• Business Goals

Setting Business Goals

w/ Simon Lamb – Cranky Goat Cheese’s 

 

 

 

I have a serious question for you. Do you as a business owner set business goals every year? They say that businesses that set goals and write them down are more likely to achieve them.

Our interview is someone that is a business owner himself and he regularly sets his own business goals each year. Our interview is with Simon Lamb from cranky goat, home of goats cheese in the Marlborough sounds and top of the South.

 

We would like to start with is What is Cranky Goat?’.

 

Cranky Goat is a family business. We started out nine years ago making 180 kilos of cheese a month. Our original plan when starting out was to remain at a similar size, well we’re now doing between 1.4 and 1.6 tonnes of cheese a month.

Still in the same building, still a family business based out in the Marlborough Sounds. We run two brands, we have Cranky Goat, and we have Moody Cow and by those names, you can probably appreciate that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. When it comes to what we’re doing we look at producing high-quality handmade cheeses, very much orientating towards the French style. But it’s also been for us, it’s been about innovation and growing a business. And certainly, the dairy industry. The food production side is a tough business and margins are really tight.

 

Directional

As a business owner, there are lots of challenges that we’re facing at the moment, especially due to the pandemic.

 

Simon – Cranky Goat

The topic of Goal Setting, I think is a really great time to talk about it. Because the great thing with goal setting in business is, if you’re doing it as a business regularly, and keep visiting them and making them not just something you have tucked away in a folder because someone told you to do it. But having something that you use on a regular, weekly or even monthly basis to help give you direction is invaluable.

We certainly have found when the pressure really comes on. And you’re sort of a little bit unsure what you need to do. Go back to your goals. And all of a sudden, there’s greater clarity in actually this is what we’re here to achieve.

 

How do the goals fit into your vision? Share with us your thoughts on this?

 

Simon – Cranky Goat

Having taught leadership, for probably the last 20 years before I got into cheesemaking. We’ve always talked about goal setting. I had recently been working with my apprentice cheesemaker, about 18 months ago, and it suddenly dawned on me, the relationship between your vision as a business, your goals, and then your plans.

 

Your vision is really a conceptual thing, its that bigger picture in 15-20 years, this is where we want to be it so sort of that bit of blue sky dreaming of where you want it to be. And really that should remain reasonably fixed. That should reflect who you are as a business.

 

What are your core values? What’s your ethos?

And where is it that you really want to go as a business in the longer term, but that should remain reasonably fixed? Because you’re caught unless you change what your core business is. Your vision should remain reason really fixed otherwise, you can end up chasing your tail running from one side of the ship to the other. In business, it is very easy to lose a lot of money very quickly. Rebranding, re changing your focus, changing your products. Before you know it, you have actually moved away from what your core business is.

 

Then the goal, how goals link into that vision is with your goal setting, you should have your vision there, and you’re setting these goals, you should be looking at your vision going on actually does it fit into where we want that to go and the direction? And if it doesn’t, you might want to go and look at that goal again, and redraft, re-word because if it doesn’t fit in with what your vision is, you could end up wasting time and energy moving away from what your core businesses.

 

Directional 

COVID has impacted a lot of businesses. And, you know, we heard the word pivot used a lot. There were businesses out there really having to transition where they went. And that, in a sense, kind of meant that the vision in some cases had to change as well.

 

Simon – Cranky Goat

If your vision is written, conceptually enough, you shouldn’t need to change. What has to pivot is usually your plans that support your goals, your goals have to pivot. So as the situation changes, there’s a great term that we use quite a lot. The Situation’s changed. What is the impact of that? And you will list up what the impact is? And from that, you then re look at it and say, Okay, what if, what if I did this? And then you ask the same question again, to see how the answers change? And I think that’s where we need to start. You look at your goals. Okay. Is that still relevant? Yes. Okay, come back to the plan for us to achieve that goal. How do we adjust it to the change in the situation, Can you change the situation? And then you move forward? You change the plan. So you’re still maintaining the integrity of your direction?

 

We saw, for instance, textile manufacturers suddenly starting to make face masks. Had they changed their core business, which was to manufacture textiles? No, they probably moved from making maybe a t-shirt or a shirt to making face masks. So yes, they planned to change, but they were still making a textile.

 

How does your plan support your goals?.

 

Simon  – Cranky Goat

The key with the plans is, you got to remember, a plan really only lasts when put in place.  There’s a great saying that they talk about in the military, the plan will only last until you come in contact with the enemy. Well, the enemy for us as businesses is COVID. So as soon as COVID pops up, we had plans and a framework in place, we’d gone through the thought process. We didn’t need to change it completely. When you’re developing plans, we should constantly be looking at developing three courses of action, for each for that plan and looking not just at what pops into our head.

