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Cross the Finish Line

Posted by David Greer in Performance | 0 comments


Entrepreneurs need to set clear goals to get what they want in their business. The question then becomes what is a clear goal? A clear goal is one where everyone can agree that a finish line has been crossed when you get to the end of a quarter or year.

While the concept might be simple, finding, setting, and making clear goals is often more art than science. When you meet with your senior executive team to set your annual and quarterly goals, look for these three things when goal setting.

1. Face the Brutal Facts

Only when the true challenges facing a business are on the table, can you start figuring out what to do about them. In groups, we can only share our version of the truth if we trust the people we are with. We build trust in many ways, including knowing each other personally, showing that we are there for each other when the going gets tough, and sharing experiences together. Trust takes time. That is why strategic planning must be an ongoing process rather than an end goal. Remember that every time you introduce a new person into your team, you must start over to build trust between the new member and the rest of the team.

2. Always Chose Five or Fewer Goals

Many goals are missed because of competing focus. If everyone is pulling in the same direction, you dramatically increase the chances of achieving a goal. When everyone is wildly off in all directions you create a lot of noise and little actually gets achieved. When doing your strategic planning, it is challenging to limit your goals. Entrepreneurs want to spread risk and having more goals seems like you are reducing risk. The opposite is true–go big for a handful of goals. By the end of a quarter you will know you are on track or not. A quarter is long enough to get a lot done and short enough that you can still recover in the next quarter.

3. Be Crystal Clear on the Finish Line

You can only hold yourself and your team accountable if the finish line is so obvious everyone from front line employee to the chairman of the board knows whether you have crossed the finish line or not. Let’s say you have decided to improve the number of leads by customer referrals. Even if you don’t measure this now, pick a percentage for the year, even if it is arbitrary. An annual goal with a finish line would be “20% of all sales leads are from existing customer referrals.” Your quarterly goal would be “All leads are qualified as to whether they are from existing customer referrals and the percentage is reported weekly.” Note that the reporting frequency is as important as actually doing the measurement. You are building a system so that you can know on a weekly basis where you are with leads from customer referrals.


When you set your quarterly goals, be sure to decide as a team on the celebration you will have when you reach your goals. Have one goal if you hit your goals and one goal if you don’t. Say BBQ lunch with steaks for everyone if you achieve your goals and a lunch with hot dogs if you don’t. Do the celebration either way so that the whole company knows if you crossed the finish line or not.

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