Performance Goals vs. Outcome Goals

UPDATED: September 1, 2021

I talk with clients all the time about ROI – Return on Investment.

One of my main objectives when building a new website & digital marketing strategy is helping the client SEE the ROI as quickly as possible.

Naturally goals come into the conversation.

To help a client set realistic goals, I ask questions:

Where are you now?

Where do you want to be in a year from now?

What’s your website doing for your business to help you get there?

If we do ___________, how will that affect ______________?

What does success look like for your business website?

These are all important questions we review early on in the Discovery Process.

When I think about goals, the Serenity Prayer comes to mind:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I can’t always control everything.

Sometimes, no matter how much work I do on a project, the results aren’t coming as quickly as I’d like.

I have to make adjustments.

Making Goal Adjustments

I love sports.

I played a lot of sports as a kid. And I learned many valuable lessons that have helped me as a business owner today.

One of those lessons is that I can’t control my height.

Growing up I played basketball nearly every day. But no matter how much I practiced, that practice wasn’t going to change my height (something I couldn’t change).

Eventually I had to change my goals and focus on other priorities.

That experience, along with countless others in business, brings me to the point of today’s conversation: Performance Goals vs. Outcome Goals.

Performance vs Outcome Goals – What’s the Difference?

Have you ever heard of these concepts?

Performance Goals?

Outcome Goals?

Why are these types of goals even worth considering?

performance goalsWe all want outcomes, results, money in the bank.

But before that happens we have to take the necessary steps to get everything in place.

As I’ve studied about goals and goal setting, a couple terms kept coming up: performance goals & outcome goals.

The summary of the two goals is simple:

I CAN control a performance goal.

I CAN’T control an outcome goal.

In other words,

“Performance based goals can be controlled by the person who sets the goals while outcome based goals are frequently controlled by others…Performance goals focus on the person’s performance while outcome goals focus strictly on the outcome or result.”

This is really helpful when thinking about goals for a business.

What CAN I control?

What CAN’T I control?

Help me to know the difference!

The Danger of Outcome Goals

Goals based on outcomes are extremely vulnerable to failure because of things beyond my control.

For example, I might achieve a personal best time in a race, but still be disqualified due to a mistake by the judge.

If my outcome goal was to be in the top three, then I’m screwed.

However, if I set a performance goal of achieving a particular time, then despite the outcome or the decisions of others, I’ll have achieved the goal and can know I did my best.

Another example of an outcome goal is to make a certain amount of money.

In my Moller Mission Statement, I set some specific “outcome goals”.

But, in front of those outcome goals were well defined, written out action steps (or “performance goals”) that I committed to in order to give myself the best chance to achieve the final result.

If I want to make a certain amount of money, I’d better set specific goals I have control of that lead me down that path.

So here’s an important question:

What performance goals can I set that will help me achieve the outcomes I’d like to see?

The Power of Performance Goals

I have control of performance goals. They are measurable, things I can track.

In an online business, performance goals may be things like this:

  • I will write one article per week on Wednesday.
  • I will contact 2  businesses today in my target niche.
  • I will reach out to 2 podcasts today to offer to guest speak.
  • I will create 3 videos on Friday of this week & schedule them to publish.
  • I will record my performance on a spreadsheet.
  • I will report back to my mentor.

Do I have “outcomes” in mind?

YES!

But the outcomes are based more on my performance than anyone else’s.

It doesn’t say I will close 2 deals this week. But by contacting 2 businesses this week, I’m giving myself the best chance to make connections that will result in new business.

Here are some questions to consider when setting “performance goals” for your online business:

  • What do I need to do today to make a sale?
  • How many people do I plan to contact every day to build my network?
  • When I contact these people, what am I going to ask them?
  • What content am I going to consume to get ideas for help with my sales?
  • How many current clients will I talk to about their purchases and attempt to get repeat business with?
  • Do I have a “Plan of Attack” on what I’m going to do each day to increase the chances of making more sales?

How Do I Apply This Information Today?

Here’s a real example that I’m working on in order to implement the performance goal ideas:

I have a goal, maybe it’s an outcome goal, to use video more as a marketing channel in my business.

Ultimately I want to create online courses that help my clients grow their online businesses.

Video is an essential piece in that puzzle.

So I need to get going with video creation.

Where am I now?

I have two YouTube Channels.

One has 1,150 subscribers, 1,164,471 views, and was started on May 19th, 2013.

The other has 20 subscribers, 30,989 views, and was started on March 16, 2012.

The first one has all kinds of random videos: a funny dance recital video that has over 1 MILLION views, family stuff, DIY handyman stuff, a pool install, and some website tips and tricks. Not very focused or niche.

The second one has mostly just website tips, tutorials, & guidance. But obviously very little traction.

The first is currently titled VID801.

The second is currently titled Nate Moller.

My natural inclination is to continue to grow the VID801 channel. But in all my video research, there’s a lot of clean up that would have to happen.

And the majority of those subscribers are probably mostly interested in the funny dance recital – NOT digital marketing.

So, my decision is to work on the Nate Moller channel.

Here are my performance goals:

1.  I will have my designer create a channel style guide (banner background, icon, color scheme, logo implementation, etc.)

2. I will review content I currently have and create an editorial calendar, focusing on creating 3 videos every Friday.

3. I will watch 2 of the the 400+ Watch Later videos  every day and take detailed notes on what I’m learning.

4. I will IMPLEMENT those notes in my video strategy.

5. I will record my progress in a Google Spreadsheet.

So that’s my plan.

Sharing it with readers like you can be helpful.

Now that I’ve written it out, printed it, and put it on my desk, I plan to remind myself of it each day.

Let’s get your take on this.

What are “Performance Goals” you plan to set the help you get the “Outcomes” you want?

Leave a comment below! 👇