We talk about strategic growth a lot around here. Just about everything that we do, whether it’s the clients we bring on, the volunteer work that we do, the charities to which we donate our financial resources – it all comes back to our strategy. And there’s one question that I make myself answer every time I make a decision or come up with a new idea: Does this support our strategy?
Sometimes the answer is yes and I get to move forward with my fun and new idea. If the answer is no, however, then I have to put away my shiny new idea and make sure that I re-focus my energy and efforts on that strategy. It’s not always easy – in fact I pay people to make sure that they tell me if I’m going off track!
So where does that strategy come from? It’s not something that you can pull out of thin air and simply try to focus on – it just doesn’t work that way. I’ve known people who have decided on strategies without intention and it always ends miserably.
So again, where does our strategy come from? It comes from the first step that we take whenever we go out onto our next process of strategic planning: our goals.
There are a number of way points in developing a strategic growth “roadmap”. We look at:
- Long Term Vision
- Your Next Milestone
- Your Metrics
- Facing Reality
- Drawing the Map
- Assigning Roles and Timelines
Three of those items, however (Long Term Vision, Your Next Milestone and Roles and Timelines), revolve around two different types of goals:
- Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG): You may have heard this term before, maybe not. Your big hairy audacious goal is your long term vision. If you look down the road 5 years, 10 years, 20 years…what do you want to accomplish? Do you want to be the best restaurant in town? Become a leader in the nonprofit or startup community (like us :))? What’s the one goal that’s going to give you purpose every morning when you get out of bed and go to the office? Particularly on the days that you don’t necessarily feel like going to the office…
- SMART Goals: I’m sure that most of you are familiar with SMART Goals – we hear them from every executive coach, consultant and leadership development “guru” that we come across. Just in case you’re not familiar with SMART Goals, here’s what it stands for:
- Specific: Exactly what are you trying to do? A lot of clients I talk to say something like “grow” – then I ask them to drill down on that. See something like “grow” could mean a lot of things. Are you trying to grow your revenue? Your client base? Your email list? Be as specific as possible when identifying your goals and you’ll know exactly what you’re pursuing.
- Measurable: How will you measure your success? Going back to the “grow” example, how will you measure your growth? If you just say “grow” then adding one new client or an extra dollar in revenue could potentially meet that measurement. Saying something like “grow revenue 30% gives you a much stronger guideline to know whether you met your goal or not.
- Attainable: Attainability comes down to your understanding of your own and your team’s capabilities. While setting a goal of growing revenue 100% in the next 12 months might sound insane to a one person shop, a team of 20 people might not have as much of an issue with it.
- Relevant: Relevance had to do with your role in the organization. Again, a revenue goal probably doesn’t have anything to do with you if you’re the operations officer. Likewise, as a sales person, wouldn’t do any good with a cost cutting goal.
- Time-Bound: When will this goal be completed? Again, be specific – don’t just say something like “this year”, that could mean a lot of things. Saying “by the end of the calendar year” gives you a direct timeline to measure success.
Goal setting is one of the most important aspects of creating a strategic growth plan. Without appropriate goals, you’ll never find the strategy to accomplish them. As I like to say “if you don’t know where the finish line is, you’ll never win the race.”
If you’d like more information on setting goals or would like to know how we can help you do so, click here and fill out our contact form!