Mark Moses is one of the world's foremost coaches of entrepreneurs. After starting his first business at age 19, he went on to build and sell two firms during his entrepreneurial career and now focuses on helping entrepreneurs increase profitability and accelerate growth. In his Paper Napkin, Mark shares: "If you can't define it, you can't measure it. If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."
Whether your goal is business, personal, or other, it must be explicitly defined before you're able to truly achieve it. Ask yourself the following questions: Where do you want to be three years from now? What will it take to guarantee that happens (and how will you measure it)? What stands in the way of making that happen?
Now ask those same questions for the next year; for the next quarter. Are the goals related and are they equally measureable? This state of constant definition and perpetual measuring is the most concrete method to managing your objectives. Leave the mentality of "concept" behind and instead embrace detailed, specific objectives.
Most entrepreneurs understand where they want to be, but struggle to identify the processes, tactics, and activities that will guarantee the end goal. Common examples of concepts without specifics are: hire better sales people, improve culture, improve efficiency, deliver better service. How can you focus on something important if it is not specific enough to create tasks?
Conversely, if the goal is to grow revenue, define that growth: "from X to Y in Z timeframe". Define the initial steps it will require to achieve that goal: hire X amount of salespeople". Clearly outline the measurements along the way: X number of calls/visits per salesperson, etc". Creating such a specific and measureable plan will bring your daily, weekly, and quarterly activities into sharper relief.
A common overlooked factor of this process is that the measurements must be leading, rather than lagging. Because entrepreneurs tend to focus wholly on the "what" and frequently ignore the "how", it is more important than ever to have a system of leading indicators to hold your team - and yourself - accountable. Businesses that have embraced this philosophy average a CAGR of 50% growth in revenue per year. At the very least, you will be empowered to dramatically enhance your ability to achieve much higher or more meaningful growth rates.
Accountability is another critical element of this process. Your ability to install these improvements in process, systems, management and leadership increases, as does the engagement of your key players. Hold an annual planning session and obtain that consensus/buy-in from your team on not only your objectives, but the measurements you will use to track progress. Follow through with accountability assignments and continue with quarterly planning and weekly check-ins, thus removing the possibility of becoming distracted by micro-level issues or "emergencies".
Weekly progress reports are also important to allow for mid-course corrections. The corrections are "bite-size" when identified weekly, as opposed to massive when delayed until a quarterly or annual session. You have thus empowered your key players (and the organization) to truly focus on achieving long-term goals.