Ready to tackle your business goals for 2017? Here are seven questions we ask ourselves during our annual goal-setting process.
This is my favorite time of year.
It’s a time to dream, to decide what business goals we want to hit next year. It’s also a time to assess what went well (or not so well) this year.
Annual goal-setting and planning are tasks we do every year, both with our clients and our internal team at Adept.
Within 1% of Target, Year After Year
At the end of 2015, for example, we set a specific revenue target we wanted to achieve in 2016. We did this for our business and for each of our clients.
In every case, we mapped out a specific plan for how to achieve the targeted revenue goals—including our assumptions, tactics, and the specific plans we were going to use.
And guess what?
Across the board, we're on target to hit all those revenue goals down to the near freaking penny.
We’ve been dedicated to this process for ourselves and clients over the past three years, and the results speak for themselves.
7 Questions to Plan for Success Next Year
I have to say, I didn’t always prioritize annual planning the way I do now.
In the years we’ve been doing it at Adept, I’ve repeatedly been amazed to see the impact having a plan with specific assumptions, actions, and measurements can make.
Here are seven questions we ask ourselves as we do our planning at Adept:
1. What’s the revenue target?
Step one is to set your revenue target for the year.
We do this before anything else in the planning process, because any other goals we set (profit margins, industry awards, personnel expansions, etc.) will be designed to support the revenue goal.
You’ll learn very quickly when you start building out the assumptions to hit this target whether or not you’ve been too aggressive.
2. What needs to happen to hit the goal? (Be specific)
We love big audacious goals. But big goals are meaningless without a specific plan to make them happen.
For example, let’s say we wanted a 30% increase in the inbound leads we received through our website every month.
A good goal. But how might we achieve that?
Will we need to publish more content? Do we need a new content calendar to keep ourselves accountable? Do we need to drive more organic search or buy traffic?
Whatever you think you’ll need to hit your revenue targets, write it down, and be specific.
3. What assumptions are we making?
Once you have your goals and your plan, step back and define the assumptions you’ve made. For example:
- Have you assumed zero client or customer turnover? What happens to the plan if someone leaves?
- Are your budget numbers subject to approval by a boss or client? What will you do if you have to work with a smaller budget?
4. What is realistic given our resources?
We try to be systematic about time. We might start by sketching out what a typical week would look like under our plan (check out my personal productivity system if you need help with this).
How many hours of work would it require? Do we have enough people on staff to execute the plan?
5. Will we need additional resources?
Companies hire additional resources for two reasons:
- They lack a skill
- They lack time to get everything done
If either of these applies, you’ll need to find some help—either from freelance contractors or by making a few new hires.
6. How will we know if we’re on track?
The old saying goes: “What gets measured gets improved.”
We’ve found this to be true.
If we want to drive revenue for an eCommerce client, we’ll measure stats like conversion rate, traffic, and average order value.
Stick with a handful of key metrics to obsess over—5 to 10 at the most. That will keep you focused on improvements in those areas, and it will keep you from drowning in data.
7. When will we stop and measure our progress?
At most companies, the yearly plan gets made, approved, then put on the shelf to collect dust. As far as I can tell, this usually happens because there is no active monitoring of the plan’s objectives.
At Adept, we review key performance stats on a daily basis.
This is critical. It’s the only way to ensure we’re on track with our plan. I believe it’s also the major reason we hit our targets at the end of the year—and why many companies don’t.
Proper Planning Leads to Amazing Results
Why do I get excited about planning?
Because I know it produces amazing results.
In fact, this type of planning works so well, I can’t imagine anyone not running their business this way, even though I know it’s actually quite rare.
If you’re making your plan for next year, here’s my advice:
Set your goals, make your plan, decide how to measure, then be fierce about executing.
A year from now, I promise you’ll be glad you did.