It’s a new year! Time for planning, strategery and general optimism about the year! Whatever happened in 2009, now is the time to figure out where you want to be at the end of 2010 and start taking steps to get there. The first step for any strategy is to decide on a goal. And a good Internet strategy starts with a good business goal. Here’s what I think makes a good business goal…
Whatever planning or strategy you’re doing – you always start with a business goal. While a specific strategy (say Internet) may also have it’s own related goals, everything needs to work towards your overall business goal if you want to make things work as efficiently as possible. If you don’t have a goal – one that is clearly defined (and reachable!), you’ll never know if you’ve reached your destination. It also makes it difficult to figure out where your business is from year to year – what’s working, what’s not and what you should improve.
Simple & Easy to Understand
A simple, easy-to-understand business goal is key to making sure everyone is on the same page. If your goal is something than only an MBA or CFO would understand, it’ll be difficult to rally the troops. A good goal is something that anyone in the company can understand (and does understand). You want to make sure everyone is working for the same thing or you may find that everyone is paddling in a different direction and you’re going nowhere fast.
Many executives believe in setting what are called “stretch goals” because everyone really has to “stretch” in order to reach them. The idea is that if you set your sights high, you’ll aim high and achieve high. While there is certainly something to this sentiment, if you never reach any goals because they’re way too high, goals become meaningless and people don’t try as hard to reach them. I think setting reachable goals and actually achieving them is good for morale and for business in general (but don’t take my word for it).
A Rallying Point
Ideally the whole company (and all your vendors) should be working to move you in the same direction, so goals set for departments or projects should all be related to your overall business goal (although there may also be other business reasons for projects and strategies – related to long-term vision, for example). If you’re creating an Internet strategy for 2010, any goals or achievements should help you achieve your business goal.
Where do you want your business to be in 5 years? In 10? It helps to always keep one eye on the long-term horizon when planning, strategizing and setting goals. How does this year’s goal help move you in the direction of your long term vision?
So, we want a simple, easy-to-understand, reachable goal which rallies the troops and moves you in the direction of your long-term vision. It may sound a bit complicated, but if you think about it for awhile, it’ll probably start to make sense. Let’s work through an example…
Imagine that you’re the owner of a home-based business. You would like to be able to hire employees (instead of contractors) in 2 years. What do you need to do to get there? Well, to be able to hire employees, you probably want a fairly stable income stream at a level which makes you comfortable with being responsible for reoccurring payroll (this level is probably different for everyone). To get to that stable level of income, you probably need to increase sales this year. Now, if you look at your sales from last year and think about what’s reachable this year, you might decide on this goal: Increasing sales by 20% in 2010. See? Just a simple business goal, but it might take a bit of thinking to get there.
Once you have a business goal, you can start thinking about how you can use the Internet to help achieve your goal. I’ll cover more on that in upcoming posts.