SBA T.H.R.I.V.E. Coach Andre Whittington
Small Business Tips
POSTED: 2 August 2022
As a kid, my mother loved taking road trips and she rarely used a map to get to her destination. I was amazed and would often ask how she was able to travel without a map, and she would reply, “because I know where I am going”. I don’t know about you, but I use my phone’s GPS all the time to help me navigate unfamiliar places. Even if I am slightly familiar with the area, I will double check the GPS to confirm my assumptions. When traveling my goal is to either arrive on time or with minutes to spare. While my mom didn’t use a map, she was a seasoned traveler and trusted her experience to guide her. Our methods were different, but we had two things in common, we knew where we were going and how we would get there.
In business, knowing where you are going, and how to get there is critical. Building a winning business strategy is all about having a Strategic GPS System in place. A Strategic GPS System is used to successfully guide your company towards a major goal. It is comprised of three primary components: your big goal, an execution plan, and accountability measures. Separately, these components are meaningless but when applied sequentially, they are game changers.
Let’s start with the first component, your big goal, which will allow you to begin with the end in mind. When developing the big goal for your business, it is important to write it down as, “Our Big Goal” this creates organizational ownership. While it may seem simple, owning this process is critical. The first step in creating your big goal is taking time to assess your business and thinking about where you want to be in five years. Your big goal should be a one sentence statement that is actionable, clear, and concise. This statement should have a strong focus on the major priority that you want to accomplish within the next five years. It can be to grow revenue, penetrate new markets, grow your workforce, or whatever you feel your business must accomplish. An example of this would be, Company A’s big goal is to, “Increase annual revenue by $1.5M by expanding into new markets and establishing partnerships with Technology companies”. Once you have created your big goal statement. The next thing is to look at the three pillars of business: People, Process, Technology. When looking at these pillars ask yourself, what will we need to change, add, or eliminate to ensure we can achieve this goal in five years. Once you have your answers it is time to put in the work.
As a CEO and a previous corporate leader, I know how important it is to execute a plan. In corporate America, we called it “Execution Excellence”, and it was how we separated good leaders from great ones. Great leaders knew how to execute a plan and bring life to business strategies in a way that was unmatched. A system that we used to assist in leveling the playing field was OKR (objective and key results). OKR is a goal-setting framework used to breakdown your goals over time so that you can easily track outcomes. The objective is a qualitative statement and tells you what you want to improve. The key results are quantitative and define how you will know if you have achieved the objective. So how do we use this system in our strategic planning? You would apply it to the focus areas required to help you achieve your big goal. The first step is to establish your objectives across the three pillars of business (people, process, and technology). Your goal may not require a focus on all three, but a best practice is to fully assess all areas before eliminating them. Answering questions such as the ones asked previously (what we will need to change, add, or eliminate) will help guide you. Once you identify this you will need to break it down over a five-year period. Let’s look at Company A’s big goal. They want to increase revenue and penetrate new markets. To achieve their revenue goal, they know that an annual revenue increase must be between 2-3% each year. They also know that to grow revenue they will need to penetrate new markets, so the executive team creates an OKR for year one.
Objective: We will secure our first government contract for FY 2023-2024.
Once you have your OKRs established for your first year it is now time to start the process of assigning goals to the respective team members who will help you achieve them. The OKR system is best used as a monthly, quarterly, and yearly progression model assisting you and your team in staying focused on your goals. Successfully securing a government contract can potentially increase revenue while allowing Company A to expand into a new market. Achieving this goal will creates positive momentum towards their big goal.
Using the OKR process builds organizational discipline around goal setting and strategic execution. For this system to work you must integrate it into your day-to-day operations. This can be accomplished by creating initiatives to help drive your team towards the objective. In the example provided, the objective was to secure a government contract during FY 2023-24. As a CEO, you would create an initiative that may consist of team members who are responsible for establishing an internal government services department. If you are a mighty team of one this may consist of working with a representative from your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Once this objective is connected to an initiative it should fold into your weekly team meetings. This will ensure that everyone is doing their part to move the company closer to achieving the objective. The OKR system provides many benefits including focus, alignment, commitment, tracking, and the stretching of your business/teams. As you use it you will continue to review and update your objective until your big goal is realized.
In business nothing is absolute and there are no shortcuts. The key to building a winning business strategy starts with setting a big goal, putting OKRs in place, integrating them into your day-to-day operations, and managing them until you achieve your big goal. Over the years I have used this system to scale businesses, create strategic plans, and grow my business. As you prepare to create the Strategic GPS System for your company, I encourage you to take some time to assess where you are and where you truly desire to be in the next five years. I am confident that if you commit to taking this time, you will establish a winning business strategy that will position your business for long-term success.
Andre Whittington is the CEO & Founder of Opemia Consulting, LLC, located in downtown Phoenix, AZ. He is also a Contributing Author for Entrepreneur Media where he writes articles to inspire and motivate entrepreneurs. As a CEO of Opemia Consulting, LLC, Andre was able to triple annual year over year revenue and expand Opemia Consulting’s client portfolio internationally for the first time in 2021. Andre is a strategically sound leader with over 13 years of leadership & organizational development experience.