Happy New (Financial) Year! 4 questions to ask to help make it your best yet.
Congratulations! You made it through another financial year. I’m not sure how you feel, but I think they seem to go quicker each year.
For many the new financial year will be a case of “same old, same old” … same old business methods, same old profit (or lack thereof), same old business hours (usually too many) and same old problems.
But it doesn’t need to be this way!
The beginning of a new financial year is the perfect time to reflect on what you’ve achieved over the past year and work out what you would like to achieve over the next year.
The process doesn’t need to be an extensive one – where you set aside days of brainstorming, analysing and ‘inward thinking’ – it can be done by simply asking yourself the following questions:
- Why did you go into business?
- What do you want to achieve by being in business ( e.g more money in your pocket, more flexibility, more work-life balance)?
- What currently frustrates me with my business? And,
- What opportunities am I not taking advantage of?
The choice is yours.
Once we know why you’re in business, what you want to achieve, what frustrations you have and what your opportunities are, we can either:
- Continue as is … and be in the ‘same old’ situation next year; or
- Identify what will make the business better and set out to change it.
What’s standing in your way?
The two biggest obstacles that people face when making change are:
- I don’t know where to start or how to fix it
We all face this problem and often the best way to get help is to ask people you know in other businesses, associations, or friends in similar businesses. In February, last year I worked through a couple of issues I was trying to resolve just by chatting to another accountant at a conference … over a whiskey between 11pm and 1am!
- I don’t have the time
This is probably the biggest obstacle I see. As business owners, we are caught up in the day-to-day running of our businesses and keep putting off any change to another day rather than setting aside some time to fix it now. You may need to give up a Saturday to resolve it, but if sacrificing one day could make the next year better, isn’t it worth it?
It’s time to set some goals
I can already hear the groans of “why?” and, “this sounds like work”.
Remember there is no downside to setting goals. If you make even a small amount of progress you’ll be better off, and if you don’t achieve them, you will be no worse off than you are!
Setting goals for your business helps you focus your attention on a desired outcome, whether that be profitability, less working hours (or working more efficiently) or other things that you would like to achieve.
They also need to be yourgoals; not just what others are doing. Different people want to achieve different things for their business, time and family. Make sure yours are set around what is important to you.
The old S.M.A.R.T analogy
The advice may be old, but it is good. When setting your goals, to be effective, then need to meet the following 4 criteria:
Be specific in WHAT you want to achieve. For example, ‘to be more profitable’ is not specific!
The more specific you are, the greater your chance of achieving them. Questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives could include:
- What exactly do I want to achieve?
- With whom?
- Why exactly do I want to reach this goal?
How will you know if you have reached your goal? What does it look or feel like? A simple example is if your goal is to reduce your working hours to say 40 per week, this can be measured by recording when you arrive at work and when you leave.
- Achievable and Realistic
Don’t set the benchmark too high. Your goals need to be something you can achieve within the timeframe you set and match your capabilities. For instance, if you want to remain a sole trader and make $500,000 profit … this probably isn’t realistic!
Set a deadline or you will keep putting it off. Setting a time-frame also allows you to see how you are progressing during the year towards the goal and make any adjustments to your strategy along the way, to help you get there.
I follow my own advice
At this time of the year in my own business, while there is always something to do, I do take my own advice and take time to reflect on the past year and plan to make sure next year is better.
What are your plans to make the next 12 months better? How can we help you make them reality?