Once the uncertain initial phases of business entrepreneurship are over and the new business is running smoothly, it can be tempting to sit back, take a breather, and let the business coast on by itself for a while

However, this is actually the ideal time to begin planning again. The business owner’s initial goal is to get the financial and operational stability of the business established, but that doesn’t mean that goal-setting ends there.

Many entrepreneurs tend to confuse goals with the tasks necessary to achieve them, but goals are so much more. Goals are more ‘higher level’ and should always be based on the entrepreneur’s vision for the future of the business. In other words, goals should be based on the outcomes the business is hoping to achieve, not the outcomes it achieved last year, or the year before that. Defining future performance based on past information is a recipe for disaster.

Business owners need to continuously be on the lookout for new trends and innovations that can drive better business performance. It’s all about shifting goals in response to competition, opportunity and industry activity, rather than getting caught up in a bubble.

Responding to competition is just one such example. It’s a fatal mistake to assume the company’s current market share is guaranteed for life, and to rest on one’s laurels to stay competitive in such fast changing markets. Companies like Kodak and Nokia are known for having dominated their markets comfortably for years, only to be taken down by smaller, more agile start-ups who were quick to shift their business goals in reaction to the realities of the market.

Re-adjusting goals: a few considerations to take into account

There are three main areas to consider when readjusting the goals of a business:

  1. Market participation.

It is essential to comprehensively appraise the needs of the target market. Failure to do so indicates that a business is not servicing its customer base to the best of their abilities, and is therefore leaving a wide gap for competitors to fill. Look at what other players are doing in both complementary and competitive businesses. Business owners must ask themselves which markets they want to participate in, where the opportunities to grow reside, and which new markets they could enter based on current capabilities.

  1. Product

Business owners should take an honest look at their product offering and ask themselves whether they could improve upon it, either through adding or removing products in order to optimise the range. If a product is a slow-mover, it may be time to retire it. If another is doing well, there may be an opportunity to improve it, or to introduce an adjacent product that could replicate its success.

  1. Operations

Achieving goals requires resources, so when a business is going through a period of goal alignment, it is essential to look at whether or not the operational side of a company is able to support its ambitions. A business owner must decide how best to organise an operating strategy in order to free up the resources they need. Will the new venture need new premises? Additional employees? New equipment? All of this and more must be considered.

When an entrepreneur decides that a goal re-alignment is necessary, they are often so embroiled in the day-to-day operations that they can fail to see the wood for the trees – a detrimental shortcoming when plotting a course for their business’s future prosperity. In my experience, there is massive benefit in getting an outsider’s impartial perspective. Sometimes business owners need somebody with a strategic outlook to rattle their cage and make sure they are not getting too comfortable. A consultant or business coach can help an entrepreneur to understand the threats and the opportunities that face the business, and adjust their strategy accordingly.