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business goals

Goal-setting for 2019: The story behind last year’s data

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January is a month of good intentions, when it comes to making resolutions and setting business goals.

Increasing top-line revenue by 30 percent or deciding to eliminate a service offering isn’t the end of your goal-setting. It’s an opportunity to take a deep dive into the story behind your business data. Here’s how three business owners deconstructed their data and set long-term, high-impact goals.

“Our revenue goal for 2019 is a 30 percent increase over last year.”

Before setting your annual revenue goal, ask yourself and your team three questions:

  • What was our revenue by month in 2018?
  • Which three months were our top revenue months for 2018?
  • What happened during those months – what customers made the largest purchases, and what characteristics do those customers have in common?

I asked a client these questions, and we uncovered a prospective customer profile and purchasing patterns that the company can use to duplicate and exceed its best revenue months from 2018.

We’re not going to prospect for this service in 2019.”

The partners in a professional services firm wanted to discontinue a service offering, provided through a partner, because it was “time-consuming” and “tedious.” While setting the firm’s revenue goals, we explored:

  • The percentage of annual revenue was generated by the service.
  • Which clients were easiest to provide with this service, and which clients generated the greatest revenue for the firm.
  • How the firm interacted with its partner in providing clients with this service, and how much time the firm spent on these interactions.

Analyzing the data changed the goal. Twenty percent of the firm’s revenue was generated by the service. By making two adjustments to their process, the firm could save time and effort.

“Let’s skip (a business development activity) this year. We didn’t get that much out of it.” 

Last year, a business leader and her team developed a unique idea for prospect engagement that they implemented twice in 2018.  The team questioned the activity’s value. We identified four evaluation criteria and deconstructed the data:

  • Engagement // Thirty percent of targeted customers had engaged, and 15 prospects were generated from these customers.
  • Scalability //The team had defined and refined the process, so that the activity could be easily repeated.
  • Cost // Through contributions from a manufacturer, the annual cost to the company was less than $200.
  • New Revenue // As a direct result of the activity, the company gained new customer sales of $500,000.

The team revised its goal to increase implementation in 2019, and measure success by the criteria we identified.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing a main thing,” says leadership expert Stephen Covey. The main thing for your business goals is sometimes hiding in plain sight, in the story behind your data.