Joshua Conran is the Managing Partner at Deksia.View all articles written by this author
Failure. It’s a terrifying prospect that means different things to different entrepreneurs. For some, failure means your venture flat-out crashes and burns. But for many more, failure means falling vastly short of your goals each year.
What’s the reason? The short answer is, it’s you.
I’m not saying you don’t have a great business and an outstanding product. In fact, over the course of my career, the majority of small business leaders I’ve come across have both viable products and a big vision. But they usually have another thing in common. They have no way to achieve that vision this year or in years to come.
They have no strategy.
Now, you may be thinking this doesn’t describe you or that you’re the exception. Chances are, you’re wrong.
Are you doing the same thing and expecting different results?
Earlier today, I spoke with a business owner in eastern Michigan who’s doing $1.5 million in annual sales. He told me that his goal for 2018 was to reach $2.5 million. Historically, his growth rate has hovered around 12-15%. This year, he wants to achieve 80% growth and, admittedly, has no plan. He told me he would “figure it out,” but I know he won’t. He’ll try tactics similar to those he’s tried before and see how it ends up—the same way he’s done for the last five years.
Here’s my prediction: When I talk to him this December, he’ll be finishing up 2018 with the usual results. He’ll still be profitable. He’ll still grow 12-15%, maybe even 20%. But he’ll be right back where he started, wondering how to achieve that 80% growth.
As a small business owner for the last 15 years, I’ve found myself in similar situations. And I’ve seen it from others year after year. They try the same thing and fail in the same ways.
What you need is a strategy.
If you’re hoping to succeed by accident or you’re looking for a silver bullet, I can confidently say it’s not going to happen to you. The most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders not only have a vision, but a plan. They work that plan relentlessly. They measure and adjust.
And there’s no reason you, as an entrepreneur, can’t do the same things. This year, why not try a new approach and get different results?
The most successful entrepreneurs see the finish line before they determine how to get there. Are you working toward a 50% increase in revenue? Do you need to hire 3 new employees? Whatever your desired outcome, be specific. This is the essential first step in determining your best course of action.
Now that you have your goals, you need a clear path. Before you go launching campaigns, keep in mind that tactics alone won’t get you very far. Any tactic is only as good as the strategy behind it. Every move you make should point back to your overall strategy if you want to achieve predictable success.
In order to measure success, you need metrics in place. If leads are important to you, make sure your tactics are converting. If you’re looking to boost your awareness, determine how many eyes are seeing your products. Be realistic. Remember to walk before you run. Using metrics you believe you can actually reach will put you in a strong position moving forward.
Building and executing a plan is only half the battle. Keep a close eye on your established metrics. If things aren’t going as scheduled, it’s time to adjust and move on. You don’t have to start over from scratch every time. Pay close attention all year long and make incremental changes as needed.
While the business owner I talked to earlier is only delaying his success for another year, you don’t have to make the same mistake. Even if you don’t reach your ultimate goal this year, I can guarantee you’ll be significantly closer than ever before.
I dare you to come back in January 2019 and tell me I’m wrong.