BUSINESS ADVICE | PET GAZETTE | 27
canopies appear very bulbous).
Going back to our sailing metaphor, we
often hear people talk about things “not being
on our radar”. The truth is we often have often
have our radar switched off, or we aren’t
looking at the screen. So step number two -
where are you?
If you’ve ever been sailing, or on a ferry in
rough seas, you may have heard the advice
to stare at the horizon to stop yourself being
sick. In turbulent times, one can say the same
about business. It is very easy, and indeed
tempting, to be distracted by all the noise
going on immediately around you. We’re
constantly bombarded by experts saying that
we need to do more advertising, put content
on social media; that we need to develop
a niche offering; that we need to diversify;
there is always something “urgent”. Now all
of these things may be true, but we need to
keep them in their place. Just as if we were
at sea, we should be aware of the conditions
around us, and even interact with them, but
we must never lose sight of the horizon, or
things can go bad, very quickly. Hence step
number three - don’t get distracted.
On the horizon of our business should be
our goal. In our metaphorical picture, we
might call this the harbour. This may not be
our ultimate destination, but it could be just
one of a series of places we stop at on our
voyage. In the same way, our business goals
could be one year, five-year or 10-year. They
could all be very different, or very similar -
perhaps even the same, but they all need to
be realistic. Confidently stating “we turned
over £10m last year, so next year we want to
achieve £13m” is just noise based on ego.
There is rarely a good justification for these
aspirations without using hard facts, so we
might more usefully ask relevant questions
applicable to this example such as:
• Will the local market grow by 30%?
• Are there any business intelligence tools we
• Are there specific changes in buying trends
that we are well placed to exploit?
• Do we need to also increase our marketing
spend by 30% or is the link between
marketing and clients coupled differently?
• Do we have the staff to manage 30% uplift,
and if we need to bring in more, how will
that impact on cash flow and profit?
• What are the competitive threats to our
business? Are other operators going to
use different technologies to increase their
Now, the information we gathered in
our market analysis is never complete and
utterly reliable. Like being at sea in a storm
(at least before satellite navigation!) it may
not be totally clear where you are, or what
is around you. Sometimes the best guess
is all that is available, but it is important
to record this in order to validate the
accuracy of the guess when performance is
reviewed. At other times it can be relatively
straightforward to find out, say, what your
competitors are charging.
I’m not going to suggest what your business
goals should be - there are too many readers
and too many variables. But I am going to
challenge you to make them SMART - specific,
measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-
based. So step number four - where do you
want to be?
Getting to the next harbour (business goal)
is increasingly going to feel like a race.
Understanding long-term changes will affect
how your services are configured. For now,
check the weather, understand where you
are, don’t get distracted in focussing on
where you want to be. In the next article,
we’ll look at how to get there.