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Eight steps to get you to the top

John Nelligan


Achieving your aspirations when running a business is easier said than done.

Many of us lose sight of our personal goals when continuously focusing on our organisations, concentrating more on the achievement of business objectives rather than on our own.

My wife is always reminding me, “What’s the point of climbing a mountain if you don’t stop on the way up, turn round and enjoy the view?”

Therefore in this respect, it’s time to take a step back and focus on your personal aspirations.

Your business is an incredible resource for aiding the achievement of these goals – use it to your advantage.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” Henry Ford

 With this in mind, I thought I would share some helpful tips to aid the achievement of these objectives:

1. First and foremost, ensure that you set a personal aspiration.

This is not a business aspiration, but a goal that is personal to you.

It could be that special extended holiday to India you yearn for with your partner; or having more time off each week to be with the family; maybe a new car or a skiing trip with friends this winter; maybe even a holiday home.

For me, it’s achieving early retirement at 57, then spending time travelling with my wife and conquering some more Wainwrights and Munros while I’m still fit enough to do so.

Ultimately, to be able to achieve most of the things you want in life, you will need money to live on and to treat yourself. In really simplistic terms, owning a business is about putting money in the bank.

2. The next step is to put a “£” on it!

A special holiday would be, say, £7,500 per person; a new car, £24,000; that retirement holiday home, £250,000.

In my case, it’s building a large enough pension pot to allow me to draw down some income well before I get to the state pension age – 67 for me!

If you were born in or after April 1970 retirement will be at 68 and likely to be 70 or more for many just starting out in their careers.

Could you wait that long and to that age to fulfil your aspirations?

3. Then set yourself a realistic timescale to achieve that personal goal, ie will it take three, five or even 10 years to achieve?

I’m currently supporting a business owner who set a five-year plan to exit his business and retire, we are 18 months in and realistically a good year ahead of schedule.

Interestingly, as he can see the end in sight, he is eager to accelerate the progress.

4. Top tip! Visualise your dream

Have a picture of your dream on the office wall, fridge door or as a screensaver on your phone or computer.

Imagine your personal goal is within reach and keep sensing the feeling of achievement.

This will help you to focus on the tasks at hand and remind you why you’re working the long hours and why you’re going through any pain to get there.

5. Break the value required into bite-sized chunks, by months over the period you set.

Then, stretch this monetary target by 10-20 per cent.

For instance, if you need to generate an extra £1,000 net profit per month from your business over the next 24 months to buy that new car, set yourself a target of £1,200 per month.

By setting a stretched target, you may well achieve your goal early.

Now that would be a great feeling and sense of achievement! We have a target and the determination to achieve it.

However, the next task is key and the most important: switch your mindset and focus within your business to achieve your goal.

6. Create actions that are S.M.A.R.T. to achieve the financial goals required.

This could be completing two extra sales calls per day, generating an extra order per week; producing five extra products per week; reducing manufacture cost or time involved in tasks by five percent within the next month.

7. Ensure you involve all your employees and share your vision, plans and the challenges with them.

Ultimately, it is your employees who will deliver your objectives and therefore help you to achieve that personal aspiration.

8. Delegate tasks to those who are best suited to complete them.

Give responsibility and ownership for the actions and activities needed to increase the sales; improve productivity or gain efficiencies to drive additional bottom line profit.

If you have capability gaps within the business, consider re-training existing staff, or recruit externally for the knowledge and skillset required to develop the potential you require. You may even consider outsourcing.

By sharing your vision, plans and introducing change, then supporting your staff to help deliver set objectives, you should begin to see improvements within your business, resulting in increased net profit. The surplus takings will allow you to reward your staff and also reinvest in the business, thereby securing a solid foundation to allow you to realise your future personal aspirations.

At some point, you may even step away from the day-to-day earlier than you had originally planned and get to the top of that mountain earlier than anticipated.

One important thing to note is that you do need to achieve a balanced approach.

If the dream and target is too easy to achieve, you will never push yourself to drive change; in contrast, if the goal is too stretched and unrealistic, the chances are, you may even give up.

Just to add, my client’s business is currently generating 18 per cent more revenue and 22 per cent more profit than when we started planning in October 2016, allowing him to recruit the best people he can and improve systems and processes.

Our next step is to find his replacement by September 2018 and then begin to hand over and wind down his duties to allow him to achieve his personal goals.

“Achieving a goal is nothing. The getting there is everything.” Jules Michelet