Pet Gazette March 2019 - Page 27

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? THE HORIZON 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. THE HARBOUR 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 can use? • 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 market share? 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? THE RACE 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. March 2019