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A Great Success Plan, Part 3

We have been reviewing the key components of a well-balanced plan for the success of your business. A good plan should provide you with the roadmap of how you will take your business to your ideal destination. Your plan is most powerful when it answers a set of key questions, several of which we covered in the first two articles in this series. If you missed them, click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.

Part 1 dealt with answering this critical question: what do you want, and when? You will often see this defined as a vision for the business, a statement or two that defines the end result in quantifiable and measurable ways. Part 2 focused on determining the ‘why’ behind your business, and the importance of being able to clearly define and communicate this. Often called a mission, this articulates to your ideal customers, employees and the marketplace just what makes you tick, and what makes the business unique. These two components involve big ideas, defining where you want your company to go and why. Steven Covey described this as starting with the end in mind. What are the outcomes you seek, and why does your business exist?

The process of accomplishing your vision by fulfilling your mission occurs over time, and will undoubtedly require course corrections along the way. This takes us to the next component.

The great sales and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar often challenged his audiences to not “become a wandering generality”, but to “Be a meaningful specific.”  Know what you want to achieve in very specific terms and have targets and time frames in writing to help you accomplish them. People who have vague ideas, with no target dates, never get to the finish line.

When you know precisely where you are headed, and what it will take to get there, how do you know that you are on track along the way? By creating and tracking your progress against specific metrics and objectives. Well-defined objectives in your success plan should focus resources on getting the results that are necessary to achieve the vision you worked hard to define. Rather than waiting until the end of a multi-year time period to see if you made it, objectives help define a set of measurable and specific goals that keep you on target. It has been said that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and objectives are those key metrics that will make or break your plan.

Objectives help answer the question: What results will we measure? Objectives are a combination of incremental goals and targets, productivity and development metrics that, when measured accurately and consistently, allow for the crucial course corrections necessary for long-term success.

What should be included in Objectives? Financial goals are top priority. Revenue and profitability targets are fundamental, but there are many other areas that can be included. Sales productivity metrics, marketing measurements, operations, human resources, research & development, manufacturing and others can and should be considered. The owners of the business should consider work-life balance issues, personal income goals among others.  Keep in mind: there are far more things to measure than you have time for, so be sure to narrow your objectives down to a set of the most critical, without which the outcome would be uncertain.

Think about what you would like to celebrate at the end of each year in the plan. What milestones are most crucial to achieving your dream for your business? Create your own set of metrics for which you will hold yourself and the business accountable, track against them regularly, and commit to making necessary changes and adjustments to keep you on course.