Ten tips for setting objectives

The start of the year is a great time to sit back and reflect on personal and professional objectives.

The same applies for your businesses objectives. Take the time to reflect on the year ahead and set objectives while trying to anticipate some of the challenges you may face along the journey.

Setting these objectives can be a struggle, especially when you have misplaced that crystal ball, but there are a few key considerations which can really help. So here are our top ten tips for setting objectives:

1. Think Big 

Lift yourself out of the day to day trenches and think broader and longer-term about your business and personal goals.

2. Change is the new normal 

Push yourself to dig deep when thinking about your objectives even if this means undertaking fundamental change. Consider any change carefully but do not let the fear of change hold you back from unlocking your businesses’ potential.

3. Consider the external factors impacting on your business

Understand the external factors that influence your business, determine how they influence your business and try to gauge what these factors are doing at present. Is it the foreign currency, commodity price, that low balling competitor or a big shift in customer expectations and product requirements?

4. Be honest 

Do not assume that a potential shift in your market or and old machine breaking down will not happen to you. Be honest with the things that may not go to plan and how you plan to respond if they occur. Develop options A, B and C.

5. Keep it simple 

Do not overcomplicate the objective-setting process – short, sharp and a bit of gut instinct. Do not spend months trying to gaze into a crystal ball when your business shifts in a direction you did not want it to take.

6. How are you going to go about achieving your objectives? 

Develop specific plans on how you are going to go about achieving your objectives.

7. It’s not just about you

Engage with people you trust and respect to get a broad and fresh view. It might be your management team, trusted adviser or a contact with good commercial experience. If you have family members in your business, you should have a succession plan and you may wish to engage the next generation in helping to set the objectives.

8. How will you know if you achieve your objectives? 

Financial measures are fantastic but think more broadly as there may be specific nonfinancial measures that better represent the attainment of an objective. Some examples include labour efficiency, people growth, process throughput and even that new shiny car. As important it is to know what your end targets are, it is equally as important to set specific measures and targets to measure traction along the journey so you know you are heading in the right direction.

9. Capture the objectives in a succinct, clear and logical strategic business plan document 

Document your objectives, what you need to do to achieve them, how you know when they are achieved, the measures to track progress and what you will do to celebrate or learn when achieved in a strategic business plan.

10. Review, refresh and recalibrate 

Business does not operate in neat, fixed 12 months cycles of calendar or financial years. Business continually changes and evolves – so should your objectives and plans around how you are going to achieve them. Book time out in your calendar every three or six months to take a step back from the day-to-day operations to freshen your thinking and recalibrate (where needed) those objectives and associated plans.

The PwC Private Business team would love to hear what your objectives and plans are for the year and help you to convert these into a valuable business document. 

Please join us for a complimentary brainstorming session to talk through your commercial and personal goals, the plans you’ve got in place to achieve them and the challenges you’ll need to navigate along the way. Please get in touch to see how we can deliver real value by contacting suzi.woolfson@pwc.com