When it comes to making your business future-proof, an often overlooked element is vision. It's so easy to get lost in the day-to-day work, but at the heart of every agile and successful small business is a clear, overarching vision that guides and informs decision-making processes.
A vision statement describes the desired future situation of your organisation in a few short sentences. It is often supported by a mission statement that defines the company’s business, its objectives and its approach to reach them. Elements of both – vision and mission – are often combined as one mission statement of the company’s purposes, goals and values that can be further broken down into smaller objectives and KPIs.
At a micro level, a business year consists of cycles like weeks or quarters. To ensure the business stays on track during these cycles, you need to set smart objectives that give your team direction and make results measurable. This is accomplished by setting goals and KPIs, and measuring key data points. Achieving these goals will take you towards your vision and keep your business on track. What’s more, a well-defined mission will make your business able to adapt to any changes to come.
But how do you know the right objectives to choose? Good objectives should both motivate your team and drive business success. Let's explore how to create effective goals, KPIs, metrics and company vision.
Note: KPI vs metric – What’s the difference?
Many people confuse these two. A metric is a raw measurement: examples would be sales revenue, website bounce rate, or a conversion rate. A KPI takes this number and frames it as a goal. For example: “We want to increase landing page conversion by 1% by the end of Q2.”
So, how can clear goals and metrics help future-proof your business? Especially in times of uncertainty, it's crucial to have a clear overview of all aspects of your business. If you can measure something, you can see whether or not it is working. If something is going well, you can optimise it; if something is off-target, you can do a deep dive into the process and identify potential improvements. All of this is only possible if goals and objectives are defined.
Another key advantage of clear goal setting is the important role it plays in the company's vision and mission.
Let’s use a specific example: LinkedIn’s vision statement is as follows: “To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.” This statement is aspirational and where the company would like to be in the future. Whereas LinkedIn’s mission statement is: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” This statement is focussed on where the company wants to be today.
Clearly, many goals support this mission statement, such as providing the best possible service to its users.
Metrics or KPIs can be used to track the company’s success as it moves towards achieving its mission. Examples could be to increase daily active users by 3% in 2020 or to increase time spent using the LinkedIn mobile app by 5% in Q4 of this year.
The same is true for the vision statement. By tracking big picture KPIs such as total number of users and their satisfaction could tell the company how close they are to achieving their vision.
And how does all this help future-proof your business? The process of knowing what to optimise and what to improve is crucial in providing the best possible customer experience. It also keeps your business healthy as you are constantly reviewing what needs to change in a highly measurable way. While goals can change over time, they always inform the long-term strategy.
It may be difficult to know where to start when it comes to goal setting. To help add clarity to your goals, we have collected a few best practices and dive into a little light goal-setting theory to get you up and running. Try using some of the following tips and techniques to start setting more specific and effective goals today:
SMART is a well-established system for setting goals. It says that all goals should meet the following criteria:
Using SMART is also a great way to define KPIs because it contains all the right ingredients.
An Example: “Improve ad ROI by increasing the conversion rate by 2% in the current campaign cycle.”
You can see that many tactics could be used to try and achieve the above KPI, such as trying different creative content (images, text). The important thing is that your efforts are now measurable and you have defined a successful outcome.
V2MOM is a framework used by Salesforce which stands for vision, values, methods, obstacles and measures. In short, it identifies the most crucial aspects of any goal and any potential obstacles. The questions you ask in V2MOM help you to create better goals for your team and your business. Learn more in our Trailhead module.
Most companies work in a project-based manner. But even in projects, it is sometimes easy to get lost in all of the subtasks and forget about the big picture. On a per-project basis, try to define KPIs and goals that keep your team on track. If a team member encounters anything that blocks their goal, offer an open forum for them to raise it. In this way, creating goals can help empower your team to identify and overcome hurdles.
It’s great to have internal goals and objectives. But ultimately, it’s the customer who will either choose your product – or reject it. It's therefore important to keep the customer in mind and choose goals that are aligned with your customer base. A few simple examples of KPIs could be as follows: that over 65% of users would recommend your product to a friend; or that 75% or more users would recommend a specific feature; or if you have recently improved a feature or your service that 10% more users would recommend it after the upgrade.
While key metrics like sales revenues are undoubtedly important, often it's worth looking a little deeper to see if you can find better, more specific goals. Sit down with your team and define goals that are specific to their tasks. The above-mentioned V2MOM method can help a lot with this. For social media managers, this could be audience reach targets; for marketing and sales, it might be leads. The point is that goals should empower your team and not feel like generic targets.
While visions such as “create an excellent digital experience for our users” tend to be long-term business goals, the objectives you set to get there can change over time. If circumstances change, you will need to adapt your business strategy. For example, you may move from a purely organic to a paid strategy when promoting your content.
Clearly, goals and KPIs are an essential part of every small business. But manually measuring all this data is nearly impossible – having the right technology in place helps you a lot. Collating data from different sources and spreadsheets can make transparent goal-setting difficult. A CRM tool can solve this problem by collecting all the customer data you need in one easy to view dashboard. Most good Customer Relationship Managers (CRMs) including Salesforce CRM can easily collect sales, marketing and customer service data, and even automate most aspects of tedious data processing. This makes goal setting intuitive and easy.
Done correctly, goals can empower your teams, identify hurdles and take you closer to your company vision. Start future-proofing your business today by setting the right objectives for your company.
For more tips on how to motivate your employees as well as how tech will help you face new challenges and inspire growth, download our latest ebook Get Your SME Ready For The Future.