I always breathe a sigh of relief when April 15 passes. While I wasn't happy with the amount of taxes that we owed this year, I know that the additional payment represented a good year for business. How was your year in 2010? Were you happy with the results? If not, maybe it's time to set some goals to make 2011 a better year.
I recently asked a colleague, “How was business in 2010?” She replied with a mundane, “OK.” I have to wonder if the response is symptomatic of the typical practice today—mediocre and not living up to its potential. When it comes to business, settling for “fine” will pay your salary, but shooting for “fabulous” can add much more to your bottom line.
According to the annual Hearing Journal/Audiology Online survey, in 2009, the average practice generated gross revenue of $300,000, had been in practice for more than fifteen years, saw 33 patients, and sold 17 units per month (HJ 05/10). Not that $300,000 is small potatoes when it comes to business, but it seems like there is more potential in the average practice, especially with fifteen years of existing patients.
The best way to reach unrealized potential in a business is to set goals. Goals are measuring sticks that help you measure progress, or the lack thereof, in a specific time frame. As you think about establishing goals, keep in mind that they should be clear enough to be kept in focus; close enough to be achieved; and helpful enough to make a significant change in the business.
Focusing on a very specific target can help push an organization to a new level of productivity and profitability. A goal doesn't have to be sweeping to be valuable; small goals are worth working on too because small steps can lead to big changes if you follow through. For instance, a goal doesn't have to be as optimistic as “I will increase sales by 50% this year.” A successful goal can be as simple as, “I will reduce my returns from 5% to 2%.”
So what does it take to transform a business from fine to fabulous? Fortunately, it only takes a few, and in some cases only one, changes to make the difference. If you are committed to setting some goals for your practice, here are some ideas:
* Set them: The first, and sometimes most difficult, step is actually establishing specific outcomes that you would like to attain. Once goals have been established, it's important to actually record them. If they aren't written down, they can quickly be forgotten and it will be easy to revert to “business as usual.” Recording goals encourages a personal commitment to accomplishing them. It's a wise idea to keep the goals close at hand and to review them frequently. Goals that are out of sight are usually out of mind.
* Be realistic: Each time I return from a vacation, I have a goal to lose five pounds before the next day begins. Needless to say, that unrealistic goal is never accomplished. Realistic goals are achievable, as opposed to unrealistic pipe dreams that are so far out of reach they only lead to frustration. Goals shouldn't be so easy that they don't require a change, but they should be within a realistic grasp. Sometimes it takes an incentive to make the extra effort to break out of a rut, so you may want to attach some type of reward to achieving your goal for additional motivation.
* Make them specific and measurable: Every goal should produce some sort of quantifiable result. For example, “I will increase my sales by 10% in 2011” is a measurable goal. The more specific the goal, the easier it will be to accomplish. What are some realistic goals for business? It might be increasing your help rate from 60% to 70%, or reducing the number of returns or exchanges. It may even be as simple as leaving the office by five o'clock every day. Goals must be personal to be meaningful.
* Set deadlines: An open-ended goal such as “I want to make more money some day” is too general to accomplish. “Some day” usually never comes. A goal without a deadline is simply a dream, and dreams don't always become a reality. Attainable goals come with a specific action plan of how you expect to reach the desired outcome such as, “I will increase my salary by $20,000 by June 30, 2011.”
* Push it: I recently heard Donald Trump say, “You are going to think anyway, so why not think big?” To grow and prosper we must challenge our present reality and escape the comfort zone. There is something to be said for the power of positive thinking. If you believe big, you will achieve big.
Wouldn't you like to take home an extra $25,000 or more for doing the same amount of work but doing it slightly better in 2011? It's not that difficult to do if you have specific, recorded, measurable goals and a deadline to accomplish them.
Don't settle for “fine” in 2011. Set some goals and transform your business into “fabulous.” It will be worth the effort!
Gyl's e-Guide to Managing for Success
For more advice on setting goals for your business, check out Gyl's video, fine or fabulous, on the hearing journal website at www.thehearingjournal.com.