Business Quarterly: Lisa Riley – Strategies for setting goals

Published: 01-24-2023 9:02 AM

We all know that year-end strategic planning is one of the most-important things you can do for yourself, your business and your clients, so creating and implementing a plan for 2023 is at the top of all our minds.

We’re at that time of year where some people have already planned for 2023 and other people are doing it right now. Personally, I can talk about strategic business planning ad nauseam, especially in relation to goal-setting and tactical steps to achieve goals. It’s not the sexiest topic, but it is the most important. How do you go about goal-setting and planning for your life and business in 2023? 

At the end of every year, I look back at how a business did that year, how the financials are looking, what the customer experience was like and what the game plan is for the following year. As I plan for the year ahead, I follow a framework for approaching strategic business planning that starts with a 10,000-foot view of the business, or what is called the “desired future state” or “DFS.”

The DFS is a future vision that you want for your business – for example, “I want to do $100 million in sales volume in 2023,” or “I want to retire in 10 years.” This is supposed to be inspirational, so don’t allow this to become something you dread.

I personally focus on the quarterly, one-year, three-year, five-year and 10-year DFS. The point of the DFS is to forcibly disconnect yourself from reality and think big. When looking at your business, I want you to have an open and big vision for what can be. Honestly, the crazier the better. Think President John F. Kennedy and his 10-year plan to put a man on the moon. The more vivid and wild the future vision the better. Your DFS consists of pure dreams, but within reason.

Now, let’s flip the script and acknowledge reality. Where are we right now? This is when we look at the hard numbers and the data-driven proof of what we offer. There is nothing more attractive than when a company really knows itself, so it should be pretty easy to determine what it will take to get us from our current reality to our DFS. This is where our strategic planning begins.

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For example, if my goal is to do $100 million in sales volume in 2023, I scale it back to the numbers. What is the average sale price? How many of those sales will I need to do to reach $100 million? That’s my baseline for determining what I have to do to make it happen. In this example, the average sales price in 2022 for single-family homes in our area was $423,762. I would have to sell 236 homes at that price point to reach $100 million in sales volume.

As a single person, that seems impossible, but what if you grew a team of sales agents? Then, what if you sold several homes priced at over $1 million each? Now we’re getting closer to the realm of possibility! I’m really big on focusing on the next quarter in detail with some perspective on the rest of the year. In truth, knowing what is going to happen in July or December 2023 is impossible, especially when taking into consideration the global perspective and market forecast, but focusing on the next three months will generate tangible results when following actionable steps.

Now that we’ve looked at planning for your business, another question that I find to be crucial is, “How will you feel once you achieve your goals and what will your personal life look like?” It’s really easy to let our business dictate what our lives look like, but I have learned the hard way that I prefer to wrap a business around the lifestyle I want. It’s important to process what it will take to achieve our goals, if we are willing and able to commit to that and if we will enjoy the process as well as the results.

A great way to start thinking about lifestyle and business as a package deal is to start with “moonshots.” What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Do your goals align with that vision? It’s easy as a founder to say “I’m willing to do anything,” but rarely is that true and, for some of us, we don’t know if we really are willing to do anything. There is a lot of rhetoric around entrepreneurs doing whatever it takes, being a crazy one, a misfit, hustle, hustle, hustle, but that’s not necessarily for everyone. You can be an entrepreneur without having to do that. However, your current reality and goals (whether talking personal moonshots or professional DFS) need to align and be realistic. The action plan then follows the answer to the question, “Are you willing and able to do the work?” 

Starting your strategic business planning with the identification of your personal goals will surely set you up for success in the new year. This allows you to create a plan that actually lives within the world of possibility or reality. 

As always, the best planning system is the one that works for you, which is also my philosophy on software and systems, since those can easily become an administrative burden rather than a functional value-add in the day-to-day operations of your business. Do the work to figure out what works, hold yourself accountable and watch your dreams become reality.

Last but not least, here’s a gentle reminder that almost anything is possible, but our most-precious commodity is time, so invest it wisely.

Lisa Riley is director of operations for Halliday Real Estate in Peterborough.