It’s common to create a plan for a full year, but it takes a long time to create and by the time you’re halfway through the year, so much has changed that the plan often needs re-building. You could plan one month at a time, but a single month isn’t enough to achieve much significance.
Planning a full 90-days at a time is long enough to achieve significant large goals, yet short enough to stay focused. When starting work on a goal, all that’s guaranteed is that it will take time and, probably, money; it’s usually only when a goal is completed that the benefit is seen. Hence it’s extremely important to complete goals, not just start them!
Everyone knows how hard it is to break bad habits – just ask a smoker! But good habits can be just as hard to break… so we encourage you to create a new good habit – invest a full day every quarter to work ON your business and plan the next 90 days of significant goals and break them into weekly actions. This makes it easy to complete and track progress.
It’s important to choose the right mix of goals every 90-days to ensure that your business will drive forward in the ways you want it to. Below is some guidance that we’ve learnt from experience working with tens of thousands of businesses worldwide.
Focus on Profit
Focusing on profit is hardly a secret, but it’s very easy to get distracted. You’ll see lots of topics such as vision, culture, rules of the game, and lots of other great things that every great business needs. But many of these things are important in the medium and long-term, not the shorter term; The focus all of the time needs to be on increasing profit.
Every quarter, even if you have one goal focused on the long-term aspects, it’s very important to have even more goals focused on profit growth. And ideally, profit growth that you’ll see before the end of the quarter.
There are many topics that can focus on profit growth. Here’s a shortlist of ideas:
- Sell more products and services to your existing customers
- Find more new customers (target a specific number)
- Increase prices, increase margin, or both
- Systemise to increase productivity and therefore £/hour
- Change the mix of products to increase the average sale value
- Increase the range of products
- Add services such as delivery, maintenance, training, etc.
If you need more ideas, just ask; we have lists of them in different categories.
Choose leveraged goals
The principle of leverage is all about getting out a multiple of what you put in. Good marketing is leveraged: invest £1,000 and get £5,000 of sales as a result. Creating systems is also leveraged. By investing a few hours in a clear system, you can save many hours of skilled labour and reduce time and money wasted on errors. Working on time management topics can also be leveraged: invest an hour in better organising your time and save several hours every week forevermore. And planning is definitely leveraged: invest a day in planning and achieve a lot more of the right outcomes than you ever achieved without the right plan! We refer to this principle as leverage.
As you choose the goals to work on during the next quarter, pause to ask yourself, “is this leveraged?“. If you can see that you clearly get out a lot more than you need to put in, it’s probably a good leveraged activity.
The opposite of a leveraged goal is one that involves doing some work and getting a result that achieves only an equivalent of the input – or even less. Many of the activities involved in working IN the business lack leverage. Spend an hour on bookkeeping, and you have little business growth to show for it. But spend an hour finding a good bookkeeper to outsource the work to, and you’ll save valuable hours every week forever. Your time is valuable and needs to be focused on leveraged activities. Working in this way will ensure greater progress than on goals that merely keep up with demand. Leverage leads to growth.
Make it a habit
Set a date for your 90-day planning for a rolling year ahead. Ensure that every one necessary is available on the day to attend and to focus on the planning. Keep it in perspective – we’re recommending that out of approximately 200 working days per year, you invest just 4 in the planning of the other 200! This is important – make it a non-negotiable.