Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021!

Saying goodbye to the old year and saying hello to the new one is a time-honored tradition. Never has the tradition been celebrated with more zeal than this year, as we kiss 2020 goodbye. I don’t know anyone who wants to repeat the last ten months. People, especially business owners, are looking forward to 2021 with its promise for reaping financial benefits from their hard work, instead of working hard and barely keeping afloat.

Saying a firm goodbye to 2020 and a hearty hello to 2021is an opportunity to reflect on accomplishments and challenges from 2020, and to plan for goals and achievements in 2021. We don’t know what next year will bring. Conditions will change and we will adapt, but we need to plan no matter what. You know what they say…A goal without a plan is just a dream

Making a new plan starts with identifying an overarching change or improvement you want by the end of 2021. Need a new worker or system? Want to offer a new service or product? Follow these three tips to establish a plan and achieve your goals in 2021:

  • Gather the Numbers – Quantify your goals as much as possible. This task will require some research and could require making estimates and assumptions. For example, how much time and money would a new worker or system cost? How much of that cost would be one-time and how much would be ongoing? The more numbers you can nail down, the better.
  • Be Realistic – Know your market conditions and your resource capacity when setting your goals. It’s important to be realistic to help ensure that your plan is achievable. Setting unrealistic objectives is discouraging and could result in spending time and money on activities that are unlikely to succeed. Better to use those resources on realistic, achievable goals.
  • Adjust As Needed – No matter how well you research the numbers and focus on what’s realistic, the market conditions and other factors used to set goals and make plans will change. Periodically assess your plan and progress on meeting your goals. Are you on track? Why or why not? Based on the answers, adapt your plans and goals accordingly.

Saying goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021is an opportunity to close the door on a year we don’t want to repeat and plan for renewal. It’s the perfect time to savor your achievements and to plan for a much better new year. Don’t let your goals turn into dreams that you never achieved. Establish a plan for 2021 and turn those dreams into your reality. 

Six Years in Business – Already?

Just the other day, someone asked me how long ago I started my business. I was surprised to realize that it’s been six years this week! I’ve never regretted the decision to parlay my entrepreneurial spirit and experience into a full-time business. Sure, it’s been a lot of work, but with diligence and good luck, I’ve achieved my goals. 

Anniversaries are milestones worth celebrating, and a time for reflection – to assess progress, identify improvements, and set new goals. Businesses that survive to celebrate many anniversaries and other milestones invest significant time and effort in these four activities:

  • Plan with Your Objective in Mind 

A business plan is a road map to get where you want to go and help to keep your “Eye on The Prize”. Unless you know what you’re reaching for, you can’t grab it. Set your overall objectives and describe the detailed steps to achieve them. Set interim milestones along the way to help measure your progress and keep you motivated.

  • Execute Your Plan

Actively work through the detailed steps in your plan. It’s exhilarating to achieve goals and move forward. Executing your plans also gives you opportunities to get more information. Use new information to adapt your plans and make course corrections. Also listen to how your network receives your message and adjust the wording to get your message across better.

  • Outsource Needs You Can’t Meet

Be realistic about aspects of your business where you do not have the necessary expertise or can’t take the time away from your core business to do it yourself. Legal, accounting, and social media are some areas where engaging an expert can accomplish specialized tasks, free up your time, and prevent you from making costly mistakes.

  • Give to Your Network

Answering general questions in your area of expertise and presenting at workshops gives are ways that you can share knowledge with your network and establish your credibility. Sharing tips and perspective helps to establish your brand and draw people to you and your business. Being generous is often its own reward, over the long run.

The last six years of being in business full-time have been hard work, fun, and rewarding – all at the same time. It takes a lot more than investing in these four activities to be successful. But businesses that invest in planning, executing, outsourcing, and giving back increase the probability that they will enjoy many future anniversaries and milestones.

Year End Reflections and Plans for 2019

Year end is the perfect time to reflect on and celebrate accomplishments made during 2018. Yes, year-end is time to enjoy your success. It’s also a great time to plan for the accomplishments you want to achieve in 2019. Whether you are expanding or launching something new, setting objectives is your starting point.

First, identify a few specific areas of your organization you’d like to change or improve in 2019. Want higher profits, cash flow or client base? Need a new employee or system? No change or improvement will happen without a plan to get it done, starting with clear and detailed objectives.

