The Business Goal Setting Framework Used By An 8x Founder

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Let me be honest – business goal setting is a really tough exercise.

On the surface, it seems like a pretty easy thing to do. All you need to do is take out a notebook, write down some declarative statements like “I will be successful!” or “Increase revenue to $1 million by the end of the year!” and you’re done.

And yet, more than 80% of small business owners admit that they don’t keep track of their business goals, and 77% fail to reach the vision they have for their company.

The truth is, goal setting isn’t easy, or at least, it isn’t as easy as we originally thought.

Proper goal setting requires more than a smile on your face and a song in your heart. To really get your business the results you want and the success you desire, you need to learn how to set the kind of goals you’ll actually keep and work towards.

Pop Quiz: What separates a 6-figure business from an 8-figure business? The answer might surprise you. Find out here.

What you’re going to get out of today’s article is our founder and CEO Mitch Harper’s exact process for how he plans, sets, and achieves his goals.

(If you’re not familiar with Mitch, he’s started 8 businesses which have generated over a quarter of a BILLION dollars in total sales, so he definitely knows a thing or two about goals and planning!)

It’s a process he’s taught thousands of business owners over the years and he himself uses what you’re about to discover to set goals in his own businesses (including Insane Growth) as well.

If you really want to make this year different — to make this year a jumping off point for the rest of your life — then read on to find out how to set business goals the right way.

Bonus Download: Get Mitch’s planning templates for FREE, so you can use them to set your goals and grow your business. Click here to grab them now.

Stop, Scale, and Start

The first thing you need to do before you start looking into the future is to make sure you have a firm view of the past. That means taking the time to do a retrospective audit of the past year to see what lessons you can take with you into the new year.

To do that, we use the “Stop, Scale, and Start” formula.

Take a look at all initiatives, strategies, and tactics you implemented in the past year and sort them into one of three categories:

  • Stop: For anything that didn’t work out last year or didn’t achieve the results we wanted, we place this in the Stop category. By figuring out what not to do, we can start narrowing our focus and make sure we’re only investing our time and efforts into things that’ll actually grow the business.
  • Scale: This next category is for the strategies and tactics that went well and should be scaled up. These are the activities that have been proven to work and should aggressively grow.
  • Start: The Start category is for anything new you want to try out this year. Perhaps there’s a new marketing tactic you want to try, or you want to hire more people. Ask yourself, “What should I start doing so I can reach my goals sooner?”

Check out the example below to see this framework in action:

Bonus Download: Get Mitch’s planning templates for FREE, so you can use them to set your goals and grow your business. Click here to grab them now.

“Why Stop This?”

The crucial thing to remember when doing this exercise is you have to be completely, one hundred percent honest with yourself. While it can be uncomfortable looking at past mistakes and failures, it’s absolutely necessary if you want to fully absorb the lessons they can teach you.

For everything that’s placed in the Stop column, take the time to critically examine the reasons behind why it didn’t work. Were the reasons inside or outside of your control? Were certain mistakes preventable, and if so, why?

An effective way to learn from failure is to see where your mistake lands in the “Spectrum of Reasons for Failure” by Harvard Business Review.

Image via Harvard Business Review

For example, you might have launched an influencer marketing campaign last year that brought back terrible results. Before writing off influencer marketing completely as a marketing strategy that’ll never work for your business, take a moment to investigate why it didn’t work out.

Perhaps the influencers you partnered with were a bad fit for your audience or the communication between your brand and the influencers was poor and confusing. Whatever the reasons are, it’s important to learn from your mistakes so you don’t have to make them again.

“How Is This Scalable?”

It’s all well and good to say you want to scale certain activities, but as any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you, you need to know how you’re going to scale them effectively.

According to a study by the Startup Genome Report, a whopping 74% of startups fail due to underestimating the challenges and costs of scaling their businesses. Don’t make the same mistake.

When looking at the all the initiatives listed in the Scale category, think very carefully about what needs to happen and what you need to do to create sustainable business growth. What are the processes you need to put in place? What kind of resources do you need?

For example, if Facebook advertising was a winner for you, it can be as simple as investing more money into your Facebook ads account.

Image via Agorapulse

On the other hand, in order to scale effectively, you might need to outsource that responsibility to someone else. This may mean making a plan to hire an outside specialist or train someone on your team to handle it.

Having a goal is all well and good, but having an actionable plan on how to reach those goals is even better.

“What Does Starting This Achieve?”

The final part of this exercise is to ensure you have a clear idea of why and how these new strategies are going to help grow your business.

Don’t fall victim to shiny object syndrome and pursue something just because it happens to be the latest trend or fad. All this will achieve is make you burn through cash, confuse your team, and, ultimately, handicap your ability to succeed.

Think critically and examine how this new project is going to help bring you closer to your business goals.

It’s great if you want to start using direct mail as part of your marketing strategy, but you need to honestly ask yourself what it is you want to achieve by doing so. Are you doing this to increase your customer lifetime value? How do you think this will ultimately boost sales?

Just like with the activities in the “Scale” category, you need to think carefully about how you’re going to implement this project, what it is you want to achieve, and how you’re going to measure its success or failure.

PRO TIP: Ask your mentors and peers to help review your goals, and see what they have to say. You might be surprised at the amount of helpful advice you’ll receive by asking others for their opinions.

Bonus Download: Get Mitch’s planning templates for FREE, so you can use them to set your goals and grow your business. Click here to grab them now.

Mapping Out Milestones

After completing the “Stop, Scale, and Start” exercise, you should now have a list of items for you to take action on.

For many of us, this is usually the end of the entire goal setting process. After all, you’ve made up a list of action items and goals you want to achieve, and that should be the end of that, right?

Well, no.

