In the business world, there is a well-used business tool, called “Management by Objectives.” This has been around for a long time, but is still widely practised, because of its simplicity and effectiveness. (It’s just as important for you to keep track of how well you are doing.)
Tasks, targets or objectives are agreed by a manager and employee and dates are set for completion of each. Regular follow up meetings review progress, check off completed items ,and add new ones to the list. The reasons for any unfinished tasks are discussed, and revised dates are set, if necessary.
During regular follow-up discussions progress towards completion of these objectives is measured, those completed are signed off while new targets are discussed and set.
The individual home business owner’s reaction might understandably be to question the need for anything like this in a one-person home business. However, the sound reasons for setting and managing objectives apply equally to any business, no matter how large or small. The logic is simply that this process (MBO) is a means of planning for a business, keeping a record of targets attained, and equally of keeping track of those (not) attained.
The basic task of sitting down to think through a plan for your business is a worthwhile exercise in itself. It’s a way of listing important items to be completed and ticking them off when done. It’s a very good habit to aim for a reasonable “do-by” date for each, as well. If delays are encountered there’s no problem, simply re-set the date to something reasonable.
We’re all human, and one of man’s greatest weaknesses is procrastination. It’s too easy to put off those less enjoyable items for another day. Not everyone has a razor-sharp memory and long delayed items can eventually be forgotten. You can be in serious trouble if you miss a deadline for submitting your tax-return!
The suggestion is to set up a little document, with say four columns:
Date Set; Objective; Importance (1-3); Do-by Date;
You should have no more than about 6 items at any one time, and it’s vital to keep this as a living document, that should be reviewed about weekly. You can keep it on paper, or in your computer. There’s a certain satisfaction in clicking Delete when a tiresome task is complete and out of the way.
Make some of your goals short-term, (e.g. Try opening folders to keep those e-mails you might want to refer back to) and some long term (e.g. Learn some HTML to make small changes to my Web-site.)
I’m sure that you will derive the benefits of sticking to this little exercise, and it’s especially valuable to you in ensuring that your business doesn’t stagnate. As time goes on, you will become aware of new items that will grow your business into the next level of top home businesses – upgrading software to make your business more effective, a new method of attracting more visitors to your site, or a new marketing campaign.
I trust that this discussion will have been of interest to those of you who’ve not come across MBO or one of its many counterparts. Above all – keep it simple and keep it alive.
In our next article we’ll discuss the importance of Budgeting for your business.
I look forward to your company soon.
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