Why is it that setting goals is like dealing with a sink full of dirty dishes?
At first you dread the task and put it off for as long as possible: and if you’re like me, you procrastinate and find every excuse not to tackle them.
But once you muster up the strength to finally knock out the mess, you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner, since it wasn’t as much of a pain as you originally thought it would be.
Okay, so I’m sure there are plenty of other metaphors that could go here(cue the pulling teeth one), but I’m almost certain that setting goals conjures up a similar response for many people.
We know we need to create goals, yet we still procrastinate until we’re forced to.
Why is it so hard to set goals? Probably because they set the tone for the rest of our work— and there’s a lot riding on them. They also add pressure to our company and individual team members.
But goals are important to have; they give you focus and guidance.
Decision making becomes easier since all you have to do is ask yourself: “Does this align with my goals?” If the answer is ‘no’, you know not to waste your time doing that activity.
So if you’re struggling to set goals for your agency, or you’re wondering if the goals you already set are realistic, today’s article will help.
I’ll show you how to set goals for your web design agency and if your team already has goals set (which is awesome!), I’ll show you how to determine if your current goals are realistic.
What does the future look like?
Before you jump into the nitty gritty of goal setting, it’s time to have some fun. In fact, it’s highly encouraged.
Imagine what your agency’s future looks like five years from now.
Do you envision your team working in the hip part of town in a modern and sleek office that fosters creativity? Or will you create a virtual team that spans the globe and collaborates remotely?
Speaking of your team, how many employees do you see working with you in five years?
What about your revenue? Are you a five, six, or seven figure agency by then?
Now is the time to set logic aside and write down anything that comes to mind. We’ll get a little more realistic later when we fine-tune things.
Set a timer for 15 minutes to complete this step and let the dreaming take control.
Identify Underlying Themes for Your Goals
Using what you wrote down during your brainstorming session, see if you can identify a few underlying themes relating to how you envision your agency in five years.
For example, is your focus on expanding the team or increasing your revenue?
Maybe it’s a combination of both and then some.
Common themes for web design agency goals are:
- Revenue or income goals
- Growth goals
- Expertise/Team Improvement goals
Now, some of these categories may overlap - and that’s okay. You’re going to need a few smaller goals instead of one gigantic one, so it’s perfectly fine if you notice a few different themes.
Just jot them down and we’ll use them to give us more direction later on.
By choosing these underlying themes first, it will be easier to break down your goals into manageable steps.
Work Backwards Using SMART Goals
Using your five-year vision, you should be able to create SMART goals for each of the themes you’ve identified.
If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, it’s essentially an acronym for creating goals that are specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-bound.
- Specific: your focus is on one particular area of improvement
- Measureable: somehow you can track your progress
- Assignable: determine who will carry out this goal
- Realistic: answers: Can this realistically be accomplished?
- Time-bound: when this goal should be completed by
There has been some recent criticism regarding this original acronym, so to combat those valid points, we’ll be tweaking this formula a bit.
The specific, measureable, and time-bound components will all stay the same. You need goals that are specific enough for you to understand what should be done. You also need to be able to track your progress. Plus, it’s important to give yourself an end date so there’s a sense of urgency to reach these goals.
In his book How to Set Big Goals & Achieve Them, Richard D. Rawlings addresses the fact that the assignable and realistic aspects could use some updating. Rawlings believes that the ‘A’ should stand for achievable instead of assignable and the ‘R’ should be relevant over realistic.
He explains that our five-year vision can be grandiose, but our SMART goals should be humanly possible to achieve.
The relevancy aspect doesn’t just mean ‘Are the goals pertinent to me?’, rather, they should answer: ‘Are they meaningful to me?’ If your goals are not meaningful, you’re not going to be motivated enough to reach them.
Now that you know what the SMART acronym stands for, you can go ahead and break down your five-year goals based on this formula.
Remember, if you have a few different goals, you’ll need to repeat this step for each one.
Let’s use an example.
Suppose your agency’s five-year goal is to earn $1,000,000 in revenue.
To turn this into a SMART goal, this would look like: Our goal is to hit $1,000,000 in revenue by 2020.
You can see that I’ve only added to the original goal and haven’t changed it too much.
This example shows specific ($1,000,000 in revenue), measurable (again $1,000,000), and time-bound (by 2020) traits. But is it attainable or relevant?
That depends on the agency writing this goal down.
If you’re only making $5,000/month in revenue right now, then $1,000,000 in five years may be unattainable. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it does mean there’s a daunting amount of work that needs to be done for it to happen.
For an agency of this size, it may be more attainable to reach something like $250,000 in revenue by year five.
And what about relevancy? Will making $1,000,000 in revenue be meaningful to you (and your team)?
That depends too.
If the $1,000,000 mark is a measure that says your clients are happy with your consistent results (which they show you by paying you on time every month), then this measure may be worth pursuing.
However, if the $1,000,000 is only set for bragging rights, you’re not setting yourself up for success.
If your goals don’t have principles behind them, you’re less likely to stay motivated when times get tough.
Go through your goals to see if you can identify the principles, or your ‘why’ for choosing these goals. These principles will help you form a connection and give you the dedication to see them through.
How to Keep Your Goals Realistic
Richard Rawlings also has another set of tools in How to Set Big Goals and Achieve Them. These gauge whether your goals are actually achievable.
You’ll need to ask yourself:
- Am I willing to pay the price for this goal?
- What will I need to sacrifice to achieve this goal?
- Am I willing to persist no matter what happens?
- Is this goal humanly possible?
The answers to these questions will give you an idea of how realistic your goals are.
Are you truly willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your goals?
If your goal requires you to work 80+ hours a week and miss out on important time with your family, it may not be a realistic one.
The last and final point is that these goals should not be set in stone. They should be dynamic and change as you grow. If you start to realize that your goal is too easy, adjust it accordingly. And if you realize that your goal is not feasible, don’t wait to change it.
The more you look at and update your goals, the better. Remember not to go too easy on yourself and change your goals just because achieving them will take hard work. Half of the fun is in the journey.
In the end, your goals should serve as the focus of your agency and should be used to guide any tough decisions that come your way.