TFYW#066: Drop The SMART Goals. Here The Best Alternative.

Dec 15, 2023

This week we going to ditch the SMART goals.

Impossible Goals

Every year about this time, there are endless social posts and newsletters about setting SMART goals.

Here’s something a bit different from Dr. Ben Hardy, an organizational psychologist.

“Most people are going for what I would call linear goals.

Linear meaning like it’s a continuation from the present into the future.

They’re very practical goals. Say I want to increase my income by 10% this year or increase my revenue by 20%.

Research is really clear on this. If you’re not going for something that you believe to be impossible, then what that means is that you’re operating from the assumptions of your past, which is blocking you from trying and finding new and innovative pathways that would help you get there.

This actually contradicts a lot of the stuff on the idea of SMART goals, which is that they should be realistic.”

Impossible goals force us to think about how to get the results we truly want.

I’ve found that most of my past SMART goals were half-assed attempts, thinking I could achieve new things without changing the status quo.

I was trying to get new outputs without truly adjusting the inputs.

That’s where the idea of impossible goals gets my attention.

Impossible goals highlight how what you’re doing now, probably isn’t going to be sufficient for what you want later.

Thinking back, when I wanted to make my first big jump to $300K in revenue, my delivery structure, billable hours ratio and client pipeline were completely inadequate.

I can tell you right now – your current efforts, actions, and skills need adjustment to hit your next stage of growth.

I challenge you to make impossible goals in three areas of your firm:

  1. Team
  2. Tech
  3. Trajectory

Set goals to do things you have never done before, to see outputs that you’ve never had before.

Team

The goals of your team should be to replace you in the various parts of your firm.

Focus on getting out of the low-leverage, low-value work first.

Administration time

If you’re doing the invoicing, eng letter prep, firm bookkeeping or document management, stop. Hire a virtual assistant for as little as 10 hours per week.

If you’ve never considered a VA and don’t know where to start, check out the webinar I did in September with Outsource School.

You can find a VA in 2 weeks and start enjoying the benefits within a month.

Service Delivery

Growing your firm requires dedicated time for non-billable, high-value work. You don’t grow by stacking your billable hours.

If you’ve never considered hiring overseas talent, check out the webinar I did with Vintti about hiring South American talent. Find top-tier talent working in the same time zone that currently hold accounting positions with the largest multinational companies in the US.

You can find a good service delivery team member in less than 2 months and start enjoying the benefits in 3 – 4 months.

Firm Management

If you’ve never considered hiring a COO, that might be just the thing to consider. COOs handle the primary team and client management. They cost a pretty penny, but pull you out of the inevitable everyday fires.

You can find a good COO in 6 months and start seeing the impact within 10 months.

Tech

The three pieces of tech that slow-growing firms lack are Practice Management, CRM and Proposals.

Practice Management

Building and managing a team effectively requires a good way to delegate and monitor work.

If you’ve never considered paying $250/yr per employee for an app to do something you can handle on a few spreadsheets and a time tracker, I can promise you’re leaving money on the table.

CRM

If ‘waiting on referrals’ is not delivering quality clients, a CRM is a must. It is integral for sales funnels and selling services beyond basic compliance engagements.

If you’ve never considered building a CRM, this is your invitation. It helps you map the client journey and see where your sales funnel leaks.

Proposals

If you are not taking payments or payment information upfront, check out Ignition or GoProposal.

If you’ve never considered eliminating AR in your firm, now might be the time. This may force you to standardize your services. But don’t worry you won’t be losing some clients; you’ll be gaining efficiency and service delivery excellence.

Trajectory

I see trajectory as how a firm optimizes its services to deliver as much value as possible. In most cases, delivering more value means offering higher-margin services to fewer clients.

 

If you don’t remember anything else from this week’s newsletter, remember this:

 

Firms with better trajectories don’t simply get more clients; they get more per client.

 

A 30% increase in margin results in significantly different trajectories.

Niches

Niches used to be reserved for large firms with broad geographical networks. Now, the smallest firms can charge expert prices when they focus and commit to a niche.

If you’ve never felt like a niche would be a path to increasing value, now is the time to reflect on leveraging expertise to increase your revenue and profit per client.

Value Pricing

Linking your price to the value you deliver is the quickest way to remove the revenue ceiling your time creates.

If you’ve never felt you could justify a higher price based on what you do, flip the script and base your price on what the client receives. Efficient service delivery should increase your prices because your client receives their outcome faster.

Practice demonstrating the value you deliver instead of how much time it took you.

Advisory

You don’t have to offer ‘CFO services’ to provide high-quality advisory services in your firm. Unearth the key inputs to what drives your client’s growth. Put metrics around those key inputs and create a system to track and report them to your client.

Marry the finances and operations for your client.

If you’ve never felt like you could offer advisory services, spend time with your best clients and discuss where they want to go in the next 2 to 5 years. Determine what info they’ll need each month or quarter. Build a plan to overlap what you do with what they want.

Summary

If you just want the summary of the above, focus on impossible goals in three areas of growth:

Team

  • Cut your admin time by 75% before April 30; OR
  • Get out of 80% of service delivery by Aug 30; OR
  • Don’t deal directly with clients or team issues by Dec 31

Tech

  • Integrate an practice management tool by Aug; OR
  • Connect a CRM to two sales funnels and a bi-weekly newsletter by June; OR
  •  Put all clients on prepayment plans by Feb 28.

Trajectory

  •  Accept only clients in the construction industry doing over $2M in sales by June 30; OR
  •  Increase your base prices by 30%, advising on client’s revenue growth month/ month by Sept 30; OR
  •  Learn the key tech and systems for Multi-clinic dental corporations and how to calculate and manage patient growth and churn by Dec 31.

Any combination of two of these goals could profoundly impact your firm.

I’ll let you take it from here.

Build The Firm You Want.

Mark

P.S. Email Mark@FirmNexus.com with something that you want me to talk about. I’ll add it to the list. 

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