How a CFO can help you set realistic goals for the year - The Finance Team

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How a CFO can help you set realistic goals for the year

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau in Walden

After the summer break, a quote about building castles seems apt. Many of us were on the beach, building sand castles. Others retreated to our own homes; our so-called personal castles.

But the castles mentioned in Thoreau’s book Walden are neither of these. Instead, he’s referring to our goals, our ideals and aspirations. The start of a new year is a fitting time to think about those kinds of castles as well. We’re rejuvenated and motivated to set our sights on something higher. The challenge we face with this new year is to set goals for our businesses that stretch us but are realistic at the same time. In other words, we need to build castles under which our business can place solid foundations.

A part-time CFO can help you find the balance you’re seeking for. Your CFO can help you set appropriate, realistic goals in the following ways:

  • Help you know your starting point. If your goal is to become a proficient long-distance swimmer, you need to know how far you can swim to begin with. Similarly, the more you know about your company’s current performance, the more accurate goals you can set for future performance. Your CFO should give you clarity and insight into where you are now, so that you know where you can realistically aim for.
  • Help you set specific goals. “If your goal is to “lose weight” – how will you know when you’re done?” says motivational speaker Sid Savara. “Even if your long term goal is ‘get in better shape’ – you can still be specific such as ‘be in good enough shape to play football for two hours twice a week.’

“The more specific you are, the better motivated you’ll be as you get closer to achieving your goal.” The same holds for motivating your employees. Instead of setting a goal to “increase sales” your goal should be to “sell 25 units every month for the next three months”, for example. Your CFO will help you identify what an appropriate specific goal is. A well-thought out figure will give the entire workforce something to work toward, and you as a leader something specific to motivate towards.

  • Help you work out an appropriate time frame. Several motivational speakers talk about setting “SMART” goals. The T in this acronym refers to “timely”. “Your goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency,” says a writer for Topachievement.com, a self-improvement and personal development community. “If you want to lose ten kilograms, when do you want to lose it by? ‘Someday’ won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, ‘by May 1st’, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.” Your CFO will help you determine the right time frame for your business goals. He’ll take into account environmental factors and trends in order to do so. Should you aim to double your revenue by mid-year? That would depend not only on your sales drive but consumer confidence and the strength of the economy. Let your CFO guide you in setting time frames that stretch rather than discourage you.

Overall, your CFO can help you decide on goals that can foreseeably be met. “Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished,” says Topachievement.com. “Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.” If you’re looking for trustworthy, high-level financial assistance in setting your goals, contact The Finance Team. A part-time CFO from our team can provide this to your company for the period of time that you need it.

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