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If you’ve ever made goals for your business or for your life, you know how difficult they are to keep. You also know the joy that comes when you complete your goals and the stress and frustration that comes when you fail to make progress. The year slips by so quickly and without a plan in place to make your goals stick, you will likely find yourself at the end of the year wondering where all the time went.

As we close out the year, this month we are focusing on how to make your business goals stick.

Making your goals stick, of course, assumes that you’ve completed your planning for next year. If you haven’t, don’t worry, there’s still time. And if you need some help you may want to read our article from last month, when we asked 30 business owners about their plans. Each business owner was asked 2 questions: (1) What is your primary focus for 2017? and (2) What system will you put in place to ensure you accomplish this goal?

The results showed a lot of shared focuses, with 5 primary areas surfacing. Here’s a quick look:

  • 50% are focused on increasing revenue and improving cash flow
  • 30% are focused on hiring and staff development
  • 27% are focused on improving services
  • 17% are focused on moving into new markets
  • 17% are focused on improving processes and procedures

As you can see, there are some commonalities among business owners and I’m sure you can relate. You can read the full article here. And again, if you haven’t had a chance to start your planning, go back and read last month’s article for some motivation.

If you have already set your business goals, we are going to look at three exercises that will help them stick: delegation, outsourcing, and accountability.

Getting Started

Before you begin implementing your goals there a few tools to help evaluate the effectiveness of each goal. Your goals should be simple, concrete, and measurable.

A simple goal doesn’t mean you are cutting yourself short or aiming low. Rather, as Chip and Dan Heath explain in Made to Stick, it’s about “finding the core” of the goal and “stripping (it) down to its most critical essence.” We can setup excellent systems but if our goals are impossible to achieve at their core then we are doomed for failure. A simple goal is also concrete, meaning it’s easy to understand and remember. This is very important, especially if you have other team members involved in the accomplishment of your goals.

The final recommendation before getting started is mapping out how you will measure your success. Breaking down your goals into smaller, achievable steps is a great way to start. In order to accomplish a goal you will have to accomplish several sub-goals, or milestones.

So, let’s look at 3 exercises that will help make your business goals stick this year.

Exercise #1 in Making your Goals Stick: Delegation

Unfortunately, there’s only so much time available each day and for most of us that is spread across many responsibilities. So, how do we get everything done when our time is so limited?

It happens through delegation.

This has been one of the most important aspects of our business over the last few years and has been instrumental is allowing us to spend more time working on our business in areas such as staff development and internal processes and spend more time with our families.

One of the most difficult aspects of delegation is trust. You must be ok with handing off certain areas of your business to other people, which means you should also be in the habit of training your team and empowering them to make decisions. As you lay out your goals and break them into smaller sub-goals, spend time assessing the strengths of your team and determining which of your goals can be delegated.

Delegation also requires self-evaluation so that you can determine your weaknesses. You can’t do everything well, but you can hire team members with sharp skillsets that offset your weaknesses. Delegation is the process of trusting and empowering the people you’ve hired. You’ll find it to be a breath of fresh air and your team will feel valued. It’s a win-win.

Once you evaluate your goals, you may find that you don’t have the right team members to properly delegate every aspect of it. This is where outsourcing can be very valuable.

Exercise #2 in Making your Plan Stick: Outsourcing

Once you’ve determined who will be responsible for each aspect of your goal, you may find that some areas will be better achieved through outsourcing. As you evaluate the skillsets of your team, is there anything they are lacking? If so, this is a good time to consider outsourcing.

It’s also important to think through the best uses of your time. While you may be capable of managing your social media, is there something else your time could be spent on that generates a higher value to your company? Outsourcing not only frees up your time to focus on your greatest strengths, but it also expands your team. One of the best decisions we made was outsourcing our accounting. It freed up our time and also brought in an expert who could provide valuable information about our numbers and has led to us making much better decisions.

We also work with a lot of clients who outsource various aspects of their marketing to our firm, whether it’s social media, Google advertising, content development, web development, or design work.

Outsourcing can also cut costs. An outside company will often provide a higher level of service at a lower cost than if you were to hire someone internally.

Exercise #3 in Making your Plan Stick: Accountability

Each of these exercises are easy to understand but difficult to implement. They require trust, transparency, and reliance on other people. If there’s anything business owners struggle with it’s the relinquishment of control. We are natural leaders and for many of us, we created the business we are running. But, as we’ve already discussed, the key to making plans stick is getting others involved.

Accountability is the process of bringing in someone to help you stay on track who has permission to challenge you on your progress. This can be can be someone on your team or a colleague. Whoever it is, they need to have a good knowledge of your business and operations. Accountability is not about sharing the responsibility of the task but is simply about helping you stay on track.

As we mentioned earlier, your goals need to be simple, concrete, and measurable. Without this, it will be much more difficult to receive accountability from someone. So, how do we get started with accountability?

Picking an Accountability Partner for your Business

The first place to look is within your business. Do you have a business partner or a member of your leadership team that will be confident in holding you accountable? If so, this creates a natural partner as they will be aware of the company and the goals and are likely very familiar with the steps required to achieve them.

If you have a smaller team you may need to look outside of your company for accountability. Maybe you have a colleague that you trust or there is a local business consultant with a strong reputation. Once you have decided on a partner, it’s important to establish clear expectations and a meeting schedule.

Setting clear expectations will be much easier to do if your goals are measurable. This will establish the areas that need to be discussed to keep the overall plan on track.

You should meet with your partner at least once a month and the meeting should be focused on the progress of your goals. When you break down your main goal into smaller sub-goals it will add value and structure to your meetings.

Ready to Go?

Making your goals stick requires a lot of determination. Our time is limited and if this process is not a priority then the goals will likely not be achieved. Good luck on a fruitful and prosperous year! Now, go delegate, outsource, and find an accountability partner!

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