Preparing for a challenge

It’s no secret that despite the optimism and excitement of the forthcoming Olympics, 2012 is set to be a challenging year for many of us. This, of course, is due in the main to the ongoing turmoil in the financial markets and the uncertainty this inflicts on consumers as a whole.

Nevertheless now is not a time to bury your head in the sand and hope for the best as even the most challenging  times  can be carefully negotiated through careful consideration and tactical planning.

As the well-known author on time management Alan Lakein quoted: “Failing to plan is planning to fail” and the start of a New Year is as good a time as any to set and prioritise objectives along with the steps to achieve them for the year ahead.

Of course deciding on your objectives or goals may be relatively simple; anyone can state “my goal this year is to double turnover”, but the question is of course: how are you going to achieve it? You can’t simply ‘do’ a goal. You have to break it down into doable steps; which takes time and effort and is why most objectives fail.

SMART is a system to test the viability of your goals and objectives and is used by marketing  professionals worldwide  to set growth strategies for their companies.

SMART stands for:

Is the objective precise and well defined?
Is it clear?
Can everyone understand it?

How will you know when the objective has been met?
What evidence is needed to confirm it? Have you stated how you will judge
whether it has been completed or not?

Is it within your capabilities?
Do you have the necessary resources to make it happen?
Can it be done at all?

Is it possible to perform the objective? How sensible is it in the current
business context?
Does it fit into the overall pattern of work?

What is the deadline?
Is it feasible to meet this deadline? Can it be started now?

Once you have a SMART objective, then you can begin to break it down into smaller bite- size steps that can be performed, reviewed and adjusted on a regular basis.

In order to keep on course, the steps you take to accomplish your main objective may need a degree of flexibility as the course to success is rarely straightforward.   When reviewing progress, don’t be afraid to establish new parameters if  you feel  your objective  is straying off course.

Using techniques based on this principle, last year, Flexpress achieved our five year goal of
£1 million turnover one whole year ahead of schedule. Unsurprisingly this required some
variation from our original strategy but having the systems in place to measure progress and the flexibility to adjust as necessary were fundamental to achieving success.

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