3 Steps to Setting Your Business Expectations in 2016

expectationsAs a business owner, you may have already set your business expectations in December. If you haven’t, January is a great time to set your expectations, plan how to achieve them, and begin execution.

Like setting a personal New Year’s resolution, we need to be realistic about setting our business expectations. Set them high, but not so high that they are impractical or unreachable but just high enough so your team has to stretch a little to get there. Stretching is good; as long as it is handled with strong leadership and a well thought-out plan.

Setting expectations is one of the basic fundamentals of management; yet, many business owners and CEOs fail to do this very important step effectively. Setting expectations requires planning and communicating your plan to your team.

Be Realistic

To create realistic expectations, you’ll need to rely on your previous performance. For example, if you usually have 10% growth, then setting an expectation of 40% growth may not be realistic. Set an expectation that exceeds what you know you can achieve, but also encourages you to stretch to achieve it. If you are starting a new business or going into a new market / selling a new product, then you do not have previous performance results to rely on, but you can do some research to understand how these markets and products usually perform and set an obtainable goal that is not discouraging but high enough to help you get established.

Create a Plan

Once you know what you want to achieve, the next step is to create a plan to achieve this. Break your expectation down into smaller, more manageable parts that have actionable items.

For example, if your goal is to grow your business by 25%, you’ll need to ask yourself:

  1. Where will I get these new revenues from – existing customers or new customers?
  2. If it is from existing customers, which ones? How will you get the new business from them e.g. a marketing campaign targeting a new service/product?
  3. If it is new customers, how are you going to find them and market to them?
  4. What staff resources do I need to achieve this?
  5. How can you increase customer knowledge of your new service/product e.g. online advertising, brochures, your website?

Track Your Progress

Whether through Salesforce or other CRM platforms, you’ll need to keep track and monitor your progress towards meeting your expectations. For example, if you are planning on meeting your expectation by obtaining new clients, then you need to see how many new leads are being generated per week/month and how many result in a sale or new client. If there is no progress by the end of the first quarter, then you might want to look at your resources and your methods.

In my 20+ years of providing business advice to hundreds of business owners, I have learned that achieving the “impossible” is usually actually possible with hard work, dedication, and creativity, and setting ourselves up for success involves first creating realistic expectations. Every time I see a business do this, they’ve actually surpassed what once seemed impossible!