A big takeaway I had from this book is figuring out what you want out of your business, and how it’s going to serve the plans you have for your life. The author, Michael Gerber, details these as your Primary Aim and your Strategic Objective.
According to the book, the strategic objective is “a very clear statement of what your business has to ultimately do for you to achieve your Primary Aim.”
Your primary aim is essentially how you want your funeral to go. That may sound strange, but think about it:
What do you want people to say about you, your accomplishments, and your life story when it comes time for your funeral?
When I read this, I was riding the bus and I was definitely inspired. I had heard this before but it didn’t hit me like it had on that day. So on that bus ride, I came up with a list of things that I literally wrote on the back of a receipt – it was the only paper I had with me at the time.
This is kind of personal, but wanted to share it with you if you needed some inspiration. Forgive the oil stains on the paper – and remember I didn’t have much room to expand on each topic. 🙂
Since I have awesome handwriting, I’ll list them off for you and elaborate a bit:
A great person who took care of those she loved
My family is very small, and I grew up with a single mom who sacrificed a lot for me. I want to be able to help her navigate life as she gets older and support her. Also, I have two best friends who impacted my life in so many ways and they both have little kids. I want to support them as their kids grow and be there for all the other people in my life who were there for me when I needed it.
I mentioned my two best friends have little ones, and I’d love to be a good role model of someone who never gave up for them.
Always made people laugh
I think what I mean by this one is more about helping people and making them smile. I’m not the funniest person and so I’m always going to make people laugh, but I have my moments. I think bringing joy and helping people is enough.
Changed lives by inspiring
The whole reason I’m writing this blog is to show others that anything is possible. Even something I write makes a small, but positive, impact on their mindset, I’m happy.
An Asset to the community, not only monetarily
I don’t want to just give money to the community and have that be my contribution. I want to start volunteering and actually give back in more ways than money.
Saw nothing as impossible
I’ve taken a lot of risks lately, but they were calculated and well planned out (at least I hope!). I want to keep pushing the envelope and taking those risks, with the right planning so they aren’t actually risky, even if they seem that way from the outside.
Changed mindsets, not just inspired people
This goes with the 4th bullet point above – I don’t want to just inspire people to make changes, although that’s nice. I want them to actually know why they are doing what they’re doing and believe in themselves enough for the inspiration to become internal, not just external from something that was said.
So, with those defining my Primary Aim, I need to figure out my Strategic Objective in order to accomplish those things.
Creating Your Strategic Objective
Here is a few quotes that, when combined, are the best explanation of the Strategic Objective I found throughout the book:
The Strategic Objective “is the vision of the finished product that is and will be your business.”
Essentially he’s saying that you should be thinking in advance what you want the business to look like when it’s “successful” or “complete”. What’s the end goal with your business?
“It is NOT a business plan. It is a product of your life plan, as well as your business strategy and plan. Your life plan shapes your life and the business that is to serve it. Your business strategy and plan are a way of communicating to anyone you must communicate to the direction your business is going, how it intends to get there, and the specific benchmarks it will need to hit in order for the strategy and plan to work.
But unless your business strategy and plan can be reduced to a set of simple and clearly stated standards, it will do more to confuse you than help. Your strategic objective is just such a list of standards. A tool for measuring your progress toward a specific end. Designed for implementation NOT rationalization.”
Okay, so there are a few pieces to that.
Your Life Plan – I took this as the primary aim, it is the way you want your life to go. When you get to the end and look back, how do you want your life to look?
Your Business Strategy – How you communicate the direction your business is going – the overarching goal of your strategic objective
Strategic Objective – A clear set of standards for measuring your progress towards that Life Plan
Great, a set of standards, but what kind of standards are we talking about here?
This is where you’ll need to know big your vision is and how big your company will be when it’s finally done? You’ll need to calculate out your gross revenues, gross profits, pre-tax profits, and your after-tax profits.
The biggest realization for me in this section is this: “the question becomes, how much money do I need to live the way I wish? Not in income, but in assets. In other words, how much money do you need in order to be independent of work, to be free?”
I feel like I’ve always thought of business goals as income, revenue, etc., but you need to think of it in terms of your assets too. I took this to mean: “Okay $150k income a year is a great goal, but you’re going to need money set aside in retirement, real estate investments, etc.”
I was not taking into account overall assets, only income, revenue, etc.
Standard #2 = An Opportunity Worth Pursuing
This second standard is set in place to make sure you figure out if your business can fulfill the financial standards you’ve created. “If it’s reasonable to assume that it can, the business is worth pursuing”if not, then forget it – no matter how exciting it might be. He literally says to walk away from it if not, or “it will consume too much of your previous time and prevent you from finding a true Opportunity Worth Pursuing.”
If you aren’t sure, ask yourself this: “Does the business I have in mind alleviate a frustration experienced by a large enough group of consumers to make it worth my while?”
Standards #3 through 10 (or more)
Everyone is going to have other standards to take into consideration based on what kind of business you have and what your Primary Aim is. Some examples Michael Gerber gave were:
When will your prototype be completed? 2 years, 10 years?
Where are you going to be in business? Locally, regionally, nationally?
Are you going to be a retail business, a wholesale business, or maybe a combo of the two?
What standards are you going to insist upon when it comes to things like:
This list is just the start of some other ideas, but there are plenty of others. I found this exercise of figuring out my Primary Aim and Strategic Objective really important and eye-opening. I plan to keep a copy of it handy for whenever I lose focus of what I’m working towards. You can find more information about this in The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber.
Are you ready to build your own primary aim and strategic objective? I put together a template you can use to complete this exercise for your own business.