My board is being unreasonable about budget targets. Help!

Dear Aunty B,

I am blaming the media for this! I am doing my budget planning and my board thinks the GFC is over, it’s happy days again and wants me to set very steep revenue targets for the next few years that I feel will be impossible to reach and will kill and/or demoralise my staff.

How do I go about convincing them that their goals are unreasonable when the media keeps telling us that everything is better?


Dear Miffed,

It’s not my fault if your board dabbles in selective reading. In fact, what are they reading? While we no longer are living day-to-day fearing the whole financial system is seconds from collapse, things aren’t hunky dory. Sure, there are bright spots (so don’t write in and tell me I am living on another planet.) But as the media keeps pointing out, next financial year will be tough as the remnants of the GFC flush through the global financial system.

So yes, you have to take that into account. But the more important point for you my friend, is that you need to show your board a strategy that takes them along with you. You need to show them that you have a firm view – and plan – of where the company is going despite market conditions. That means that every part of the business needs a strategy that comes together to show them what you plan to achieve. Make sure you take into account their views that your business can do a lot more revenue and allow that to stretch your thinking. Get together with staff and work on ways to get that revenue in the door. And maybe set stretch targets for your staff so they have firm goals.

But don’t sign up to something that is completely unachievable. That just means the board spends the whole year losing confidence in you and you spend the year trying to achieve the impossible.

And here is how to contradict their view of the economy. I often find with boards that while you can show board members all the graphs in the world until their eyes glaze over and roll around in their heads, it can be best to give them anecdotal evidence of the marketplace.

Report to them the kinds of things that people say to you about why they are not spending. Get the board to see that while they might be reading a poll on confidence improving, your customers and customer’s customers are being affected by what is happening somewhere else in the world.

Good luck,
Your Aunty B

To read more Aunty B advice, click here.

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