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Setting 10% Goals for Success

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Setting 10% Goals for Success

By smallbiztrends, Guest Blogger
Published: January 8, 2013

Funny, isn’t it, how the grass tends to look greener from the other side. It’s the same in business as well as in personal affairs.

If I look around, I can spot five companies in five minutes that “seem” to be doing better than mine. They appear to have accomplished more, in less time, and seem to be doing better than my company.

The fact is, that may or may not be true. Often things just LOOK greener.

But there is one good thing that tends to come out of “grass-is-greener” musing: it inspires me to set goals to improve my business.

One technique that we have used with great success is setting 10% goals. Think of it this way if you’re a football fan: instead of going for a touchdown pass on every play (and failing miserably because there’s no way you can make a touchdown every time), you instead go for a series of first downs. If you are successful at those smaller first down attempts, they add up to many yards over a series of plays. When you’ve advance the ball 70 yards down field, THEN you attempt the touchdown pass.

By attempting first downs, your chances of positioning the team to make a touchdown are much better. Compare that strategy to always attempting 70-yard passes that have a high chance of failing and stopping your advance cold in one, two or three plays.

Translated to business, the idea is to set a goal to improve something by 10% ONLY. Don’t attempt to improve something by 50% or 100% in one fell swoop—it probably will be too big to bite off and chew. By being overly ambitious, you just set up yourself, your team and your company for failure.

A 10% improvement is often doable. A small improvement such as 10% each month over the prior month can add up to more than 200% improvement in a year’s time. And because you are attempting something unintimidating and achievable, you and your team feel successful each month because you’re able to meet your goal and continue your progress.

Here are some ideas for 10% goals you can set in your business to improve sales or profitability:

  • Increase sales prospecting calls per rep by 10%
  • Improve throughput by 10% through adopting new software or a new app
  • Improve your quote-to-close sales cycle by 10%
  • Increase renewals of existing customers by 10%
  • Cut company travel expenses by 10%
  • Decrease utility expenses by 10%
  • Increase your newsletter subscribers by 10% by offering free downloads and other incentives
  • Cut server expenses 10% by moving to cloud computing
  • Increase leads captured off your website by 10%
  • Reduce the time for collecting outstanding receivables by 10%
  • Increase traffic to your website by increasing the number of social media shares/posts you make by 10%
  • Develop a new product line that grows 10% per month
  • If you have credit card balances outstanding, cut interest expense by paying down your balances by at least 10%

The list goes on — the above examples are just designed to get you started. Think especially about how to use technology to achieve goals. Technology is your friend in this kind of goal setting. Accounting software, for instance, helps you run reports to compare one period against another. Dashboards in online apps that measure your performance using the app can also help you measure progress. Even a good Excel spreadsheet can help save hours of time to measure progress, and demonstrate how much the team has achieved each period.

As with all goals, they must be specific as to time and other details, and measurable. So whether your goal is to make an improvement of 10% weekly, monthly or quarterly—the point is to set a specific time frame. Then find a way measure progress over that period.

Finally, don’t get hung up on the number 10. Ten percent is really a metaphor for a goal being doable. If 10% is overly ambitious in the context of your business or a particular area, then make it 5% or 3% or even 1%. The point is to set goals that are achievable in a short time frame. Keep building on those goals consistently each period until they add up to big gains at the end of the year.

About the Author:

Anita Campbell

Guest Blogger

My name is Anita Campbell. I run online communities and information websites reaching over 6 million small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, including Small Business Trends, a daily publication about small business issues, and BizSugar.com, a small business social media site.


The whole idea of going for first downs is a great way to begin setting goals, especially if you are just getting started so thanks for the tips!
This is an encouraging article. Measurable goals are key to growth and success in any company. One of our goals this year was to increase new traffic to our website by using more social media and posting relative content. By using Hootsuite and Google Analytics, we were able to notice an increase in traffic, thus achieving our goal, in just the first half of January. This benchmark will allow us to monitor our progress for the remainder of the year. Thanks again for the great article!
Thanks for sharing this information. I liked this post. happy to read it.
Interestingly the GB Cycling team believe their gold medal success is down to hundreds of small 1 to 10% improvements. Go for gold!
Great article, I network around Frederick, MD and look at other business owners and think... hmmm, they're doing better than I am. But I guess I'll never know for sure. Most of the time it feels like an uphill battle to get your business going.
Nice thinking and nice approach to get 10% more in every field of business. By giving something extra in your all services, you can also get more in returns which is really a good step.
That's a fabulous thought you just shared in here and one thing is for sure that you are very optimistic about your approach. Slow and Steady is the best way to grow. Steve Jobs rightly said in one of his addresses that for learning and getting to your goal you got to be hungry and remain foolish in your approach. "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish".


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