organisation. The process for calculating incentive payments needs to be transparent and clearly communicated to staff. Incentives are an important recognition tool and a way of sharing the organisations success with staff due to their efforts.

10. Flexible working arrangements. Lifestyle and work-life balance are becoming important for today's workforce and employers need to adapt and offer greater flexibility. Some workplaces offer flexible working arrangements or have wellbeing and lifestyle programs in place, such as gym membership and cinema admission for their staff. These programs demonstrate the caring nature of the organisation.

Our experience with clients is that those organisations that have processes in place to manage the above tips are more successful because their staff are engaged and committed. Not surprisingly, their staff work harder, perform that extra 10%, accomplish more, are more loyal and speak positively about the organisation.

If you are worried your organisation suffers from an employee engagement problem or you'd like some perspective about what's really taking place in your organisation, contact us. The quicker you take action – the quicker one of our business coaches and consultants can help you develop practical solutions to improve your staff engagement and commitment.

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