Once you have your SMART goals set-up, you now know what you need to do, and by when you need to do it, it’s now time to execute.
And this is where many of the best-laid plans crash and burn. Unless you now execute the goals you’ve set, you’ve likely wasted your time setting them. And if your business isn’t moving forward, where is it going?
“Having a vision for what you want is not enough. Vision without execution is hallucination.”— Thomas A. Edison
The times are changing
On the other hand, we often see many people blindly executing “something” every day. They do what they’ve always done, even if what they’ve always done is no longer working.
They make their cold calls, they send out direct mail, they manage customers in the same way, they don’t market online – they just stick to what worked five years ago. Then they only get the same results, they don’t change their approach but keep executing – working the numbers, but otherwise oblivious.
We’ve seen lots of action-oriented people ill-prepared and as a result, they don’t accomplish much of anything. We often see people focused on action, any action, but they don’t analyze what’s happened, what they’ve learned, or how to adjust and/or adapt.
Consequently, they fail to achieve their goals. Too often, we reinforce blind execution with our activity metrics, which hide the truth! People may achieve those goals, yet fail to accomplish anything.
So, how can we do better? Let’s look at four ways:
1. Share Your Goals
Many business owners have goals, some even write them down – but do they share these goals with their team, with their peers, or with their business coach?
In order for your goal to be tangible and achievable, you need to share them with stakeholders involved.
You might uncover what’s in the way of achieving them and have to ask yourself:
- Is one goal conflicting with another?
- Does the business owner understand the implications of each goal on the team?
- Is the priority correct?
- Do we have the resources to execute as planned?
- Is each goal congruent with our strategy, vision, mission and culture?
- Where are my blind spots?
Getting another knowledgeable person involved can add clarity, even if it’s just as a result of answering their questions. Having a team to support you is even better.
2. Analyze Your Results
What is the data telling us?
Data – what’s that really mean? Your business decisions should be driven by data.
The key to analyzing data is driven by the results it produces, so determine:
- What data are you collecting?
- Over what timeframe?
- Are you even asking the right questions?
- How do I know when diminishing returns are setting in?
Once you have some data, determine what is the trend?
Most entrepreneurs are terrific at running their businesses but are too close to the day-to-day operations to necessarily see the trends. Again, an outside or at least another perspective can provide some clarity.
Getting your business coach or mastermind group to stop you in your tracks and force you to consider what the data is telling you can be a scary, but a very enlightening experience! The right coach will offer you an assessment to see where you’re at.
3. Update Your Plan
Yes, it’s important to have an annual review of your strategic goals, looking at your results versus your expectations, etc. This may or may not coincide with your “annual meeting” with your accountant to review your financial results. But, that’s not enough…
If you only review your situation by looking in the rear-view mirror, you won’t be able to adapt if things change. That is why, as business coaches, we recommend that you go through the goal-setting exercise every quarter (we also recommend you meet with your accountant quarterly as well).
- You’re reviewing the accomplishments over the previous three months;
- Checking to see if those goals have been achieved;
- Reviewing the numbers and other metrics;
- Generally pausing to make sure you are on-track for your annual, 3-year and 5-year goals;
- And discovering what’s working and what needs to be changed?
It is at this point that you lay out the goals for the next quarter. Rinse and repeat.
By adopting this quarterly goal review discipline, it is far less likely that you’ll be surprised or unprepared if things change.
4. Be Open
One of the hardest things for us “Type A”, entrepreneurial, independent spirits to do, is to admit we don’t necessarily know everything about everything.
The most confident-appearing people that seem to have it all together can be so amazingly sure they know where they are going, that they drive their bus right off the cliff.
We have seen people that, without any doubt whatsoever, bet their business on the chance that certain events are going to unfold as they expected, or that certain trends would continue (or change). In their mind, there was “no way” that their particular future success would not appear.
What these business owners didn’t have was a coach or mastermind group to ask them the hard “what if?” questions, forcing them to consider alternative outcomes.
We have seen business owners literally saved from themselves by being asked hard questions at the right time.
One goal every owner should have is to get external validation for their assumptions. This can happen by being part of a mastermind group, by engaging a business coach, or just simply having the humility to ask others for input.
The hard part about all of this is that useful feedback requires a certain amount of confidential background and context and can’t really deliver benefits when only as part of a casual, short conversation.
Ready to start seeing the results you want? Get a coach to keep you on top of your game!