Reaching your goals by execution

Susan created a startup to do document management for medium sized businesses. Having a mission, vision and execution strategy in place, she believes she is on the right track to get a product market fit – but has a problem executing the strategy that she has pinned down.

This situation is not unique. 70 % of strategic transformations fail – and the rate of startups and small businesses failing is close behind this number. As a matter of survival, we need to measure the health of our business and then determine if we are on track to reach our goals.

The different strategies for different businesses

I find that there are three different types of company structures: organisations with high levels of uncertainty, businesses with a formula and big corporates. Each of these have different aims, goals and execution paths. 

Organisations with high levels of uncertainty – those doing groundbreaking work and have no existing frameworks to lead from, would require a lean build-measure-learn approach. For example, in the above startup, Susan might need to pivot at some stage. This might happen when her customers expect a different strategic alignment of her offering to their vision. 

Many small businesses have a formula that they can use to achieve their vision. This includes the insurance tech – Ubelele wrote an excellent article here on how you can use a formula to launch an insurance app (Naked, Simply, JaSure).

You also have a corporate strategy. There are generally three strategies that are focused on:

  • Growth strategy – when a big business is looking to expand its services, products and offering
  • Stability strategy – when an organization keeps the status quo and adds more stability to its existing infrastructure.
  • Renewal strategy – if there is a decline in the performance of an organization. This would either mean retrenchment or a turnaround strategy.

Breaking down the execution

If you are working in an environment with a high level of uncertainty, you need to break it down into bite sized chunks. This can be broken down as many times as needed. Being overwhelmed, you need to decide on an area of focus. 

In the book “The 4 disciplines of execution”, the authors refer to a concept called WIGs – wildly important goals. WIGs are small, dial lifting changes that can be implemented to move your company forward. If you can reach this small goal, then it would have a huge impact on your business, revenue, inter alia freeing up time. 

These can be decided weekly or bi-weekly.

Focus on small wins

In some cases, the WIGs can sometimes be big wins – and can take two weeks to execute. Make effort to break it down into smaller daily wins. Remember – you need to motivate yourself (and your staff) to grow your business in the right direction.

And small daily wins can serve as a great motivation

Aligning staff members

Though this section deserves an article by itself, I want to touch on staff and your strategy.

Many businesses do not engage staff meaningfully. Staff members need to do the grunt work, without the a clear buy-in of the vision. Make it a priority to communicate your vision and strategy on how to get there with your staff members. 

They need to feel valued and part of the plan.

Make sure expectations are communicated, measured and broken down accordingly.

Align KPIs and performance to the goal – this is why you have KPIs and performance reviews in the first place.

The power to say no

As a small business owner, I find that there are many opportunities that come my way – anything from fun little projects, startups looking for a technology parter to large projects where you need a team of hundreds of developers. 

To align my company with the vision and strategy, I have learnt the power to say no.

When you say no to something, you say yes to something else.

It is not wrong to say no to a project that is easy money – you need to make tough decisions to align yourself to who you want to become. If it does not fit into your vision or strategy, then say no. 

Measure & evaluate

No company can move forward without vision. 

Without implementation of a strategic roadmap, you will never get where you want to be. But how do you know your actions have the desired effect? Are you moving in the right direction? 

For this there needs to be a measurable outcome to your goals, mini goals and tasks. The smaller the measurement, the quicker you will be able to get back on track if you have strayed away from the main goals. These measurements can take many forms. Here are some examples:

  • Do weekly evaluations if the customers you have and attract are in alignment with your company vision
  • For software development projects – checking if the velocity and tickets align with the end goal (e.g. delivery date of a specific feature)
  •  Financial alignment with features and services added – Use dashboards to see the impact of your changes

Conclusion

In some cases, a formula can be followed for growth. For startups and businesses in an environment of high uncertainty, it might not be as simple as to have a clear long term goal other than client take up and financial stability.

The key concept in reaching your goals in business is execution – we need to action our plans to achieve. 

If your goals are too big, then add mini goals. Add tasks. Add sprints.

Be efficient in measuring your outcome. You need to know within two weeks if you are not on target to achieve your goals. 

Enjoy your business. 


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