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7 tips for setting goals for your business plan

3-minute read

It's never a bad time to sit down with your team to set goals. A strategic plan with ambitious targets will help you grow, confront challenges and make adjustments to changing conditions.

“By setting goals, you mobilize your team and generate action,” says BDC Business Consultant Jean Joncas. “This is how you achieve your vision for the business.”

He offered some tips on how to plan and set goals for the year ahead.

1. Set measurable objectives

Setting financial and operational targets allows you to monitor your business’s progress through the year. They encourage you to hold yourself and your team accountable for your performance and push to reach your goals as the months unfold.

2. Plan your investments

Map out when, where and how you will invest to achieve your growth and efficiency goals. One important area to consider is boosting your commitment to technology. That’s an area where many Canadian businesses aren’t investing enough.

3. Target financing

Companies with ambitious goals often run into a roadblock when it comes to obtaining the money they need to grow, Joncas says. Plan now for how you’re going to finance projects such as adding technology, machinery or real estate so as not to exhaust your working capital. It’s never too early to meet with your banker to discuss your plans.

4. Look at your HR needs

Growing companies also often have trouble finding skilled labour. This is a good time to plan your staffing needs so you can get a head start on finding the best people. Also, take a hard look at whether you currently have the right people in the right positions. It’s not easy, but the beginning of the year is a good time to make necessary personnel changes.

5. Check your radar

Gather as much information as you can about the external environment: The outlook for the economy, changes in customer needs and tastes and your competitors’ strategic direction. “You want to both protect your market position and be in a position to seize opportunities as they present themselves,” says Joncas, who advises businesses in eastern Quebec, including the Quebec City area.

6. Look to improve

What projects can you plan for the coming year that will improve your performance and efficiency in such areas as financial management, operations, sales and marketing, HR and customer service? “You have to challenge yourself to examine how you are doing things,” Joncas says. “As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

7. Work with your partners

One way to improve your products, processes and management practices is to seek the help of your partners—business associates, customers and suppliers.

“Growing companies often want to do everything by themselves,” Joncas says. “But you can often get further by partnering and collaborating with others.”

While rigorous annual planning is essential for building a healthy business, Joncas cautions that entrepreneurs should guard against becoming too rigid.

“You have to maintain the flexibility to adjust to changing conditions and seize business opportunities as they arise during the year.”

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