Work Backwards From the Goal

Jacq and Chris I’m an hour or two away from speaking to the board of directors of a major association whose charter is to help small businesses thrive. They want me to speak a bit, but the majority of the value of today will come from them picking my brain about specifics for their organization. I did the same thing differently via coaching yesterday with another company.

In both cases, the mindset required is to work backwards from the goal.

Start at the End

Watching Jacq prepare for her major fitness competitions is a great example of what I mean. Her events are all in April, and so she knows at the moment that she’s eight weeks out from her first of a few shows. She’s been working backwards from when her show days are for the last few months. Everything is laid out with “x weeks out” as the preparation and mindset.

Businesses work that way, when they’re smart. For instance, you work backwards from your revenue goals. Need to make a million in revenue this year? Then you’ve got to make $84,000 a month. What are you doing to hit that number? What are you pricing out your products and services to be to hit that goal? How are you finding ways to deliver that much value to your community at large?

Goals Aren’t Linear

The most important part of the goal, ultimately, is the outcome. Yes, the process and method become important, but only if they’re the winning process. Put another way, if you’re very diligent about making five sales calls a day because that’s the process, and you don’t hit the number, then who cares?

Goals aren’t linear. They’re a destination. Sometimes, you have to take another route. If one road is closed, you don’t just go home. You try some other way.

Build Your Plans Around Outcomes and Goals

Rob Hatch and I have plans for Owner Media Group, my new company (which replaces HBW). We started with the outcomes we wanted to see for 2014. Not anything beyond that, except insofar as knowing that the story we’re telling has a longer arc than just one year. But it’s built around the goals. As recently as yesterday, I was saying to Rob, “Well, I can’t really do ‘A’ to make us the revenue, because it’s going to be too time intensive for not enough value to our community, so I’ll have to do ‘B’ instead.”

That’s what you want for your planning.

Speaking of Goal-Minded Work

I started this by talking about Jacq and her fitness prep and the like. She’s giving a free one hour online event to help educate busy women about fitness and nutrition. The program has tons and tons of great information that you can take away and use for your own goals and beyond. Yes, she’s going to make an offering at the end (you know I’d call it a “selly sell!”), but the information you get for free will be every bit as valuable as you’d want it to be. Promise.

I’m happy to have helped produce it with her.

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  • http://www.purplestripe.com/ LynetteRadio

    I call this ‘reverse engineering’ – working backwards. Thanks for bringing value and insight to the SMB crowd!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Well said, indeed. : )

  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    Definitely the right mindset to have, but hard to accomplish and not get off path.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      No question. But once you’re off the path, get back on it. : )

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  • http://www.trustedadvisor.com/trustmatters Charles H. Green

    Very important insight.

    To put it another way, a key step in one of the models I use in trust – a model for trust-creating conversation – is the idea of envisioning. It means, take some time and envision in great and clear detail just what the future-state world you’re talking about is going to look like.

    The idea is that focusing on the desired end-state has a lovely way of bringing together actions to get there.

    Another variation on the theme: One of my favorite in-meeting tools for getting things back on track is to say, “What problem are we trying to solve?” Start with the end, and look back.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Agreed. Vision is the key for that. : )

  • Rick Banas

    A number of years ago, I had the good fortunate of attending an intense American Management Association training program on marketing. The instructor had a remarkable background. He was an attorney, an international marketing consultant, and an engineer who worked for NASA. He talked about his experience working for the space program when the goal was to land a man on the moon. The approach to planning sessions was to start with the goal and work backward to what each person should be doing at 9 o’clock on Monday morning.

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  • http://www.phase2solutions.net/ Jason Verdelli

    Chris, awesome post! I love what you say about working backwards and considering everything that factors in like price point in a business case. I think it’s also very important to envision how you will feel when you have reached that goal. You don’t want to reach a goal that ends up making you miserable. For example, setting the goal to make a million dollars in a year for your business and then realizing that the kind of business you built is driving you crazy and makes it harder, mentally, to stick to personal goals. I think as long as you envision how you will feel by achieving the goal, the more likely you are to stick with it.

  • http://milostopic.com Milos

    Yes, reverse engineering indeed as LynetteRadio has said it. It’s all about creating experiences that matter, start with the goal and then find the tools that would help you address it – don’t make tools you are familiar with fit into the goal you are trying to reach.

  • PERK

    The power of Clarity.

  • kaushik dutta

    Well said…