The start of each year is a great time to set objectives (and many would say it is an essential time to do this). So the first MBF meeting of 2011 looked at how to set objectives and how to make them realistic. Chris Lilly had prepared a Setting Realistic Objectives – MBF meeting 04.01.11 which gives many useful pointers and sparked off the discussions.
A number of useful tips and key points were raised and discussed:
- SMART : a very useful mnemonic: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based. It can be helpful to make “R” stand for “Resourced” rather than “Realistic” since “Realistic” is very close to “Achievable”
- Research has shown that writing down your plans gives you a much better chance of achieving them. It forces you to be specific and focuses your mind more
- In most companies, plans are shared and discussed and so benefit from several people’s insight and review. Sole traders or single person companies do not have colleagues on whom to test plans, so they would benefit from discussing their plans with mentors, family, friends or anyone who can provide constructive criticism and support. Someone else from MBF could be the ideal person
- Check that objectives are realistic by planning the steps necessary to achieve them e.g. for an annual plan, what you have to achieve in the first quarter, the second quarter and the second six months. Break down each quarter into months and maybe the months into weeks until you have identified first steps which you feel confident of achieving
- Objectives need to be reviewed. Another advantage of breaking down plans into smaller steps is that it makes the reviews easier. Also, if you have shared your objectives with someone else, that person can help encourage you and discuss your progress at regular intervals, or whenever you need
- Put your written objectives somewhere where you will often see them – on a whiteboard on the wall, on a piece of paper, in front of your diary – you can choose, as long as it means that it brings the objectives to mind and re-focuses you when work becomes complicated
Both Clyde Young and Chris Lilly offered example of one page plan outlines. Thanks to both of them for submitting their templates. Click to see or download Clyde’s One Page Business Plan Example and / or Chris’s One Page Business Pitch Outline (which is particularly relevant for funding).
Everybody at the meeting agreed on the benefits of a business plan. Now it is time to get down to writing one. Let’s see how much progress we have made at the February meeting.