I love Olympic curling. I could watch it all day.
The intensity, the drive, the strategy, the execution.
It’s insanely exciting and captivating.
Last weekend, the US Olympic men’s curling team took gold in a knock out battle with Sweden. People were yelling. Stones were flying. And grown men were crying.
It was an incredible game won by flawless execution and a superior strategy.
But What the Hello Kitty Was Going On?
When I first watched curling, I was confused. Was that a bad throw? Why would they place the stone there? Why not rocket your stone right into the middle, blasting the other stones off the ice?
I’m sure my confusion wasn’t unique. Olympic curling isn't something many of us do every day...
But even in life and business, it's easy to share a similar confusion.
Have a goal? Shoot straight for it, some would say. Crush it. Aimlessly knock everything else out of the way.
Sounds good in theory. But in practice?
Want to squat 400 pounds? Just throw the weight on on the bar and go for it!
Want to make an extra $1M in revenue this year? Just do it!
Motivating... but not helpful.
In practice, we can’t just go for it and expect to attain results. We need a strategy. A plan for getting from point A to point B. More than that, we need to consider what will prevent us from achieving our goal every step of the way.
If we don’t, our competition will derail us.
Business Strategy is Fundamental to Achieving Growth
That’s why I harp on having a strategy for your business.
Not some complex strategy worthy of a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company. No, just a plan to get from point A to point B with consideration for each of those steps along the way.
After all, the US Men’s Olympic Curling team won gold with only minutes (not hours) of planning and adjusting during the match.
How do you do that? How do you build a legitimate roadmap for the purpose-filled growth you desire? Try these steps:
1. Set an overarching goal for your business.
Already done this? Great. Just double-check it for me.
Is your goal achievable? Does your goal have a timeline? Is your goal assigned to an owner (hint: if it's your goal, it should be you)?
If it’s missing any of those critical characteristics, fix it quickly.
Let's look at an example. Say our goal is to make an additional $1 million in revenue. We could all stand to achieve that, right?
But when do you need that extra $1M? Put a timeline on it. Let’s say one year from now. Is it achievable? Let’s say yes. Is it assigned to someone? No, but let’s assign it to you for now.
2. From there, break down your goal into smaller goals over time.
For our $1M revenue target 12 months from now, we should set incremental targets of $83,333.33 per month ($1,000,000 divided by 12 months). Let's just round up to $85k... it always helps to be ahead of your goal whenever possible.
If we need $85k per month, that means we need $21,250 per week. Just call it $22k :-).
And, if we need $22k per week, that means we need $4,400 every business day (assuming a 5-day workweek).
3. Set up a tracking system.
You want to visualize where you stand in relation to your goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. In many cases, a simple Excel spreadsheet will do the trick.
Just make sure you store it in a place that's easily accessible and in your face 24/7. I leave my "goals dashboard" running at all times on my computer. Whenever I boot up, my goals dashboard starts too.
I also track these goals in my notebook... on paper (gasp).
4. Ask yourself how to achieve your goals, daily.
Every morning (or sometimes the night before), I ask myself a question from The One Thing:
“What is the ONE thing I can do today such that, by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
Then I write that in my notebook and schedule it on my calendar. NOTHING else gets done until my ONE thing gets done for every one of my goals.
I can usually attribute any wasted days to something (or someone) getting in the way of my ONE thing. On other days, my ONE thing is the only thing I accomplish. But those are the days that feel like a success.
5. Adjust weekly/monthly/quarterly.
My goals never track perfectly with my breakdown. I'm either too far ahead (telling me that my goals were set too low) or too far behind (telling me I need to pick up the pace).
Sometimes I find that my goals were never achievable to begin with; often because I now know something I didn't know when I set them.
In all of these cases, it's important to review and adjust your goals on a recurring basis. I look at where I stand weekly, monthly, and quarterly.
My weekly reviews are simple spot-checks. I ask myself what I did right, what I should have done differently, what I should give up, and what I should delegate.
My monthly reviews are a bit more reflective. Even after only one month, I can begin to see a trendline forming. Either I'm going to hit my goal at the end of the year, or I'm not. If I'm not, I start asking what I can do differently to readjust.
On a quarterly review, I'm assessing whether I need to change or my goal needs to change. To be clear, this is not something to be taken lightly. Before changing a goal, I try everything in my power to achieve it. There are times, however, where you learn something new that changes the playing field giving you no choice but to modify the end-game.
But That's Not a Strategy...
Great, you've set some goals for yourself. You've broken them down into bite-sized chunks. You've set up a tracking system, ask yourself how to achieve your goals daily, and adjust on a recurring basis. But guess what?
That's not a strategy.
Not entirely. Sure, you've set a specific aim for yourself by defining a company goal. You've even got a system in place for tracking and measuring yourself against that goal. But you're missing a few components:
- A plan to capitalize on your strengths to help you achieve your goals.
- Focus on a specific target market, aligning all actions toward your goal with your end customers.
- Clarity on your offering such that it aligns with your target market, capitalizes on your strengths, and helps you move closer to your goals.
With these in place, you will see the steps necessary for your business to grow with purpose and speed. You'll also have defined your strategy with enough clarity to easily adjust when your competition gets in your way.
Finally, when you tell your team to "just do it," they'll have the strategy in place to know exactly what you're talking about, and the focus to follow through and achieve results.
That’s a Strategy
Strategy takes you from where you are to where you want to go in measured, planned steps. A good strategy helps you stand out from your opponents. A better strategy helps get a spot on the podium. The best strategy lets you crush your competition in victorious, gold medal-winning defeat... leaving you on the top crying tears of joy while listening to your national anthem.
Okay, I got carried away, but it’s true!
And that’s why these curling phenoms don’t shoot straight for the center. If they did, their competition would just knock them out. They know they must anticipate their competitor's moves and place themselves in a position to win. So they place their stones carefully, strategically, adjusted for the moment yet always with the end goal in mind.
That's what I want for my business and yours. To recap:
- Don't just "go for it."
- Set your goals.
- Break down your goals into bite-sized chunks.
- Set up a tracking system for your goals.
- Review your goals daily.
- Adjust your goals weekly/monthly/quarterly.
- Capitalize on your strengths.
- Align your goals with your end customer.
- Clarify your offering.
See you on the podium!
About the Author
CO-FOUNDER | TECHNOLOGY, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING, AND SALES
Mike Mehlberg helps entrepreneurs and business owners develop a clear and focused strategy to stand out in their market, outsmart their competition, and achieve maximum sales impact. Email him at mike at moderndavinci.net to grow your business with purpose and speed.