This is a transcript of episode 46 of the OMGrowth podcast.
I’m Lanie Lamarre and fun fact: I know I sound perky and light-hearted, and yet I enjoy very aggressive music.
I also enjoy planning in a way that aligns me to actually achieving my goals and in my experience, you need two things for this to happen: 1) you need targets – something like a key performance indicators or maybe milestones – however you label it, you need to point at something; and 2) you need a schedule because what’s a goal with a deadline: just a dream!
So now that I’ve hit my quota for cute quotables in a podcast intro, let’s get into the actual episode, shall we?
You’ve heard of procrasti-planning, right? It’s the concept of planning for the sake of “doing” something without ever really moving ahead or making progress. How do you avoid becoming a procrasti-planner? Make sure that your planning process always includes milestones and KPIs (or what the cool kids call key performance indicators).
DEFINING YOUR KPIs AND MILESTONE
I’m going to come in hot with this one because the reason you want to set milestones and KPIs is simple: it sets expectations.
Goals are great. Setting the expectations you have of those goals is even better!
And just as you typically have just a few goals you’re focused on, you’re going to select just a few milestones or KPIs in order to represent your focus, your progress and yes, your expectations.
I love examples so let’s use one: let’s say your goal is to sell 10% more of your signature product than you did last quarter. This is an excellent goal because it’s taking what you already have in terms of products and results, and you’re seeking to improve on those.
So what has to happen for you to sell 10% more? You pick any number of things, such as:
- Increasing your traffic from social media through ads;
- Increasing your reach with joint venture webinars that upsell to your course;
- Implementing an evergreen email sequence that promotes your offer on auto-pilot to new or targeted email subscribers.
You’ll choose whatever strategy you want to implement and then ask yourself, “what needs to happen for this to be deemed successful?”. This is how you’ll determine your KPIs and milestones.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all, and what you use as your KPIs and milestones will not only depend on the strategy you pick but also what you value. For instance, if you go the paid ads route, you’ll likely want to target a specific number of sign-ups that will get you to that +10% mark, but you’ll also have to determine the cost per lead you’re targeting and the return-on-investment you’re expecting.
If you need help figuring these types of things out, that what The ROI Calculators I have available are designed to take the guesswork out of doing, but you will need to have those baseline numbers figured out BEFORE you start investing in your ads to determine whether or not your efforts were successful and your goal was achieved.
Likewise if you’re going the joint venture webinar route: you want to start by establishing exactly how many more sales you’re looking to make, and then figure out how many people you’ll need to collaborate with and what your expectations are for sales with each collaborator in order to hit that number.
Same deal with establishing an evergreen sequence: how many sales do you need to make to meet your goal, and then how many people does that mean you need to funnel through your evergreen sequence with what conversion rate.
For any goal you have, you want to set a baseline number you have that would meet your expectations; then, you want to figure out what the breakdown is – in numbers and percentages – that would enable you to meet that expectation you set out.
Let’s go back to our cross-stitch worthy quote for a moment, though, and remember that a goal without a deadline is just a dream.
ESTABLISHING “HOW” AND “WHAT”
Unless you’re doing a launch or something major like that, your growth and results will typically be incremental. This is why you want to not only create goals and milestones, but to create a schedule for these.
Let’s stick with the last example of putting an evergreen sales funnel in place: you’ll need to schedule time to write the emails, create the sales pages, set up the automations – these among a whole bunch of other things required by this promotional strategy you’re putting in place – and they’ll all have to be done before a single sale gets made. So is it then realistic for you to put the pressure and expectation of increasing your sales by 10% on this one strategy?
Your expectations need to account for the learning curve and the resources you’re imposing on them.
The simplest way to do that is to break down all of the singular tasks that need to be done to get to where you’re going, and then put them on a schedule.
SCHEDULING YOUR EXPECTATIONS
There are 3 ways you can schedule your expectations, and I recommend you use a project management system like Airtable to do this for you. My preference IS Airtable because I’m a very visual boss – I need to LITERALLY SEE how all of the pieces come together for me to properly process them – and in my humble, project management-driven opinion, their time-based views can’t be beat.
You can always use a simple CALENDAR VIEW, which is always better than nothing because it’s like, “hard stop, boss: this is due” and that’s always helpful. Of course, it’s best with one-off deliverables like content planning or social media scheduling.
But when you have more project-based plans – and when we’re talking about goals that have KPIs and milestones, we most certainly are talking about something that will require more advanced scheduling requirements – you’ll want to use either a TIMELINE VIEW or a GANTT CHART. Let’s look at when and why you would use either.
Picture an Olympic sized pool with swim lanes and all. Everyone on your team is beginning from the starting line – always a good place to start – and we’re all working towards reaching the same goal at that finish line – also a good place to end!
When you schedule using a timeline view, it’s almost like playing Tetris with those swim lanes; you’re allotting tasks based on the resources available to you and the time you expect to see them through.
So let’s stick with the example of wanting to increase your sales by 10% next quarter using a shiny new evergreen sequence: your goal here isn’t the evergreen funnel but rather, making SALES from the evergreen funnel. This means your swim lanes need to be front-loaded with implementing all of those deliverables.
And maybe your team already have things to do or recurring tasks. When you schedule things in timeline views – taking that swim lane approach – you’re able to see the big picture of how your resources are being allocated, whether you’re over-loading certain people and making the best use of your team.
Even if you’re the only Olympian in the pool – kicking it solopreneur style – by planning in that swim lane view, you can easily identify what your expectations are imposing on your workload and whether that’s realistic when it accounts for your other requirements.
What I swoon hard for when it comes to Timeline Views is that I can actually just brain dump everything I have to do, and then go into my Timeline View to redistribute my tasks in a way that visually makes sense for the time I have to work with. Oftentimes, I’ll see that – wow! – my expectations for Month 2 are goofy and I have very little on the roster for Month 1 so let’s shift a few things in the schedule to better balance things.
Sometimes, though, you can’t just move tasks to accommodate the gaps because you have dependencies: this is where a GANTT CHART comes into play.
So sticking with the evergreen funnel example: you would need the sales pages in place and the emails written BEFORE you put the automations in place, right? Those items need to be produced and ready to go because the automations you’ll then put in place depend on them.
When your planning requires one task to be completed before the next one can be done, you’ll want to use a Gantt chart.
But again, you can easily swim those tasks and deliverables around to accommodate what space is available to you and your resources.
So here’s your ACTION ITEM…
Because yes, I love Airtable and am admittedly bias when it comes to using the easy drag-and-drop features for scheduling… but you don’t have to stare at a screen to do this, either.
You can get an erasable wall calendar – if you think and brainstorm better that way – and use highlighters to identify your tasks and resources. It’ll be harder to edit but it’s also light-years easier than trying to plan without that visual response to seeing what is due, when it’s due and whether you’re even able to stay on track with your goals.
Your action item is to not just put goals in place like “I’m going to 10x my business” or “I’m going to have a whatever-figure month”: establish what has to happen for you to achieve that, breakdown what numbers you expect to see that will reflect that achievement, and put it on a schedule that fits your needs and availability.
If you’re a visual boss like me and you want to explore Airtable as a system to fit your needs, I’ve just completed by annual update of my signature program on Airtable called AIRTABLE LIKE A BOSS and you have freshly pressed lessons on using Timeline Views and Gantt Charts, as well as the Interface feature which I’ll brag about next week because I’ve had a couple of 1:1 conversations that were of the “ohmigosh, this changes EVERYTHING” persuasion.
Check out AIRTABLE LIKE A BOSS here.