If you’re on the journey of building a trades business no doubt you’ll be aware of the ups and downs of getting started. Building any business is hard work with great pay offs, but it takes a lot of grit, determination and a fair bit of motivation to push through the challenges to keep learning and building.
One great tool that is invaluable to new business owners is SMART goal setting. We all know the drill around setting goals. Sometimes we hit them, but often our goals are so big and lofty that we get used to not meeting them.
Sure it’s all well and good to have a goal of a national construction company that employs thousands of people and turns over millions of dollars. But if that's your first goal when you’re starting out, chances are the gap between your first client and that empire you’re building might feel a little overwhelming.
The thing is, your goals can be big so long as they are SMART and you have a plan to reach them.
What is a SMART Goal?
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based, and it can be applied to pretty much any goal you set for yourself - be it personal or professional. When it comes to setting up and building your trades business your SMART goals can be a combination of personal and professional - whatever it is that will help you sustain focus, energy and momentum to keep moving forward.
When you start making goals make sure you go past vague ideas about what you want to do, like ‘start my own business’ and be as specific as you can. You can include elements such as what size business, what niche you’ll specialise in or market you’ll serve, and what you’ll deliver. Instead of ‘start my own trades company’ your specific goal may be ‘start a building company specialising in mid-size residential family homes.
The more specific you are to start with, the more guidance you give yourself when you’re making decisions such as marketing, financing, staffing, branding etc.
The next element is to make sure your goals will have a measurable outcome.This will help give you clear targets that serve to both motivate you and keep you on track. For example instead of ‘I want to hire staff’ you could say ‘I want to have secured 3 big jobs in the first six months so I can hire one full time employee and one apprentice.’
Numbers help you know how you’re going and help you set the pace of your work so you know exactly how much time, resources and energy you need to achieve them.
A big part of the reason most of us never follow through on our New Year's Resolution is because the goal isn’t attainable to us. If you’re starting a trades business with limited capital and business management experience you want to set yourself up for success. That means giving yourself goals that will push you, but that are also realistic and within your capacity to reach. No big business was built overnight, so setting attainable goals is a great way for you to grow step by step.
Your business isn’t built in a bubble so it’s important your goals are relevant to the market conditions you’re building in. Sticking with the building example - if there is a recession and the housing market is in decline then setting huge financial goals might not be relevant to the market. Whatever trade you’re working in it’s essential you pay attention to the conditions you’re working within. That includes both the market place, the geographical location and your internal capabilities and capacity.
Give yourself strict timelines for your goals. You don’t help yourself by constantly pushing back deadlines or leaving your time frame wide open. Time bound goals help you determine what type of processes and systems you need in place to meet deadlines, how hard and fast you need to work, and to see what you and your team are capable of. Remember that everything is built in stages, and you can give yourself a variety of different time bound goals - then reassess when you reach your deadline. This is how you learn, improve and create efficiency in your business.