Is 2016 going to be your bullseye year? Check out these 4 steps that will help you raise the bar.
You may or may not start running 20 miles per week, give up smoking or discover South-America in 2016 (although we sincerely hope you do!), but making New Year's resolutions is as much about the chase as it is the catch. In doing so, you're bound to hit some of the lofty goals you set for yourself in 2016. If you can live with the ones you miss, there's always next year - or next month? - to try and do better.
But what about the business goals you set? How will you go about reaching them? And how many can you afford to miss when trying to progress your business? Remember, you're not the only one involved here; customer satisfaction, employee motivation and just pure long-term growth ride on whether or not you aim higher each year while improving on your weaker points.
Is 2016 going to be your bullseye year? Check out these 4 steps that will help you raise the bar!
1. Know what you're really striving for
You have it all planned: a month-long trek through the Laotian jungle in September. A great adventure, sure, but why exactly are you undertaking it? Is it meant to confront you with entirely different cultures, to reignite your bond with nature or rather to force you into leaping out of your comfort zone?
It's important to know the purpose of certain challenges in order for them to be truly motivating along the way and fulfilling at the end. This rings true for your business goals also. Aiming to be the best-known bricklaying company in the market makes no sense if your company has no budget to hire more bricklayers.
Dare to closely examine your business goals in order to understand what the expected gains will be and if those are realistically aligned with your business plan, core values and company mission. Are they not? Then surely re-evaluate and aim elsewhere.
2. Don't be blinded by binary goals
There's something to be said for aiming high and seldom accepting failure. But in business as in life, some factors are simply out of your control. And even if they're not, you might not always get there on the first try. Don't let that blind you from seeing progress made.
Suppose you set out to reach a certain percentage of extra sales in 2016. By the end of the year, you've managed to sell more, but not in the capacity you were after. Don't chastise yourself for this failure. Instead, evaluate your sales process to see where you gained and lost ground, and go from there. In this case, the number of leads your sales reps contacted per month might have grown substantially. That's a big plus. Now you can focus on getting your closing ratio up, whether it's by finetuning your sales practice or elevating the quality of your leads. See, things are looking up for 2017 already.
3. Make small differences first
So this is the year you're finally registering for that marathon you've been dreaming about. Congratulations! But unless you're a particular kind of masochist, you're probably not going to run the full 16 miles during your first training session. Otherwise, chances are you'll be left on the side of the road, clutching your strained calves while desperately hollering at passers-by for help.
Likewise, it's much more preferable to break those lofty business goals up into smaller parts than immediately going for the long haul. Not only do those minor stages seem more achievable, the path to completing them will be much more clear-cut too. Moreover, as one small success adds to another, you and your team get better and gain the necessary experience and confidence to see those big gains at the end.
For example, 15% more turnover for the year might translate to building 6 more large corporate websites from scratch. That's one big number, broken down into 6 pretty daunting projects - which can be further divided over time, departments, and so on. Now, what started as a steep challenge has turned into a series of manageable tasks. Not so daunting anymore, is it?
4. Measure every effort
Breaking down your end goals into smaller parts makes progress more easily visible, but only if you don't forget to measure your efforts. And since a growing business eventually needs multiple shoulders to carry it, you'll have to start measuring across every department, from marketing to sales and customer support.
The key is: finding the right metrics first, then the right tools you need to measure them. The metrics will differ depending on your business or interest, but just make sure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Take both input metrics (like the number of follow-up calls or invested budget) and output metrics (like number of new customers or ROI) into account. The latter indicate performance, the first what you did to get there.
As for the measuring tool of your choice, make sure it delivers the data you need both thoroughly automated and in real time. After all, time is of the essence: you don't want to waste it crunching all the numbers yourself, nor do you want to wait until the end of the quarter for those precious data. Because if you're underperforming, you need to know now, before those big goals for 2016 are irreversibly out of reach.
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