I was recently on a live video call with Noah Kagan and I was struck by his approach to business – and in particular, his laser-like focus on goals. I haven’t written specifically about goals or goal-setting yet, but Noah nailed it. In just a few sentences, he dished out some amazing advice that will radically change any business that applies it.
For those that don’t know, Noah Kagan was one of the early employees at Facebook. He then went on to work at Mint.com and was instrumental in the company’s successful launch. He is now the founder of Appsumo and Sumo (both wildly successful businesses) and now has a great podcast (Noah Kagan Presents). When he talks, people listen – and you should too!
So what is his advice for focusing on the important things in business?
Choose ONE Clear Goal
Noah advices that we should all;
“Set a goal – one clear goal for your business.”
It sounds simple, but many a time I’ve made the mistake of thinking that a more balanced approach would be better. So before you know it, I’ve ended up with leading indicators, lagging indicators, KPIs for each area of the business, customer related goals, financial goals, process-driven goals, and more.
But more importantly, I’ve ended up with no clear focus.
More goals aren’t better. This is a case where you need to force prioritisation and figure out what single measure is the most important.
When I finally came to my senses and defined the one most important metric for my business, things started changing.
So how do you decide on your one clear goal? Having a powerful vision for your business will help, but if you’re having trouble committing to just one goal, Noah says;
“If you’re not sure, just tell yourself that you’ll try it out for 3 months and then decide if it’s a good goal (or not). But commit to sticking with the goal for 3 months.”
Figure Out The Big Levers
Then, once you have a goal in place, focus all of your energy towards that goal. To do this, first make a list of everything you think that will help that goal. Then, force yourself to prioritize which things will have the most impact.
Of course, you can never know for sure the impact that certain activities are going to have, so you really just have to take your best guess.
Literally number off the top 5 things you think will help you achieve your goal. Then, get to work on the ones with the highest likelihood of helping you reach your goal.
Block All Other Activities
This is probably the hardest part of all. Noah says;
“Every day, your whole week, you can’t do anything if it’s not towards that goal.”
“If something is not going to move you closer to that goal, don’t do it. Don’t do coffee, don’t do email, don’t do social media, don’t watch TV, just stop it!”
Create some rules for yourself that you can only work on those top 5 things you identified and nothing else. (Well at least for your working day anyway.)
Knowing what you’re not going to work on is as important as knowing what you are going to work on. It’s a similar way of thinking to Warren Buffet’s 2-list strategy.
Set Up an Accountability System
We’ve written before about how accountability systems help you grow your business and this is something Noah recommends too. He says;
“Get a friend or someone that will actually hold you accountable.”
You can try setting up a mastermind group, or having a mentor or coach that will hold you accountable. Or you could join an accountability group – this is one that we recently setup and a lot of people are finding it very useful.
Set Up a Tracking System
He didn’t say this, but I’d add, set up a tracking system. Yes, you might want to record the results, but the most important thing here is to record and track your inputs. These are the things you can actually control.
For instance, you can’t really control how many customers buy from you this week, but you can control how many calls you make. You can’t control how much traffic your website gets, but you can control how often you publish a blog or post on social media.
In short, the more clarity you have, the better you’ll do. Decide on one clear goal and prioritize everything else around that.
Thanks Noah for the awesome insights.