LOW AIM IS A SIN
“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.” - Benjamin Elijah Mays
Once we have our long-term vision, it’s time to break it down into tiny steps: our goals. We don’t just sit back, make a splendid vision board, and hope everything will happen! (But I do hope you make a vision board like Queen Oprah! Or that Mom from the Bling Ring Documentary lol.) It’s not about wishing, it’s about clarifying the actions we must prioritize through our goal-setting process.
Goals are often misunderstood. We can set too many in too short of a timeframe. We aren’t specific enough about the actions and outcomes. And we don’t know how to align them with our vision.
For every year of our vision, our business will have one organizing objective for that year. Our organizing objective gives us a focus for that year. Think of it as a mini-vision within your multi-year statement. After establishing our annual organizing objective, we can set our goals.
When we start the goal-setting process, we want to first identify our revenue streams. Extra points if our goal setting aligns with our Income Chart of Accounts on our P&L. Each revenue stream has its own set of goals.
So to recap, a vision is multi-year and encompasses the entire company; an organizing objective is one year and encompasses the entire company, and goals are anywhere from weeks to months and are specific to revenue streams.
We want to ensure that all of our goals ladder up to our annual organizing objective and long-term vision. Goal setting isn’t about doing it all; it’s about being focused and prioritizing what’s important and being able to confidently say no to what isn't. Goals are building blocks, or as Bob Wiley says, baby steps.
All goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable (they stretch us but aren’t nonsensical), Relevant (to our vision), and Timed. Specificity is the key to clarifying what you and your team need to do to make the company vision a reality. And giving a timed deadline helps us stay accountable to progress.
The types of goals we set include:
Financial: We can easily get stuck at revenue goals, but financial goals also include pricing goals, cost savings goals, profit margin (both gross and net) goals, salary goals, benefits goals, and saving money to re-invest into the business. Financial goals are most successful when broken down into the smallest building blocks. Don't just tell us what your sales goals are for the year, but how much that is each day.
Marketing & Sales: If you missed Beyond the Feed last week, you missed the opportunity to deep dive into marketing goals and learn just how expansive this category actually is. We've been trained to think that goals like followers or reach or ROAS are actually having an impact when really, each business is so nuanced that those might not even be relevant to ours. These goals can range from connecting to new customers or increasing our returning customers, to conversions, to increasing AOV, to lifetime value, and many more. If we don't understand the nuance of our vision and culture, we are likely aiming for marketing goals with little relevance to what we're trying to achieve.
Operations & Personnel: These goals have everything to do with infrastructure. How we build our systems, tools, team, and culture. Most often, when students graduate from the Business Growth Program, their first priority is building the infrastructure before thinking about growth. We'll dig into this much deeper in the coming weeks when we get into the second section of the miniMBA.
Production: How far out do you plan your production? One year? Three months? Our aim is a 3-year production plan with goals that range from research through launch through assessment. Three years might seem like a long time, and yes, you could change your mind, but without that roadmap, you're likely cutting corners, rushing phases of development, and not getting the most out of your launch.
Once we set them, it’s important to map out the deadlines on the calendars and ask ourselves if the workload is actually attainable. Consistency in execution is more important than overwhelming ourselves.