Benchmarking is Better Than a Resolution and Gets Better Results, Too!

Guest Writer: Terri Langhans, CSP

Let’s put this behind us.

Benchmarks are better than resolutions and get better results!

Just days after New Year’s, my daughter and I were talking about making and breaking resolutions. She said hers would be easy to keep. She wanted to cook-in more. Kelsey is in her last semester of graduate school and races between school, internship, work and the gym, eating or munching on the run, or standing at the kitchen counter in her apartment.

I took a deep breath, pondering whether I should just say, “That’s a good one, sweetie,” wearing my Mommy Hat, or tell her what I really thought, wearing my Business Hat.

I managed both. “That’s a good one, sweetie. You’re such a good cook, and you’ll probably save money, too.” Pause. “And, you know what I tell people in my audiences–to put a number on it and create a benchmark. Otherwise it’s not going to happen.”

“It’s cooking, Mom, not accounting,” she sighed. “But what’s a benchmark, again?”

I told her this, essentially.

Fancy definition: it’s a number that measures an activity or result. Real world example: whether you want to cook-in, play tennis, exercise, read, write, walk, run, dance, speak, consult, sell or save more, put a number on it. How many times a MONTH will you make it happen? 1? 4? 8? 16? 20? 30?

Don’t say 10. I mean, you could say you’re going to do something 10 times a month, but it gives me a brain cramp. Yoga 10 times a month? Is that 2 times one week, 3 times the next week, then 2 and 3 again? Make the math easily divisible by 4, as in weeks in a month. Dial it down to 8 or crank it up to 12.

Forget the annual goal.

Think monthly, and then at the end of the month it’s like New Year’s Eve again. Mark LeBlanc of Small Business Success calls it “re-setting your counters to zero.” And why have that wonderful clear-the-slate, fresh start New Year’s feeling once a year when you can get it 12?!

Here are some categories you might want to benchmark every month. This is a blended list of both personal and professional benchmarks:

Financial

  • Optimistic # (Revenue)
  • Salary or draw
  • Savings
  • Donate (time or money)

Marketing

  • Phone calls
  • Direct mail
  • Email Blast (this one!)

Selling

  • Bookings
  • Meaningful Conversations
  • Discussion Documents

Health

  • Exercise (Break-A-Sweat Days for me)
  • Diet (Dairy-free for me; cooking-in for Kelsey)
  • Massage

Fun (Work/Life Balance!)

  • Tennis (or whatever sport you enjoy)
  • Entertaining (inviting people over for dinner)
  • Finish a novel (If I’m reading a novel I’m not working.)

Family

  • Date night
  • Movie/dinner with Mom (my Mom)
  • Bailey (Skype my granddaughter)

Spiritual

  • Church/synagogue/worship
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Service

If it’s worth doing or having, it’s worth measuring! What do YOU want more of this MONTH and next? Comment on my Blahg.

P.S. I go into more detail about this in my 1-Day workshop, Help Them Hire You! How to Grow Your Business When YOU Are the Business. Plus we’ll dive deep into how be more focused on a daily basis, attract more clients, articulate your value and still be able to deliver the client work you’ve already booked.

P.P.S. I’ve revised the workshop to be a shorter, sharper, single day with a 90-minute follow-up coaching call 10 days later. And a no-brainer fee.

Editor’s Note: I got the opportunity to attend a brief “round table” sit down with Terri and I think that not only is she funny, but she delivers great business and marketing advice delivered in a style that makes you want to learn more. However, from her website, she describes herself as “I’m the former CEO of a national ad agency and marketing firm that I started from scratch and sold to a publicly-traded Big Boy in the mid-1990′s. I did the earn out, and the you’re-only-as-good-as-last-month’s numbers thing, “retired” and I hardly twitch at all anymore.” Either way, check her out.

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