“Oh, yeah, that looks about right. What’s the left? What’s the right? What’s the centre, and then look at the pros and cons of each of those and then pick what’s best for you to achieve that goal”.

The great thing, if you do that, and bother to come up with those three courses of action, it means when something like COVID happens, you’ve already gone through a big chunk of the thought process. And you just need to work through that again, just refresh, and then you can go through.

 

Do you mind sharing with us a little bit about the process that you went through a Cranky Goat, And how dealt with COVID?

 

Simon  – Cranky Goat

A little bit about cheesemaking, we’re often working three to four weeks ahead. We had stock that was  ready to go and I’m always looking at cheesemaking three to four ahead. When COVID, suddenly hit, we got told on Monday, we were going into lockdown, and on Wednesday we went into lockdown. I had in my maturing room, three or four weeks worth of stock. At the level, we were working at that time.

We lost 95% of our business, literally, at that lockdown.  We would have paid for all of that stock, sat in the material room. So it was interesting, it was certainly an interesting day. We sat down, I sat down, and my wife was getting quite worried. So the first thing that I did was tell her to go out for a walk, go sit on the beach, chill for half an hour and come back. And then really, it was a matter of okay, what do I see in front of me? What do we know are the facts? What are the known facts, and then sort of developed three courses of action?

I think probably, the most important thing that we did was also explore the trigger points to move from. So for instance, on the right-hand side was to do nothing. And I wrote all the pros and cons of doing nothing, just maintaining the same level of production. What would be the trigger point, we run out of trays in the Chillax, they’re all full of product. And then you sort of work out what was the middle, work at a reduced production, and then on the left-hand side was stopped production. And we looked at all those pros and cons, we really identified the trigger points. And then I went back and had a look at my vision, and actually said, okay, is this still within the core business? Yes, we were still doing our core business of making and selling cheese, were we still trying to achieve some of the peripheral stuff that being sustainable, being profitable? Yeah, that helped me understand what I needed to do. Back when I was under pressure that helped give me greater clarity. The remaining on that right-hand side of doing nothing, I wasn’t going to achieve my vision of being sustainable and profitable. If I shut down, I wasn’t going to be sustainable or profitable. So it really helped guide me to where our middle ground was and what we needed to do.

 

Where do you feel when, you know, people looking at visions and just supporting those goals? Where do you feel that people become unraveled?

 

Simon  – Cranky Goat

First of all, they have a say in a couple of things. People I’d seen when we went into that first lockdown, a number of businesses just bury their head in the sand, and it will go away, go back to normal will do nothing?

Well, that obviously didn’t work. I think the other one was, people, became panicked a little bit and lost clarity of where they were going. And I think a lot of that was they’d not bothered to sit down as a business and to really think about who they were, what they were about and what was important to them. What were they willing to give up to make that business successful? Some of that goes back to, well, that’s what we’ve always done, they’ve lost their flexibility, they’ve become very inflexible.

I think that the virtue of taking time out, we do it every year, we take time out for it usually in end of May. And we will sit down for three or four days and look at what’s gone well, in the previous season.

 

What have been issues? What do we need to worry about? And then we spent a couple of days going right, what do we need to do for the next season coming? Taking those points that we identified from the previous year.

 

Goals can sometimes get lost because there is no accountability. What are your thoughts? .

 

Simon  – Cranky Goat

There is a term I use, who is gonna keep you honest. I think that’s a really, you know, who is it and that sounds a bit impersonal, a bit confronting, but you need that person who’s going to come and go or tap you on the shoulder and said to you were are you going too! Why haven’t you done it? And the other thing, I think, which often gets overlooked, and is really important, if you don’t achieve a goal, why didn’t you achieve it? What were the barriers? Or what were the circumstances, that meant, that meant you didn’t achieve that goal? I would suspect, and we found that one of the areas we look at every year is around our work life balance as business owners. And we have failed terribly at that for the last eight years. So why, why is it and it’s invariably the same thing and when you don’t achieve other goals, it’s those same underlying reasons will be there. I think if you can identify them, that helps you to be more proactive, or certainly identify when you’re getting into an area that you’re vulnerable as a business. When those traits are starting to come up, okay, what do we need to do to get out of this area of vulnerability?

 

Why is it that we’re not actually achieving these goals? Was that not the right goal? Was it too big for you to achieve? Or it was never achievable in the first place of setting it?

Moody Cow

Simon  – Cranky Goat

I think it doesn’t really matter what format you use to set goals, you can use the smart model, and there are numerous other formats. I think it’s whatever you pick, whatever is comfortable. And I think also it comes back to you making it something that’s living, and you can use it. That’s the other thing is, when you’re being proactive, using them proactively, you can use it as a measure to see how successfully you’re doing. You know, rather than just looking how do we measure success in a business? Is it? Do you just look at the bank balance? Or do you turn around and say, okay, as a part of our goals, when we’re talking about measurable? Could we put something in that gives you a check that once a month or once every couple of weeks, or whatever it is, you can go and do that check, to give you an understanding of where you are to stop things from gently creeping? What is outside of your area of your control.

