CEOs who work hard and consistently hit their goals have a good problem.
On the one hand … they’re hitting their goals! That wouldn’t be happening if they weren’t making effective annual plans, focusing on top-level CEO tasks, and delegating the rest to a team of high performers.
But on the other hand, success breeds complacency. When one of the CEOs I work with keeps hitting the same numbers, I like to push back:
What would it take for you to double your goals?
The most common response I get is, “I’m going to work twice as hard.”
And that’s the wrong answer.
If you’re running a successful company, you’re ALREADY working really hard! Heck, even CEOs running bad companies are usually hard workers. Stretching your 50+ hour work week above 60 probably won’t move the needle much for your business. But it could have some serious consequences for your work-life balance, wellness, and sanity.
So how do the best businesses set realistic new targets without setting unrealistic work expectations?
Measure the right activity.
In my experience, the difference between good companies and great companies is rarely effort. The key differentiator is the ability to identify the number one specific and measurable activity you can keep score on that will guarantee you hit your goals.
And that’s why CEOs fall back on bad answers like “I’m going to work harder” or “I’m going to sell more” when it’s time to aim higher. They don’t know what that key activity is.
For example: “I’m going to sell more” sounds like an activity. But more sales is really an outcome, not an activity.
Specific, measurable activities answer the question, “How?” How are you going to sell more? How are you going to grow your customer base? How are you going to win market share from your top competitor?
Your How needs to meet the following criteria:
- Completing the task will help you achieve your new goal.
- Completing the task is directly within your control.
Better planning in action.
Here are some examples of effective activities that CEOs I’ve worked with identified to double their goals. Each task is specific. Each task is measurable. Each task is something the CEO had the power to implement and adjust. And each task built up month after month to BIG results.
- Business: Consulting Company
- BIGGER Goal: Double gross margin from 20% to 40%.
- Specific Activity: Increase the utilization of consultants.
- How They Measured: Adjusted the number of full-time employees. All AAA talent was retained. Anyone who wasn’t a top performer was eliminated, and effective use of contractors allowed consultant utilization to hit 85%, doubling gross margins.
- Business: SaaS Company
- BIGGER Goal: Double monthly recurring revenue (MRR) to $50,000.
- Specific Activity: Demos.
- How They Measured: The company’s data team used the previous year’s MRR stats and demonstration schedule to determine a conversion rate. This estimation led to the conclusion that staging 200 demos would broaden the customer base enough to hit the larger MRR goal.
- Business: Wealth Management Company
- BIGGER Goal: Double net new assets under management to $50 million for the year.
- Specific Activity: Deliver twelve retirement planning educational seminars.
- How They Measured: The previous year had shown that seminars led to X prospect meetings. Y% of those prospects turned into clients who generated new revenue for the firm. Based on the average number of attendees per seminar, the CEO determined that holding twelve seminars would attract enough prospects to hit or exceed the conversion rate and create at least twice as much new assets.
- Business: Transportation Company
- BIGGER Goal: Reduce repair and maintenance costs by 50%.
- Specific Activity: Sell old trucks and replace with fuel-efficient ones.
- How They Measured: By comparing gas mileage and estimated annual repair costs of a fleet of new trucks to their current fleet, the company determined that investing in new trucks would soon pay for itself and bring down annual overhead. This is an outstanding reminder that generating more revenue isn’t just a matter of selling more. Any operational inefficiency you can identify and improve upon is going to put you in the black too.
Remember: if you can’t define your activity like these companies did, you can’t measure it. And if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. And if you can’t manage it, you’re never going to make it BIG.
Light up your scoreboard.
So how do you ensure that your team follows through on these activities? Foster a culture of accountability. That means a big scoreboard that tracks the company’s progress. That means a meeting rhythm that reinforces the importance of your targets, rewards employees who are throwing bullseyes, and course-corrects as necessary.
And most importantly, that means a CEO who’s inspiring everyone around him to achieve more, trusting his C-Suite to execute, and leaning on trusted advisors or a coach to keep him on-task as well.
The only thing better for your business than getting BIG is getting BIGGER year after year. That’s only going to happen if you have the courage to keep setting BIGGER goals and the discipline to plan, measure, and manage your way towards them.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. His firm coaches over 185 of the world’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and CEO’s on how to dramatically grow their revenues and profits, implement the most effective strategies, become better leaders, grow their people, build accountability systems, and elevate their own performance. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 350 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 25 countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from $10 million to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for three years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 66.4% during their time as a client, more than five times the national average. For more information, please visit: https://www.ceocoachinginternational.com