The problem is that most of us end up putting that list in a drawer somewhere, forgetting about it entirely within a week or two. Right now, all those things on that list of yours are nothing more than words on paper; to turn it into something tangible and achievable, you need to get a plan in place.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The next step of our business goal setting process is to take those action items we’ve come up with and map out when you plan on executing them in the year.

Research has shown that setting a time and date for when you want to achieve your goals makes you 91% more likely to achieve them.

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Here’s an example of what a completed milestone map might look like:

We’ve found that the reason setting a timeline like this works so well is because we are naturally better at processing visual data over something such as text. By mapping out your milestones on a timeline, you’ll have a much easier time keeping track (and achieving) the goals you set for yourself.

Bonus Download: Get Mitch’s planning templates for FREE, so you can use them to set your goals and grow your business. Click here to grab them now.

The aim of this exercise is to help get you into the right mindset for achieving your business goals, by getting you to think about when and how you’re going to achieve them.

Factoring in Other Goals

Something you’ve probably noticed in the example above is that we’ve also included goals relating to topics such as health, family, and relationships.

That’s because we are big believers in achieving success through finding balance in all aspects of your life.

This is something we learned from Tony Robbins’ and his Wheel of Life concept (something we’ll get into a little later), which is all about taking a holistic look at your life to ensure you’re not sacrificing important parts of your life, like health and family, to further another aspect.

The Wheel of Life breaks down everything into eight separate categories: Health, Finances, Relationships, Business, Family, Learning, Fun & Hobbies, and Contribution.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to include all the other categories in your own timeline, and you can keep it strictly to business. But our personal philosophy has always been about building a business that’ll allow us to live the life you want, and that includes every aspect of your life, not just your business.

That’s why we always start our timelines by inputting important dates such as anniversaries, birthdays, and planned vacations. That way we can have our business work around and support these important life events, instead of having the business consume it entirely.

After we’ve mapped out those important life milestones, we include our business goals and action items from the “Start, Scale, and Stop” exercise.

This is when you want to be aggressively realistic about when you can achieve these goals. Don’t fall victim to the planning fallacy, in which you severely underestimate the amount of time and resources required to complete a project.

Once we’ve included our business goals, we input goals from the other categories, taking care to ensure there’s an even spread of goals and action items throughout the year so we’re not overloaded in a single month or quarter.

Finally, we’ll color code our milestones, selecting no more than five as “Major Milestones”: goals that will move our lives or business forward in a major way.

We’ve found that color-coding milestones is an easy way to maintain a good balance in life. If your timeline in dominated in green (business) for example, then while your business might take off, other aspects of your life will inevitably suffer for it.

Bonus Download: Get Mitch’s planning templates for FREE, so you can use them to set your goals and grow your business. Click here to grab them now.

Points of Focus (POF)

Now that we have ourselves a milestone map and a solid idea of what we need to do on a macro level, it’s time to narrow that focus on a micro level. This means the day-to-day things we need to do in order to achieve those long-term goals that we just set for ourselves.

To do this, we turn to a fun little exercise called the Wheel of Life. It’s something we do at the start of every week to help us gain focus and clarity on what we should be working on that week.

The Wheel of Life

Originally invented by Paul Meyer, the Wheel of Life concept has since become incredibly popular among life coaches, motivational speakers, and personal development circles, with everyone from MindTools to famed marketer Zig Ziglar coming up with their own versions.

The Wheel of Life works as a visual representation of your life, breaking it up into several distinct categories or areas, such as money, family, and even spirituality. The idea is that each area represents a vital need or dimension of your life that you need to have fulfilled in order to be happy and successful.

It works by assigning a score to each area from one to ten, with the goal of ensuring your wheel is as balanced as possible. When one of the “spokes” is shorter than the others, the wheel, like any other wheel, becomes unstable and is more likely to crash.

By using the Wheel of Life, you can deduce which areas of your life are being neglected and require more attention and focus.

As entrepreneurs, our version of the Wheel of Life is made up of eight areas that include Health, Finances, Relationships, Business, Family, Learning, Fun & Hobbies, and Contribution.

Something I’m sure you can relate to if you’re reading this is that it’s entirely possible to be extremely successful is one aspect of your life and still be miserable.

That’s why we are such firm believers that true success doesn’t lie in extreme success in just one area of your life, but in all aspects.

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

To put the Wheel of Life into practice, we recommend you start off every week by quickly filling in your own graph.

Download Wheel of Life Template: Gain balance in all aspects of your life with Insane Growth’s entrepreneurial Wheel of Life. Download the template here.

Undoubtedly, there will be areas in which you score pretty highly and others that are very low. For example, you might find that you’re feeling great about your Business, but you’re not doing too well when it comes to Learning and Relationships.

This tells you those are two of the areas you’ll need to focus on for the week.

After filling out your Wheel of Time, select three areas of your life that you’ll focus on for that week.

Do this by scheduling at least one thing in your calendar that will improve your score in that area. For example, if your Learning score is low, set aside some time to catch up on those books you’ve been putting off, or listen to a podcast that’ll teach you something.

Remember: The goal is to make sure your life is as balanced as possible, not to score incredibly high in every single category.

Bonus Download: Get Mitch’s planning templates for FREE, so you can use them to set your goals and grow your business. Click here to grab them now.


Anyone can write down a list of goals and call it a day, but it really takes something special to be able to put in the time and effort to actually follow through.

Time and time again we’ve seen how the most successful people in the world are all masters at effective goal setting, and by following the process that we’ve outlined above you can do the same.

It’s only by taking the time to sit down and think about your goals, the lessons you learnt from past mistakes, and making sure to review your progress an ongoing habit will you be able to plan for, and achieve, long-term success.

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