If you're like most successful entrepreneurs, you started the year by creating an annual plan. You know that not having a plan is like being lost with no map or GPS; there's a slight possibility of getting to your destination but it's more difficult and less likely.
Unfortunately, while many entrepreneurs have a business and marketing plan, many of them have trouble following it. Like your New Year's resolutions, the plan was easy to follow in January, but each passing month brought with it new opportunities and new challenges. As a result, by this time of the year many entrepreneurs have shifted their focus from the well plotted course to the new realities of their business.
For example, you might have planned to create a new product this year, but you didn't expect so many things to derail your plan. Such as an increased barrage of emails, new competitive pressures, the required firing of an employee, or a technical glitch with which you had to deal.
According to Dave Lavinsky, President and Founder of Growthink, most entrepreneurs have gotten off track from the plans they laid out in January. Since 1999, the Growthink team has helped over 500,000 entrepreneurs to successfully start, grow, or exit their companies.
"We see this a lot," says Lavinsky. "If business owners don't course-correct now they will end the year no better off than they started it. Or at least not in the position they could have attained."
The good news is that one-third of the year is still left, which is plenty of time to accomplish some or most of the goals you previously set for 2012. Here are the simple steps that Lavinsky recommends to get yourself back on track.
1. Make a new list.
The first step in this course correction process is to review the big annual goals that you set at the beginning of the year. Now create a new list. What can you realistically achieve in the remainder of the year?
2. Think about how and why your two lists differ.
Why are certain goals no longer attainable? Did new opportunities get in their way? And are these new opportunities working out? More likely than not, any new, unplanned opportunities you pursued so far this year were mere distractions from your plan. Think about what else has gotten in the way of your goals. Have you spent too much time answering phone calls or emails? Have you been stuck in too many meetings, or had to work tirelessly to satisfy the needs of certain customers? Figure out what has caused certain goals to fall out of reach, and most importantly, what you can do differently to achieve them (such as holding off on new, unplanned opportunities, or only checking email once per day).
3. Next, create a plan for achieving your top goals this year.
Start by identifying the one goal you absolutely must achieve by the end of the year. Write down the five things you need to do in the next thirty days to progress toward achieving that goal. Then, after thirty days have passed, confirm you have achieved those five things and create the list of five things you must accomplish during the next month. Doing this will get you in the habit of constantly setting and accomplishing short-term goals that result in the achievement of your bigger goals. It will also help you figure out how to stop the myriad of distractions that needlessly burden most business owners.
Remember, that one-third of the year is still left. We've all seen sports teams make amazing progress in the final period and outperform their competitors. You can too if you create, and stick to, the right game plan.