Follow these three tips for objectives that give you a head start toward the finish line:

Gather the Numbers

Quantify all the applicable aspects of your objective. This task will require some research

and could entail making estimates and assumptions. For example, how much profit or client growth do you want to achieve? Can you express that growth as a dollar amount and as a percentage? How much would a new system or employee cost? How much of that cost would be one-time and how much would be ongoing? The more numbers you can nail down or estimate, the better.

Be Realistic

Keep market conditions and your resource capacity in mind when setting growth objectives. It’s important to be realistic in order to ensure that your objectives are achievable. Setting unrealistic objectives is not only discouraging, it can result in allocating resources – aka time and money – on activities that are unlikely to succeed. Better to target those resources on realistic, achievable objectives.

Adjust As Needed

No matter how well you research, estimate and focus on the achievable, any view of future events is imperfect. Market conditions and other factors that you depended on when setting your objectives could change. Periodically assess progress on meeting your objectives. Are you on track? Why or why not? Based on those answers, you may need to make some adjustments to the objectives that you set at the beginning of the year.

Year end is the perfect time to reflect on and celebrate the year’s accomplishments and to plan for the objectives you want to set for next year. Identify specific things you’d like to change, set detailed and clear objectives, and you’ll have a great head start to improve your organization in 2019.

Achieve Goals by Tracking Progress

Your organization’s goals are spelled out in budget and planning documents. Those goals are usually established at the beginning of the year. At the end of the year, you see if the goals were achieved. Do you really want to wait until the year-end?


Probably not. Year-end is too late to find out whether goals were met.


Tracking established goals is the best approach to manage your organization’s progress and avoid getting knocked off course. Organizations achieve their goals with tracking mechanisms that address these four areas:


  1. Result Areas – Think about what “success” looks like for your organization. Identify the outcomes, roles, and processes that are essential to achieving success. Result Areas may be specific to your industry or market. They can be financial, operational, or programmatic. Examples include achieving specific profit margins, quality standards, or market share.


  1. Indicators and Attributes – Select the outcomes, roles, and processes that are necessary to achieve the established goals. There’s a lot going on in your organization, and you can’t track all of it. Focus on the essential activities that MUST work for each goal to be achieved. Identify the information needed to get a view of what’s going on, and whether things are working well or not, such as financial, production, and employee reports.


  1. Collect and Report Data – Standard processes for collecting, tracking and reporting data helps ensure that information is reliable. Automation generally increases accuracy and makes it easier to obtain. Define “normal” profits, volumes, transactions, etc., to help recognize results that are abnormal, or “exceptions” that require more attention. Include all applicable stakeholders in defining normal vs. exception results.


  1. Analyze and Act – Review tracking reports and interpret them based on circumstances and established goals. Analyzing trends can help organizations see an issue early, before it grows to a crisis. Exception results should be assessed in an effort to understand what is causing the exception. Knowing the cause of the exception helps to identify corrective actions help get things back on course.


Don’t wait until year-end to see of your organization’s goals were achieved. Use these four tracking mechanisms to manage your organization’s progress and stay on course.

Are Your Goals Just Dreams?

Frequent readers know my opinion that workshops are a great way to get a lot of information in one place. Last week’s Fierce about Your Finances Expo, conducted by Financially Fierce, LLC, proved me right again. The Expo provided lots of financial information to plan for achieving your goals.


A Goal without a Plan is just a Dream.


Planning to achieve personal and business financial goals was the overall theme of the Expo. Participants were there to obtain useful information to start or augment her or his plans. Exhibitors (including me) shared her or his knowledge to help those plans along.


Topics at the Expo ranged from taxes (me again), to retirement, mortgages, and debt recovery. For all the topics, the Expo delivered three common messages about planning to achieve financial goals:


  1. Establish Clear Goals

Determining what you want to accomplish, at what level, how, and by what date are essential to establish clear goals. Answering all those questions about what, how, and when also helps you track your progress and know when you’ve achieved your goals.


  1. Do Your Research

Harness the information available at Expos, professional organizations, and networking groups. Seek out successful people and ask for guidance. Read books and publications. Attend conferences and events that offer the information necessary for your plan.


  1. Adapt to Updates

New information and changing conditions make your plans change. Plans must be adapted based on new inputs and the learning that happens while you’re doing. Recognize the difference between adapting your plan and losing focus on your goals.


Adopting these three messages helps people and businesses to Plan for achieving their Goals, to  keep those Goals from being just a Dream that never comes true.