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Don't Skip a Step!

February 10, 20234 min read

In working with clients, I find that many clients attempt to move from goals to tactics to accomplish their goals.  Doing so keeps them from succeeding. 

There are 3 steps to accomplishing goals.  If you omit one, you will increase your failure rate.  Read more to discover each step and how they work together to help you succeed.

Step #1 – Develop Clear Goals!

While clear goals may seem obvious, many leaders do not have clear goals.  They have goals, but they are not clear. 

Clear goals should be in writing.  What precisely are you attempting to do?  Can you describe your goals in a short sentence?  The more concise and clear your goals are, the more likely you will achieve them. 

Goals are your WHAT.  For example, I want to increase my net profit from $500,000 to $850,000 during the next calendar year.  That’s a precise goal.  Notice it refers to “net income.”  That means after paying all your expenses, you will have $850,000 left over.  You have also given yourself 12 months to accomplish your goal.  That’s your goal.

Once you set your goal, the temptation is to think about what tactics you will use to accomplish your goal.  That’s a mistake.  Before you move to tactics, you must plan.

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Step # 2 – Determine Your Plan!

Many people move from goals to tactics.  That’s a big mistake.  Think of tactics as your “TOOLS.”  See Step # 3 to understand more. 

You don’t want to choose your “tools” before you determine your plan.  Think of building a treehouse for your children.  Before you run out to Lowe’s or Home Depot to buy a bunch of tools, you must develop a plan to build the treehouse.  Your plan is your BLUEPRINT.  You can’t determine what tools you need until have a plan. 

Skipping the planning stage will keep you from reaching your goal.  Planning is often the hardest stage.  You come up with an idea and immediately want to take action to get it done. 

Don’t skip the planning stage.  For example, if your goal is to increase your net profit from $500,000 to $850,000 over the next 12 months, how are you going to do this? 

Developing a strategy or plan to accomplish your goal is super important.  Until you have a plan, you are not ready to take action.  Developing a plan requires deep thought. 

Developing a plan might start with where you have the greatest potential to increase your profit.  Do you have a product or service that produces higher margins of profitability? 

The tendency is to think that if I just work harder, I will reach my goal.  Not necessarily.  You can work harder at selling a service or product with smaller margins, only to discover that your net profitability did not increase that much. 

I have a former client who was a handyman.  He made himself available to clients to help with various needs in their homes.  He shared with me his goal was to increase his income to $100,000 and work around 45 hours per week.  As we talked, I asked what type of work he did that produced the most profit.  He responded by saying, “Doing ceramic work.”  He told me that if he did ceramic work, he could “make $1,000 per day.”  After making sure he liked doing ceramic work and that he did well at ceramic work, he shifted his business from being a general handyman to focusing on bathroom and kitchen remodeling. 

Shortly after our discussion, he bid on a bathroom remodel for $36,000.  The project took a few weeks and netted him $25,000.  Previously he would have made approximately $3,000-$5000 net by working the same amount of time.  On his bathroom job, he made $25,000 net.  Big difference!


5 Simple Steps to Growing a Business

Step # 3 – Choose Your Tactics!

Think of tactics as “TOOLS.”  You can’t choose your tools until you determine your plan.  Back to the treehouse.  You don’t know what tools to buy until you draw up the plans to build the treehouse.  Your plans will determine what to buy.  You will need certain equipment and parts (lag screws, lumber size, saw, drill, etc.). 

Tactics are areas such as marketing, sales, etc.  Back to my handyman client.  Once he determined he was going to shift to doing primarily ceramic work, he began to advertise his company for ceramic work.  He became known as the “go to” guy for bathroom and kitchen remodels.  His margins and profitability increased.

Remember that $36,000 bathroom remodel.  That job was in an older section of a large city with nice homes that were beginning to show their age.  I encouraged him to ask the homeowner if he could throw a party once the job was completed.  She agreed to invite all her friends from the neighborhood to celebrate her bathroom renovation.  From that celebration, he received 2 additional bathroom renovation jobs! 

This approach is simple but not easy.  Each step is important.  It’s challenging to have clear goals.  It’s time-consuming to establish a good plan.  It’s challenging to choose the right tactics or “tools.” 

Each step is important.  Don’t shortchange yourself or your company by skipping over one of these steps.  Work through each step to assure that you will accomplish what you want to do!

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Dave Pennington PhD

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