The end of the year is almost here. For many, it’s a time to look back and reflect on the things we accomplished throughout the year. It’s also a time to set new goals for the upcoming year.
We know it can be difficult. The process takes time and it can be challenging to pin down worthwhile and strategic business goals. But goal setting is critical for business success and all business owners should take part in the process of reflection and defining new goals.
You can select goals based on your business performance in the past. Deciding to “double revenue” or “increase your member count by X%” will surely work. But these types of goals are only half the picture and don’t take into account the many factors affecting your industry.
A much more effective way to go about setting goals is by comparing your business to similar businesses in your industry, and then determining what you want to accomplish using that comparison. This process, known as benchmarking, can give you critical insight into how your business is performing and where you can make strategic changes to either accelerate or alter your course.
Benchmarking is established as a best practice for assessing how your business is performing in relation to others in your industry. Or, said without the business jargon, benchmarking tells you where your business stands, which is helpful for setting your strategic goals.
There are countless definitions of benchmarking, but this one is my favorite:
“A process for rigorously measuring your performance versus the best-in- class companies and using the analysis to meet and surpass the best- in-class.” [Kaiser Associates, a management consulting firm that has actively promoted benchmarking.]
From the earliest days of commerce, companies have used some form of benchmarking to be successful. One great benchmarking story is that of Xerox in the 1980s. Once the industry leader for the copier market, Xerox started to rapidly lose market share to industry newcomers from Japan, like Canon and Ricoh.
Xerox executives weren’t able to stop these heavy losses until they used benchmarking to understand their competitors. They found that companies from Japan were manufacturing their copiers at a cost of 40 – 50% less than Xerox did. This forced Xerox to evaluate their manufacturing processes and ultimately saved their business.Of course, not all stories of benchmarking will be as precarious as that of Xerox, but it’s still a process worth doing if you want to grow your business. Fortunately, we’ve compiled data from the many hundreds of affiliate businesses we’ve worked with, and we want to use it to help you benchmark your affiliate.
With our Affiliate Gym Benchmark Report, you’ll learn how you stack up against your peers in terms of financial management, member management, demographics and much more. From there, you should have the information you need to set strategic goals for your new year.