Since we just broke through a brand new year I’m going to share with you the system I use to set up business goals. This is a method I’ve used for more than five years now, and it has continuously helped me achieve each one of my goals. The nice thing about this system is that it’s extremely simple.
One of my personal goals for 2019 is to become more transparent with what I’m working on — and this article is the start of doing just that! Keep in mind that this is all merely my personal experience on the topic and if you have something you’d like to add or if you’d like to discuss your own experiences, feel free to share.
Step 1: Find the major constraint
There is a theory called the Theory of Constraints (TOC), invented by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and described in his book “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement.” When I first read this book it changed my approach to goals. The main idea is that there is a path to continuous improvement by finding and expanding the constraints (the most important limiting factor for achieving any goal) over and over. This is the theory that you will need to learn about if you want to move to the next level.
With my three co-founders, we launched a new product at the end of 2018 and the current goal is to find the right market fit along with the way towards exponential growth. To achieve these goals we need to have the resources to change products fast (we have a team for that) and the way we do marketing (viral marketing has been of great help to us). So marketing is our major limiting factor, our constraint.
The roles in our team are divided in the following way:
- I’m the CEO; my skills are in product development and marketing
- Vladimir manages the UX/UI of all our products
- Alex is the financial expert who works on raising capital
- Denis is the strategist who advises us on where to go next
Step 2: Come up with a unique, motivational idea
The primary goal here is to find something that will motivate me for the long term. In other words, to find the “core mission.” It doesn’t matter how big the goal is. It could be “Send people to Mars” instead of “Create a spaceship company,“ or it could be something as simple as “Become more attractive” instead of “Lose 20 pounds.”
On the previous step I stated that our current constraint is to find the way to effectively market, so let’s try to find the core mission of that goal.
Here’s how I think about this:
How can we find the best, most cost-effective way to market our product? One way is to create something valuable that users will share.
In my case, the target audience of our product is the entrepreneurs who build innovational products in different fields (AI, blockchain, robotics, quantum computing, cybersecurity). The Internet is full of high-quality content that is perfect suited for that audience, so we need to work extra hard to come up with valuable content.
One of our ideas that we came up with was a marketing tactic in the form of a challenge. I called it the #10kqachallenge — I’m going to ask questions to 10,000 experts and share their answers with my target audience on trusted publications (like Hacker Noon).
It’s a win-win strategy: it will help experts spread their expertise and let entrepreneurs receive the valuable answers. So let’s put this idea to the test.
Here we created a simple landing page for our challenge: https://formula.geekforge.io/
Step 3: Set up the schedule for testing
My experience shows that the best way to do something great is to modify and revise the initial idea over and over again. In 8 out of 10 cases the initial idea never works, it needs to be modified after the first test. So to do that we need to have a schedule that will help the team work on revising and analyzing the end results.
Going back to our #10kqachallenge example, we first came up with the general idea of “growth tactics.” It looked like this:
We created the initial post with answers from the experts; here is the link: https://hackernoon.com/if-you-were-starting-from-scratch-in-2019-with-no-budget-what-would-you-do-to-gain-traffic-for-9196472e9d5e
The statistics for the post were great; it received 6.3K views in just nine days after publication on Medium:
It also received a ton of shares on Twitter:
So the first test showed that content about expert advice works out pretty well.
But the statistics for the conversion rates looked awful. We received:
- 50 users to the landing page
- 6 subscribers to the newsletter
So with this feedback in mind, we made a few changes to our initial concept. Here is what it looks like now: https://formula.geekforge.io/
We will continue work on this during the course of the year, and below I listed my schedule that will be used to make the improvements.
Here is what my daily schedule looks like:
- Wake up: Eat breakfast, look over my schedule for the day, and check the news to see if anything major has happened in the tech world.
- Mobile phone, messengers, and email notifications are completely turned off; working on major tasks requires high concentration (writing, planning, task setting, etc.).
- Emails, calls, meetings, management tasks. The second part of the day is for communication with the team, customers, and partners.
- Going for a run or lift weights.
- Creative tasks: reading, thinking. My best ideas come during this period. I try to write them down and systematize them so I can work on the execution in the morning.
Here’s how my weekly schedule looks:
- Setting up calls and meetings with the team. Need to be sure that everyone understands what we are working on and set weekly goals.
Tuesday — Thursday:
- Working on current goals with the team. Try not to have external meetings during those days in order to concentrate on major tasks.
- Team meeting to analyze the whole week and current goals. Plan the next week.
We have a 2-week sprint when we come up with the idea and test new hypotheses. It should be in parallel with longer tasks (like product development, which can continue for 1–2 months).
The advantage of this 3-step system is that it’s very simple. You just need to:
1. Find your current constraint.
2. Come up with an idea of how to surpass the constraint (you need to find the mission goal for that).
3. Set up the schedule for executing the plan and analyzing the results (keep in mind that first idea doesn’t need to be [and usually never is] great)
Applying these steps will definitely help you build the system that will help you achieve continuous improvements in any field. Feel free to share your own goal-setting methods in the comments below.
I also wanted to share some useful resources that have helped me find new ideas for improvement.
Exponentialview.co — Azeem Azhar’s perspective on technology, business, and society. You will find an unusual perspective to the tech world. It’s really helps expand the way you think about the world.
Startupdigest.com — A great digest with events, hand-selected articles, news, and info from the startup world. The best thing about this newsletter is that it show events for your area.
Designforhackers.com — A free online course about design pitfalls from David Kadavy, delivered via email, that teaches you how to avoid the most common mistakes that beginning designers make. (David also the author of “The Heart to Start: Win the Inner War & Let Your Art Shine”)
Remotive.io — The best tips and tricks for remote workers.
Builtbykrit.com — A weekly newsletter with startup lessons from design and development studios.
About the author:
Kirill Shilov — Founder of Geekforge.io and Howtotoken.com. Interviewing the top 10,000 worldwide experts who reveal the biggest issues on the way to technological singularity. Join my #10kqachallenge: GeekForge Formula.