Every company should have business objectives -- and your consulting firm is no exception. Whether you’re just starting out or have been practicing for decades, business objectives allow you to set important directions for the future of your enterprise. First, assess your immediate situation, being conscious of your business focus and how you currently operate. Then develop a clear vision for change, marked by measurable outcomes in specific areas that are achievable over set periods of time. Be aware that your consulting firm does not function in a vacuum but a larger marketplace -- full of competitors and industry-wide developments.
At the heart of writing business objectives is being clear about what you will achieve as a consultant. Would you like to develop a new area of specialization? Or is your aim to introduce an entirely new line of services? Alternatively, do you plan to continue with your existing services and specializations -- but want to establish strategic partnerships to expand your client base? No matter the case, business objectives should be worded in a simple yet detailed way. Statements should also be as brief as possible. For example, “Establish strategic partnerships with at least two local fundraising consulting firms in order to increase client pool.”
It’s important to deconstruct your objectives into concrete elements that realistically reflect whether you are successfully achieving them. For example: (1) research the Internet and area business associations to identify other firms; (2) create a database or spreadsheet with key contact information; (3) draft outreach correspondence aimed at a general introduction and meeting request, in person or by telephone, to explore possible synergy; and (4) follow up outreach meetings with next steps, as appropriate. Always recognize challenges -- internally and externally -- and modify objectives when necessary. For example, if only three local fundraising firms are discovered, your objective becomes harder to meet due to a limited pool of prospects and increase in perceived competition. Your objective might therefore be revised to search for strategic partners statewide.
Once you have clarity about all of the activities that will be entailed, determine completion dates. While hard deadlines reinforce accountability, engaging in activities over reasonable spans of time should be your central focus. A schedule can help to ensure that the timeframes you set are realistic. Your schedule might also reveal that many efforts will occur simultaneously. For example, you might be reaching out to potential partners and meeting with others at the same time. The more layered that efforts will be to achieve your business objectives, the more creative you’ll need to be with resources (such as strategies and personnel). Monitoring the time it takes to meet targets will help to pinpoint required adjustments. In addition, monitoring can help chart a realistic course with any objectives your firm sets in the future.
Include measurable indicators that will assess your performance. Measurable results can focus on processes. Were the strategic partnerships you wanted to create actually created? When were activities initiated and completed? What resources were used to meet your objectives? Results can also be outcome-oriented. Increase client base by 10 percent over the next 18 months as a result of new strategic partnerships. Reduce annual effort expenditures on client recruitment by 15 percent starting fiscal year 2015 as a result of new strategic partnerships. Reduce monthly online marketing cost expenditures by 20 percent as a result of these partnerships. Ultimately, the purpose of writing objectives is to set worthwhile business goals that both improve your business processes and their tangible outcomes.