Strategic planning and goal setting are incredibly important for businesses of all sizes, as well as for business owners themselves. This process should connect your goals with “why” that goal is important to the activities that people do within the company.
A good business coach will guide you through the goal setting process, facilitate the strategic planning process, and hold you accountable. I have found coaching, goal setting and the strategic planning process energizing while simultaneously creating focus, and a new year is a good time to implement plans to supercharge your business.
An Outside Perspective
Business consultants can come in many forms and offer different types of services, depending
on the phase of your company (startup, growth, mature, or preparing for a sale) and where you are in your career. Business consultants can work with a CEO or individuals directly to provide more personal and business coaching, or they can be hired to help identify weaknesses and recommend strategies and tactics to improve them.
Business consultants can help turn around a struggling business or can help an owner of a business prepare for sale. They can even work with your management team to help provide the support and guidance required to address issues and meet goals.
There are different types of coaching that are beneficial to both professional and personal growth. For example, five years ago, my company offered leadership training and coaching where we spoke to a coach once a month to discuss our goals and challenges.
The coaching helped provide guidance on potential ways to think about those challenges and discuss options for overcoming them. The coach also provided guidance on how to work better with colleagues and handle different communication and problem-solving styles.
More recently, my firm provided coaching that has given many of us additional support and education on creating business development goals and activity plans.
Coaching can also be in a peer group format like Vistage, where you meet with other CEOs from different industries (or your own). A group leader asks questions and you can hear how other CEOs have addressed that issue in the past. Peer groups provide you with a valuable outlet to learn from other CEOs who have most likely faced very similar challenges.
Business and Personal Goal Setting
I have taken part the last couple of years in a personal goal-setting session with my business coach in a group environment. He uses a wider framework to think about my personal and business goals in three years, and then we work backward to determine how to achieve those goals in one-year increments.
We then drill down quarterly, monthly and weekly goals to determine actionable activities each week to meet my bigger goals. For example, some of my personal goals to be in good shape and be active in my kids’ lives break down into weekly goals of working out three to four times a week and helping coach my son’s soccer team. Establishing long-term business goals could involve setting weekly client meetings and meetings with centers of influence (like estate planning attorneys and CPAs).
While it’s not a revolutionary idea, there is power in this type of session because I’m writing it down, thinking about it, putting it on my calendar to review again, and then sharing some of the goals and actionable ideas with the group. Basically, I am being held accountable for achieving the goals I have set. The group format is also interesting and powerful because you hear incredible stories from people within the group that have overcome some significant challenges and achieved major life and business milestones.
The coach will also focus on values that drive your success (and others that could be holding you back) and where you see yourself personally and professionally in three years. We also use the Wheel of Life, which provides a chart to help score yourself in seven core areas of your life (career, family, social, health, personal finances, personal development, and spirit) to reflect on what areas you are strong in and others you might have neglected. This helps you decide if you need to refocus more time and energy on a particular area.
Strategic Business Planning
Milestones and goal setting are important, but what is the purpose? In a video, author Simon Sinek makes the analogy that if a car is like our company, money is the fuel and purpose is the destination. Fuel helps us to get to the destination, but accumulating fuel is not the purpose.
Strategic planning for senior management is a great way to determine the main business goals for the year ahead, the purpose for each goal, and how to achieve each one. We have used the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) methodology, but there are many resources to help with goal setting, including consultants.
The most important part of strategic planning might be what business professor Michael Porter has said: “The essence of strategy is that you must set limits on what you’re trying to accomplish.” Disciplined strategic planning should save everyone time, energy and money to keep you and your team focused.
It always feels like we should and can be doing more to better our services or products, but the important part of strategic planning is keeping true to the goal and activities that we have set for the year and quarter. If you think you should take on a new project, then you should confirm that it’s as important or more important than the current items in your strategic plans.
Remember, goals with purpose are more likely to be met because there is intent behind them. Strategic planning, coaching and personal goal setting help keep you and the people within your company setting goals that have purpose and are true to your values.
Nick Strain, CFP, CPWA, CEPA, AIF, is a senior wealth advisor and Chair of the Wealth Advisory Committee at Halbert Hargrove.
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