 

I’ve seen a number of businesses that thought they were doing really well. And then suddenly, it’s sort of crept up on them and it smacks them in the face a little bit in that, oh, wait, we’re not doing as well as we thought we were. They could have made that adjustment by just spending that little bit of time coming up with those measurements, linking them to their goals. One of the goals as business people we often forget, and we don’t write down is as you know, one of the primary goals has to be to make money, because if we’re not making money, what’s the point of doing the business?

 

I think the other thing is, the great thing with goals, especially in small businesses, you can be very isolated. You may be surrounded by people. You may be in a town, but as a business owner, you can become very isolated in that world, the weight of the world sits on your shoulders. And how do you go and have a conversation? Who can you go and talk to about your problems and your troubles? Often goals feel very personal and now we’re not doing that well. When you sit down and look at your goals, and you sit down and look at your measurements, suddenly you realise actually, we’re doing okay. I don’t need to beat myself up about this area because overall, we’re doing all right.

 

Getting into the habit of using goals and planning, we know we were going to the traffic light system here in NZ. Okay, what does that look like? And I’ll give MBIE their due, they were putting that out there and saying, as a business plan, do a risk assessment and again, spend a little bit of time beforehand, going through and working out what is the risk? What’s the impact, what’s the likelihood, and then also having that conversation with your workers, about what it looks for them, because you can come up with the best plan in the world, and you go to them and go, right, this is what we’re going to do. And now they all sort of take this big intake of breath. No, we’re not happy about that! So, you need their buy in certainly in this type of environment. It’s certainly that little bit of time spent planning is never wasted. When we’re put into that pressure situation, it helps us to make informed decisions. There is a very great quote that I use a lot, it’s by a guy called Steven Covey, who wrote a brilliant book called Seven effective habits for Highly Effective People. He said:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Now, the situation for us is, things are changing”.

So, we can’t always do what we’ve always done, because we’re not going to get it, we’re not going to get what we’ve always got. We need to change what we’re doing and probably one of our biggest challenges as business owners or leaders within a business is and probably one of the most important skills, is to identify the need to change before it’s upon you. You’re actually ahead of the curve you’re looking at. Life is about change. Life is constantly changing. It’s about identifying there is going to be a change whether I like it or not, how do I be proactive about this and get ahead of the curve? And what do, as well as what do I need to know, to make a really good informed decision?

 

Directional

You seem very level headed and you’ve been setting goals for many, many years and the success of Cranky Goat. But there’s a lot of people out there that don’t have that confidence in goal setting and you know, just having that plan in place for that disruption and having a place to start is important.

 

Simon – Cranky Goat

There is that great quote, from Nike quote, just do it. The more you practice it, your best planning and your best goal setting are done when you’re not under pressure. Rather than doing goal setting when you really need it under pressure, it becomes quite easy if you are reviewing your goals regularly. And there’s this now, this is gonna sound slightly left-field slightly out there. The other person I would be talking to is your competitor. Okay, yeah, that they’re going to be going through the same as you. And this is something that I’ve discovered within this industry. In the top of the South Island, there are not many cheese companies that we are not in competition with each other. We work together because if we made a cheese that everybody else was making, there wouldn’t be space in the marketplace.  Having taught by having those networks with your competitors, and having those communication lines for your competitors, when we have situations like this, it becomes a lot easier. You can have that conversation if you suddenly get closed down because of COVID. Could a competitor help you out? If you having these logistical issues we’re having at the moment? Have they got spare, for instance, salt that I’ve desperately need? I know someone down, someone in Nelson has got some salt. Can we do that exchange? So think it’s slightly out there. But having that conversation sometimes with your competitors is a really good thing, and will help you get through these difficult times? And also just talking what you’re going through?

 

 

If anyone’s struggling to actually set some goals, what would be some quick tips that you would give them to just kind of get started in goal setting?

 

Simon  – Cranky Goat

First of all, is, there’s a great mnemonic called KISS, keep it simple, stupid. Go and find something that you go and find a new goal and find a structure for your goals. That is really simple, and don’t be a slave. If you can’t, if you can’t feel the realistic bit, don’t worry about it. But at least just have a go just go and have a go at writing a goal. Then share that with someone and get someone to peer review it. Once you start it and make a habit of it, it becomes a lot easier. Go and find a business mentor,  go and ask a question to your business mentor around your goals. And that’s the easiest way, share it, share with other people and it will start to come easier and easier.

 

Visit Cranky Goat Website to explore their range of cheese’s www.crankygoatltd.co.nz

Need support with your Business Goals – Directional can help you with our Business strategy support

 

February 13, 2022
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