Ambition is the fuel that drives businesses forward – without it, companies stagnate and fail to reach their potential. Goals give a company actionable steps to take to drive corporate growth and success. However, setting goals that are too ambitious can be just as damaging as having no goals at all. Failing to meet these goals can not only affect employee and stakeholder morale, but can negatively impact a company’s performance. This prompts an important question: how does a company strike the perfect balance between ambitious yet realistic goals?
We spoke with Deepak “Dee” Agarwal, a successful entrepreneur and business leader, to gain insights on this topic. His experience spans a variety of industries, from online retail, notably with NoMorerack.com, to business process outsourcing, scaling his BPO business ContactCenter.com to 1,500 employees by the time it was sold.
Re-Define What Success Looks Like
As a business leader or owner, it is essential to clearly define what success looks like for your company before setting growth goals. It’s important to remember that companies are unique, and no two paths to success look exactly the same. Across competitors, supplementary goods and services, and the industry, every organization faces different challenges and constraints.
“Measuring yourself against industry benchmarks is useful, up until a point. Pave your own path with goals and decisions based on data you collect and analyze from your own business. You’ll never beat your competitors by following the same path,” says Deepak “Dee” Agarwal.
In addition to industry benchmarking, consider financial goals, what does revenue generation look like in a sustainable model? Are you setting expectations in a way that margin growth will continuously exceed shareholder expectations, or just cut it? What are your costs and profit margins?
“Reasonable success and growth will also look different at every stage of your business. It’s important to re-evaluate your roadmap on a consistent basis and make sure that you keep a line of clear communication with your company’s stakeholders, especially employees and shareholders. Everyone knows that success isn’t a straight line. With honest communication and goals based on your team’s legitimate bandwidth, you make it far easier to exceed expectations, which never looks bad,” says Deepak “Dee” Agarwal.
Consider the time and talent
To create meaningful milestones against growth goals, leaders must first build a timeline and then set clear long-term goals working backward from the end goal. It can be helpful to start by reviewing where the business stands in terms of talent and the capabilities of current employees. This understanding is key in realistically determining how soon the next steps can be achieved in a way that won’t overextend people and resources. If talent capabilities and desired timing are not aligned, it may be necessary to plan for the expansion of the workforce to best achieve growth objectives.
“Growing a company takes both time and talent. Business leaders need to consider – what timeline is realistic? Is the right team in place to achieve these growth goals in this timespan? If not, the company must consider investing resources into growing the team,” adds Deepak “Dee” Agarwal.
It is almost impossible to achieve growth metrics if the customer is not properly prioritized. As part of goal setting, leaders should also analyze the customer experience being offered, and assess if it can be enhanced. This involves pinpointing the touchpoints that are affecting the customer journey and satisfaction levels. “When developing a strategic plan to advance the growth of a business, it’s crucial not to lose sight of the customer. There may be pivots and shifts that can drive greater customer satisfaction, retention, and acquisition, which ultimately supports growth goals,” states Deepak “Dee” Agarwal.
In fact, research has shown that the customer experience has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. According to McKinsey, taking a customer-centric approach to business design can help achieve revenue gains of 5%-10% and reduce costs by 15%- 25% in two or three years, all as a result of increased customer loyalty.
While striking a balance between lofty goals that ensure a company won’t stagnate, and being realistic around the capabilities of your team and resources, honesty, communication, and reevaluation are paramount. By basing growth goals on the needs of customers and the abilities of your team, companies can be best positioned to achieve success.
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