For the past several weeks we have been talking about goals: Why Goal-Setting Matters for Veg Professionals, The Impact Goal-Setting Can Have On Your Veg Business, and Thinking About Your Goal Setting Process. In other words, we’ve been looking at the whys of goal setting – the big picture. This week we want to get into the HOW. These are the nitty gritty details that will take you step-by-step through the process of Getting It Done, and today, we’re starting with the planning process of goal setting.
Let’s get started. There are three different ways that you can set your goals. Most people are in one of three stages in the life of their business, and I’m going to address each one of these buckets:
If this is your first year in business, or if you have been in business longer, but you’re struggling – meaning things have not been happening the way you want – I’d like to recommend the approach in Column 1: Newbie.
What you’re really trying to do if you are in this bucket is get started with setting goals. If this is you, start by creating one goal per quarter. I always love it when people can do three-to-five year planning, but if you’re new, don’t stretch yourself. It’s more important to have some success, and to get good at setting and accomplishing goals. Because once you get good at that process, you will do better at planning and achieving longer-term and bigger goals.
Keep in mind that if you are having success with the planning at the Newbie stage, you can jump up to Average or Advanced at any time – because once you start to set goals and see success, it’s going to be very easy for you to add more goals. Having said that, make sure you start with something manageable. Start with something and actually accomplish it before moving forward and adding more goals. You know that old adage success breeds success? That applies to goal-setting and achieving too, so make sure you give yourself a chance to succeed.
If you start by picking one goal per quarter that means each goal is going to be on a 90-day plan, so you’re taking your goals and action plans and making them very tight, and that’s going to allow you to have a clearer vision of where you want to be at the end of that 90 days. This will help you to stay focused, which is very important in the early stages of a business. It should take you about 2 hours to do this exercise. This is a great thing to do as weekend work – an hour on a Saturday, and an hour on a Sunday, and you should have your goals.
The Average bucket is for anyone who’s been in business for a year or two. At this point you’ve probably got a good process down of setting and achieving goals, but what I want to do is challenge you to look at things on a longer-term basis. I want you to start looking at things other than the immediate — if you have a six- or 12-month project, what does that look like?
A good place to start is to look at your goals in three-, six- and 12-month increments. This gives you practice in understanding what type of goals are bigger, long-term, and take some time to build, versus shorter-term goals that are achievable in the coming months. Here you strike a balance between a short-term approach and a long-term approach, getting some experience in building your business using both of these processes. The other thing you need to make sure you are doing at this point is recording monthly milestones. Because you’re looking at things on a monthly basis, you will make sure everything stays on target, and that no project is left on the sidelines.
At the Average stage, planning should be about a four-hour process.You could take longer, but it’s most important that you get it on paper, and you can continue to refine it over the year. I don’t recommend doing all four hours in one sitting – it’s just too much. Come back to it, break it up. Often people in this bucket have a couple of people on their team, so it may be the case that you are brainstorming on your own, coming up with ideas, reviewing it with your team, and then going back and refining your plan.
Bucket 3 is for people who have been in business for more than two, three or four years. You’re in a place where you’ve got the basics of goal setting and accomplishing down, but what you’re really looking for are game changers in your business. You’re looking for things that will take your business to a completely new level. If that’s the case I want you to dream bigger. I want you to brainstorm bigger. I want you to think of goal setting in terms of a three-year path as opposed to a monthly basis.
This means looking at what you need to do this year and next year to build for the plans you have in year three. A lot of times when businesses get bigger and stronger, or as a business’s growth plans and goals become heftier, there are external factors that are required to ensure success. It’s important to consider the building blocks – maybe it’s a tool that you’ll need to put in place, maybe it’s data you’re going to have to collect, maybe it’s a platform you’re going to have to build – maybe it’s a product you’re going to be launching, but you have to get the manufacturing in place first. So, what are the building blocks that have to happen to get you where you want to be a year from now, two years from now, three years from now?
In the Advanced stage, you’re going to start to monitor your goals on a quarterly basis. You’re still going to have some short-term goals as well, and you need to make sure you not only have a standard rhythm around this, but also that you’re looking much further out. You’re going to be much more strategic at this point, not focusing only on the short-term. As you might expect the process at this stage takes a bit longer – you’re looking at six to eight hours. You could spend a week on this, but remember, it’s most important to start to accomplish something, and not to get caught up in the process – spend your time on the action side of things.
Getting It Done: The Planning Process is part four of a series of articles that we are publishing on Setting Goals For Your Veg Business based on a Vegan Mainstream webinar, which you can watch for free here. Look for part five next week!