Why 90-day goals work best for SMEs long term

Every business owner at some stage must systemise and scale to really succeed long-term. I have learned that over the past ten years of running several seven-figure SME businesses in the automotive and consulting arenas.

I have also learned the hard way the power of saying “no thanks” to projects and activities that are not in my 90-day plans and teach my clients the same. The results speak for themselves, with achievements attainable and measurable and not so far away we lose focus. Activities in any SME are guided by the plans we set as leaders, but their overall success depends on implementation in a timely way too.

Three months is also a season

We often talk about EOFY or business years, but within that, a lot can happen to impact your business. By its nature, 90 days is short enough that you don’t lose focus but long enough that you can make significant progress toward goals – and matches the seasons too.

Most larger companies spend months and scores of human hours to craft detailed business plans each year. But life happens – and SMEs are great at being agile and responsive because they have to be, Staff resign, managers get sick, or a pandemic comes along and blindsides the best-laid plans. Then the annual plans so carefully crafted are invalid.

In this fast-paced world, business strategies or tactics that you decide on at the beginning of the year may be outdated a few months later. I realised in 2008 when I started my first proper business that a better system is to create a very high-level annual plan and save the micro details for your 90-day plan. Breaking your annual plan into 90-day plans gives you the flexibility you need to achieve your goals.

Annual plans matter

Once you’ve reviewed the last quarter go back to that annual plan. Compare where you are now with what you need to accomplish for the remainder of the year. By keeping an eye on your annual goals, you can adjust your quarterly plan as needed. For example, launching an online course may be in your third quarter plan, but your priority in the first quarter was to hire a VA to help free up more time to do the course creation.

There may also be personal considerations in your planning. Are you going to take time off during the current 90-day period?  If so, an item on your 90-day plan might be to have enough blog posts and newsletters pre-written to cover the time that you are on vacation so that you can relax and enjoy yourself. Personally, I book holidays first!

I’d recommend no more than three business objectives to focus on in each 90-day plan. If you choose more than that, it will be very hard to stay focused. These should be your top priorities – the projects or initiatives that will really move the needle in your business.

If you want to be even more focused, then go hard on one big objective for the quarter.

Get going with gusto

Launching your 90-day business plan also helps you and your team gain momentum FAST. We can see, and measure success early in the year, and keep winning because we have set goals that we can work towards daily.

Then review and reset for the next 90 days. Allocate time to reflect on the previous 90-day period. Which goals are on target and which do you need to focus on or change because there are other priorities or challenges – such as inflation or supply chain delays?  Think about what’s working well and what needs improvement. Also, look at your plan from last quarter. Did you accomplish everything on your list? It can feel like you’re winning when you do.

Article originally posted on https://insidesmallbusiness.com.au/latest-news/why-90-day-goals-work-best-for-smes-long-term

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