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Goals? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Goals!

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#1 iamlost


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Posted 13 February 2013 - 04:54 PM

From past years of responses to my mentions of a revolving (evolving) business plan I know that few webdevs bother with such. While I hold firm to my view that a good business plan (incorporating marketing plan, revenue projections et al) is worthwhile what is crucial is that you identify and define some number of business goals.

No, I do not mean 'get more SE traffic'. Nor 'rank higher for...' Those are NOT business goals, they are sub-strategies or tactics that may be beneficial in helping (in conjunction with some number of others) fulfill the requirements one or more business goals.

Divide your goals by estimated time required. I divide mine into
* short: 6-months or less.
* medium: 6-months to 1-year.
* long: over a year.
Note: just about any non-spam non-scam SEO is at least a medium term goal.

Business goals tend to be variations on the following:
* income: your definition may vary but mine is net-profit less taxes.
The most basic methods of increasing income are (1) reduce costs and (2) increase revenue.

Example business goals might be:
* increase revenue.
---a main strategy might be to diversify ad revenue.
---a tactic might be to test a new ad network each month.

* decrease costs.
---a main strategy might be to improve customer service.
---a sub-strategy might be to utilise social media.
---a tactic might be to use Twitter.

* reputation: your definition may vary but mine is what others know/say about you and/or your business.
Basically: the feedback loop of what you offer, how you offer it; how visitors receive it, how/where they recommend and/or return; how third parties, i.e. niche bloggers, industry magazines, describe you and/or your business; etc.

Example business goals might be:
* improve reach.
---a main strategy might be to increase media mentions.
---a sub-strategy might be to network with industry journalists and freelance writers.
---a tactic might be to create media (aka press) kits and web page.

* increase return visits.
---a main strategy might be to improve your offerings.
---a sub-strategy might be to improve content to better grab and hold visitors.
---a tactic might be to replace stock images with custom copy targeted images.
---another tactic might be to expand copy on topics that get significant traffic but are light on detail.

There are other broad business goals but income and reputation are arguably the most critical.

Note that each goal is clear and concise; that each goal tends to allow many and varied strategies, each strategy tends to many and varied tactics; that each step: goal, strategy, tactic, is quantifiable, measurable, repeatable.

By all means ignore the business plan; but please do not neglect goals, their strategies and tactics; for if you do you will be as one who, walking in amongst six trees becomes lost.

#2 terriwells


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Posted 14 February 2013 - 03:05 PM

Excellent points! I've actually been trying to come up with a goal for a business that doesn't fit into one of those categories (income and reputation), and the only one I've come up with strikes me more as a personal goal in a business context. My example is an artist who sells their work, but it could just as easily be a doctor or other professional. Where would "increasing one's skill in one's field" fit? It could mean a pharmacy tech getting licensed (or going to school to become a pharmacist), an artist improving their handling of their chosen medium (or expanding into other media), an accountant studying particular areas of the tax law to begin specializing in a different part of the field (corporate vs. small business)...you get the idea. I'm thinking this would most comfortably fit under long-term goals for increasing income, if looked at from the perspective of business goals. What do you think?

#3 iamlost


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Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:22 PM


You are definitely broadening the scope beyond what most do when thinking about business goals, Terri, and it is truly a joy to behold.

And as I missed doing so earlier... Welcome to Cre8!

I mentioned in the original post that strategies and tactics often aid more than one goal. In your professional experience/accreditation examples you certainly impact both income and reputation, this is easily demonstrated by your pharmacist example: going to school and becoming a pharmacist increases earning potential (income); and raises one's standing in the field (reputation).

The arts being what they are in our society income is more a matter of popularity especially critiqued curated popularity than ability. Technically though the same rules could be justifiably applied. Generally the more skill with which an artist handles their medium and indeed the choice of medium (here your mention of learning a new, possibly more lucrative medium comes into play) can influence the influencers and early in investment buyers. While projecting income is more amorphous with artists/artisans reputation remains a solid metric.

#4 Black_Knight


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Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:05 PM

To an extent, one could argue that personal growth is, in most of the examples you gave, a way of improving the product/service, and thus can apply as both a goal to increase revenue and to increase reputation (with a slight bit more weight on the reputation).  The key question that can show how closely this ties to reputation is:  "Would you still regard the growth and development of skill successful if noone noticed it?"


So often, higher skill and further self-development is designed and desired to lead to higher reputation and so to increased demand and/or people willing to pay more to hire/commission your work.  Not invariably, of course, but certainly very, very often.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the only time this is not so is when someone prefers to have a particular, less profitable type of work, sacrificing money for deeper personal satisfaction.


As to the original post, I think there is one other goal that really must be addressed early on, and then stuck with:  Are you building what you are building as your own life-long career, the startings of an empire you may one day hand on as a legacy?  Or are you making a business that you want to be able to sell and move on to other projects when it gets dull to you?


That may seem a ludicrously heavy question for many things, but you can accept a lot of personalization and 'quirks' in work you will use yourself, that really are not acceptable in something others may have to work with and maintain.  Businesses especially need to be built with a strong eye to flexibility and scaleability if one day selling that business on is to be a viable option.  Building something where you will be the one running it is a lot simpler, but it really does narrow your options for selling it easily should you ever desire or need to.


This is basically the 'Exit Strategy' and it is an absolutely fundamental and core consideration for every investor.  You really ought to at least consider the same questions before investing your own resources, even if all you are investing is 'time and sweat'.  After all, you can always replace lost money, but lost time ... that's never coming back. :)

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