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Creating small micro goals to grow your business
Last year around this time, I got approached by a veteran nonprofit to help them stand up a podcast. They offered 5 figures worth of consulting dues paid up front to bring me on. Great right? All except for one thing - I’d never been paid for anything outside of my W2. That was a lot of money at stake with lots of chances for things to go wrong.
I took to Twitter and was reached out to by Akhil from MTLegal. He was on a call with me in under 20 minutes and in less than 24 hours had a consulting agreement drafted that outlined my protections, covered my guarantees, and recourse with issues. Work came guaranteed with unlimited revisions.
This took my stress level to zero and allowed me to move forward seamlessly. If you’re a small business and need general or bespoke contract work - look no further.
In the late 1800’s, Edward Thorndike proposed the ‘law of effect’ which is the basis
for operant conditioning, a learning process where behaviors are modified through changes in the environment. This was later used in the famous Skinner box experiment where an animal would receive food rewards when performing some action.
When it comes to growing your business, it’s easy to get defeated. You have a big vision you’re looking to achieve, but the daily grind isn’t adding up. The problem is you’re connecting daily actions with a multi year vision when you should rather be pursuing small micro rewards to keep you going.
Remember, you’re nothing more an animal.
Creating small experiments in the three sectors of your business will make it easy to see traction as well as give you the motivation to keep going.
There are three main parts of every business that you can develop these experiments to grow: marketing, sales, and product. Each segment should have its own goals, measurements, and experiments to improve.
Let’s say you’re looking to grow awareness for your brand or product by establishing a social media following and getting to 1000 followers. You start out posting once per week and consistently get 100 impressions.
The common trap is allowing yourself to ask “Why haven’t I achieved my goal” and may consider your efforts are futile.
Instead, you need to design micro goals that are commensurate with your actions.
To do this, look at your consistent 100 impressions per week. You want more impressions because that should lead to more followers.
So the next week you move to two posts per week and evaluate your new micro goal, not the 1000 follower goal! How does your change (1 post to 2 posts) impact your baseline of 100 impressions.
If you have 200 impressions, great! If the 200 impressions is consistent over time with 2 posts, not only have you reached more people, you’ve established a relationship between posting more and getting seen more. More posts = more impressions.
Establishing a baseline of where you are makes it easy to see how small changes can impact your results. In the skinner box example, you’ve found that pulling the lever (posting 1 additional time per week) leads to cheese (social media growth).
This small win also fuels your next steps to keep going.
Every business requires sales to continue operating and grow. Well established sales processes are extremely programmatic. The reason for this is because once you find what works, why would you change?
Most small businesses don’t have well established sales processes yet and need the skinner example to find them.
If you don’t have a sales process or script yet, the first step would be to create one and follow it to the t. Let’s say at present you get on 10 sales calls a week and close 3 of them with that script.
After establishing you can consistently close 3, you introduce a change to your presentation of the product. You create a new slide deck that shows off some of the fancy new features while keeping everything else the same. You immediately drop to 1 close per week.
Every Saturday, get one actionable tip to use your military experience to launch, grow, and scale your business.
If your baseline remains at 2, your new slide deck is bad and you need to revert immediately. By holding everything else constant, you isolate the problem to the item that changes.
In the skinner box example, you’ve found that pushing the button (new slides) leads to an electric shock (less sales). While painful, the hidden benefit of the shock is that you performed this in a short time period and found out quickly what doesn’t work.
Finding out lots of things that don’t work gets you closer to what does.
The same functions of both marketing and sales apply here. Places you can look to experiment on in your product include things like:
What are people suggesting you add?
Where do your customers get stuck?
When can customers access your product or service?
How often do they need to access it?
How smooth is your login sequence?
Does different font, size, or colors lead to different outcomes?
There are countless experiments you can be running in your business to grow. The important things to remember are:
Establish a baseline of performance
Create micro goals commensurate with actions.
Evaluate current performance only against past performance.
Iterate quickly to find those small wins that keep you going and not waste time on big initiatives that don’t.
Create a spreadsheet of the different goals you’re working to achieve and the different smaller experiments with respective outcomes.
Establish where you are now. Try new things. See if they work. If working, continue. If not working, try something new. Repeat until success.
Lastly, the meme of the week: