Today someone asked “How do you know what numbers to pick for your business targets?”
(This was asked in response to an earlier post, If You Don’t Have This, You Don’t Have A Strategy.)
In that post I talked about how people who succeed generally have some form of a concrete plan, with specific checkpoints and numbers included.
For example, they’re going to get their list to 2,000 subscribers before they launch their first product. Or they’re going to write two books and then get on the speaker circuit. Or they’re going to build a platform of 25,000 people and then try and use that as leverage for a book deal.
Included in today’s question was “How do people know what numbers to pick? They kind of sound like they were picked out of thin air.”
That’s a very good question.
The answer is, successful people pick numbers out of thin air all the time.
Nobody knows what exact number they need to achieve a certain result.
Do you need 2,000 subscribers to launch your first product, or two books to get on the speaker circuit, or 25,000 people on FaceSnapTagram to achieve your goals?
Probably not. The odds of those numbers being either too large or too small or just right are about the same.
But! Something about the number seems to make sense to the person setting the goal. It seems, for whatever gut reason, to feel like it’s in the ballpark.
Play a little imagination game with me.
Imagine you were going to buy a new car. ‘Bout how much do you think you need for the kind of car you’d be happy with?
Now imagine you were going to buy a used car. Around how much cash would you expect to need to get something reliable?
Now imagine you were going to buy a house in your area, the kind you’d generally like. Not one that has a yacht in the backyard (unless you currently have one, and you want to move it to your new digs). What’s the ballpark amount you’d need to have access to for that house?
The specific numbers are irrelevant. What’s relevant is your gut feeling on what seems reasonable for success.
Spending $50 on a used car would probably get you something you couldn’t drive off the property. Spending $250? Same deal. But you have a number in mind on what seems reasonable. Your gut tells you at what dollar value it seems possible for you to get a car you’d be okay with.
That’s how the people who are succeeding pick their numbers. It’s just a ballpark guess at the threshold number that makes things possible. Not “guaranteed” – but POSSIBLE.
That is why “more” is not a business plan.
The person who says “I need to get more people on my list”, and “I need to get more products in my store”, and “I need to get more traction on social media” is not setting themselves up for success.
The reason for that is they will forever be chasing shiny objects and distractions that promise “more”. And they’ll never know when enough is enough, so back to “more” they’ll go.
That’s a recipe for a very dysfunctional, very scattered way of doing business.
But the person who has a number in mind starts thinking concretely about how to get to that number.
The person dead set on getting 2,000 subscribers thinks very hard about their specific strategies. They also don’t dilute their efforts by also trying to get a bunch of products in the store. One main goal at a time.
And that tends to lead to a lot more focused effort, and a lot more daily action towards that goal without all that pesky distraction.
And lo and behold, they get their 2,000 subscribers before everyone else does.
You could argue that setting a target is arbitrary, and you’d be right.
It may be true that setting those arbitrary numbers acts like a placebo. For that person in the example, the 2,000 subscribers might not be what leads to their success.
It might be the fact that they took their business very seriously and focused on a goal that led to their success.
But I sure like placebos, provided they work.
If your current business plan is to get “more” of the metrics you care about, you may want to consider setting a concrete number.
Just a thought.