Last updated on July 20, 2017
Most team planning is a mess:
The result reflects the process: Bad goals which lead to a stagnating business.
But there are some companies who do goal setting better than anyone else.
MeetEdgar is one of those companies.
Recently, my friend Laura Roeder — the CEO and founder of MeetEdgar — showed me how she used effective goal setting to grow her company to $4 million ARR last year.
😳 Damn. Can I borrow some money? 💰💰💰
MeetEdgar uses a variation of the Rockefeller Habits to create killer effective goals and grow rapidly.
I was so impressed I had to get ALL the juicy details.
Take it away, Laura...
Before launching my social media scheduling tool MeetEdgar, I ran a social media consultancy.
One of the biggest questions my clients asked was how to plan and set the right kinds of goals for a business.
After years of experimenting, I finally found the formula which worked for me and my businesses.
For MeetEdgar, proper goal setting and creating meaningful goals has meant $4 million ARR in three years.
Even better, we’re poised for BIGGER growth this year.
You’ll notice our growth is slow, but steady. No ups-and-downs, no big dips.
Best of all, understanding how to set goals and achieve them doesn’t mean you have to list a million different to-dos and work 17 hours a day.
This is the EXACT goal setting worksheet we used to focus MeetEdgar’s goals in the first quarter:
|Get the goal setting spreadsheet you can use for your own business|
Setting manageable goals is how you reverse-engineer success — and see growth in your own business.
To help you and your business, I’m going to give you the step-by-step strategies and goal setting examples I used at MeetEdgar to go from $0 to $4 million ARR in only three years.
You’ll learn how to set goals and achieve them — but first, let’s take a look at what you’re doing wrong.
Effective goal setting isn’t focusing on the end result. Instead, it’s focusing on steps you take to reach your goal.
Here’s what that looks like in an everyday business context...
You might say, “My business goal for next year is to build a better marketing strategy.”
This is too broad.
What does a “better marketing” strategy mean in practical, actionable terms? How do you know when you’re on the right path?
My favorite strategy is to take a big, broad goal and break it down into specific action items. For example:
Effective goal setting needs to be specific if you want to grow your business.
Setting goals the right way is how I’ve grown MeetEdgar to $4 million ARR with 30 employees.
Noah used the same strategy to build an 8-figure business.
Goal setting isn’t always as easy as saying “I’m going to go as specific as possible.” There’s a balancing act between art and science.
Your “painted picture” is what you want for your business long-term.
This means thinking about more than only the numbers.
At MeetEdgar, our painted picture and is broken into three parts:
In each of the three parts, we focus on dreaming three years into the future. This helps get our creative juices flowing.
Here’s an excerpt for the painted picture for our product:
Edgar is a focused tool, and a tool with a point of view. Edgar guides customers through best practices of how to be effective, like suggesting categories and how frequently to post. Customers just point Edgar towards what they’ve created and he does the rest! Our customers love how easy and hands-off using Edgar feels, and love all the support we provide for the best possible outcome both within the tool and in one-on-one conversations.
2. Our painted picture for the industry:
We are no longer pitching our team to speak on stage, be featured on podcasts, be featured in blog posts, etc. Instead of our entire team is swamped with these kinds of requests because we’ve become so well known in our industry. Instead of soliciting these opportunities we spend our time choosing the most effective ones.
3. Finally, our painted picture for the company:
Our workplace feels like a place where our values (kindness, ownership, and Value For Value) are really lived every day. Limiting the size of our team was the right choice as we are past the churn of constant hiring and are able to keep improving and optimizing our structures and workflows. We are a small but mighty team and we love how fast we can move.
Other successful entrepreneurs — like Noah — set visions for business succes, too.
Once you have a clear idea of your long-term vision for your business, you can start thinking about where to focus.
Meetings, emails, Slack messages, and “fires” to put out.
Most entrepreneurs live their days reactively. When the day is over, they look at their calendar and think… What did I really get done today?!
FOCUS is critical.
Quarterly, every team at MeetEdgar chooses three “big rocks” for themselves.
The term “rocks” comes from the “Rockefeller Habits,” discussed in the book Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) — and on a a recent episode of Noah's podcast.
The goal of “big rocks” is to align your company on the most critical growth focuses for your business.
As structured in the Rockefeller Habits, your company rocks are goals each team is going to meet within three months.
Here’s a goal setting rock example from our company...
Providing stellar support is important to our three-year painted picture.
To progress towards the goal, here are the big rocks from our Customer Experience team:
Even if they’re not creative, focus on big rock projects to move the needle for your business.
You might have noticed that none of the big rocks in that example from our Customer Experience team were actual KPIs:
Instead, the Customer Experience team’s goal setting focused on actionable goals we could more easily control:
Big rocks are what you can control (something actionable and concrete).
Completing a big rock should put you closer to achieving quantifiable results, like reaching a certain number of new customers.
Want another example? When Noah was the Director of Marketing for Mint.com, he used similar goal setting to grow from 0 to 1 million users in six months.
To keep it simple, we don’t plan for projects longer than three months, because the tech industry changes quickly.
If our big rocks took years to complete, we’d run the risk of not being able to adjust to industry changes (or new interests in our biz).
The result of focusing on “big rocks” has been insane for our business.
Our Customer Experience team median response time has gone from about six hours to less than one.
Happy customers = better retention = more 💰💰💰
You have some of the best support I've ever encountered - @Intercom should use you as a case study! Lovely people, great support,when needed
— donal scannell (@donalscannell) May 1, 2017
In your business, use my 5 favorite questions for finding your biggest rocks
Maybe you want to…
Don’t stop there. Think about the actionable steps you can take to get closer to your goals.
If you want to create your own rock goal setting template, here are a few tips:
|BONUS: Here’s a goal setting spreadsheet you can use for your own business|
Keeping your big rocks in a spreadsheet helps, but only if people actually look at it.
Put it front and center, so nobody — including yourself — can use the “We lost track of the goal” excuse.
When a new quarter approaches, each of our team leaders decides on the three big rocks for their department.
After each department defines their three big rocks for the upcoming quarter, we review them together as a group. Everyone knows each other’s priorities.
Here are our big rocks from Q1 2017:
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the Customer Experience (CX) rocks.
How did we do and what did we learn in Q1?
Some of our Q1 big rocks were successes for the entire company, even though they were determined and completed mostly by a single department.
Four example, our Development team improved our onboarding process. This means better retention and less support requests.
On the other hand, our Development team team also failed with a second rock: Writing three blog posts.
This taught the team that choosing goals outside their usual routine might be too ambitious.
With failures and successes in mind, we adjusted for the big rocks for Q2:
All three Development goals match the team’s usual routine.
Once every team decides on their big rocks, we keep them front and center throughout the quarter.
We hold a company-wide kickoff call every Monday, so each department can provide rock updates — and so we never lose focus on what’s MOST important to grow the business.
Here’s a reminder of your new quarterly planning process:
Do this each quarter and actually accomplish those goals with consistency, and you’ll find that getting yourself to the future you want for your business happens a whole lot faster.
Here’s to helping your business reach $4 million ARR (and beyond)...
If you're serious about growing your business with goal setting, you should do two things:
For every person who retweets and leaves a comment, you'll get a free month of MeetEdgar ($49) value.
EVERYONE who comments and retweets will get a month of MeetEdgar to help double their social media traffic for free. 👍
— MeetEdgar (@MeetEdgar) July 20, 2017
And don't forget to say hi to Laura and the MeetEdgar team.