Consumers buy into your story before they buy your product.
Your company’s story explains the purpose behind why you do what you do. It’s so much more than what you offer and how you present it. It’s the whole reason you went into business in the first place. It’s not the money, but the impact you can have on others. It’s a journey that details your passions, challenges, and victories that got you here. It’s emotional and uniquely you.
The same factors create a good BHAG. A BHAG must be clear, bound by time, measurable, focused, and mission-driven. But when you finally create a good BHAG, it becomes part of your story too. It’s much more than an overly ambitious goal — it condenses your journey in a simple statement.
A BHAG is different from traditional goal setting because every decision and action must directly support the BHAG. It becomes the True North for every department and every employee in the company.
It’s also different from other goal-setting methods because it’s tied so closely to your mission statement and values. It’s an extension of what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. Here are some of the ways your BHAG supplements your company’s story.
It showcases company growth.
If you want to see exponential growth, your best bet is with a BHAG. In addition to focusing efforts on short term goals, your team will be working toward one audacious long-term goal. Teams are able to achieve much more if a bigger goal guides their actions. They won’t be focused on achieving subpar milestones — they’ll want to have their cake and eat it too. It’s this relentless motivation that can drive your growth through the roof.
Nothing supplements your story like huge growth. Today’s business landscape is full of startups and half-baked ideas that never achieve more than media buzz. They’ve got a quirky name and a cool office space, but no real growth to prove their worth. If you can demonstrate concrete progress toward a greater goal, you can set yourself apart.
It reiterates and furthers your mission statement.
A good BHAG must meet many requirements. One of the most crucial is that it must have a direct tie to your mission statement. All a company’s efforts are pointing to the BHAG, so everything better be in line.
A mission statement echoes the goals, ambitions, and values of a company in a succinct way. It also helps customers understand your business initiatives and values. They know what to expect from your product, service, and company even before they become a customer. It allows them a peek into the type of experience they could have.
Getting your BHAG aligned with your mission lets you talk about your mission and how you’re achieving it. It’s a tool for clearly explaining the “why” behind your company. It’s a way to show your impact on your industry.
I kept these ideas in mind as I created the BHAG for our junk removal company: zero junk in landfills by 2025. It reminds everyone of our goals with one succinct sentence.
You can also attract new customers with your BHAG. The right BHAG will address your company’s message, goals, values, and larger industry problems. This will showcase the story and emotional sides of your business, making a great selling point for potential customers. Many customers even justify their purchase of something by connecting it to the company’s mission statement or values.
Consider the shoe company TOMS: for every pair of shoes they sell, they give a new pair of shoes to a child in need. Every purchase has a feel-good component tied to it. Customers aren’t just spending their money on a product, they’re investing their money in something bigger.
It shows your company is forward-thinking.
A BHAG gets everyone moving in the same direction. Now they have one overarching goal to unite them and around which they can become obsessed. This helps align the whole business and all decisions moving forward. When people band together around a common cause, they’re more likely to collaborate and generate new ideas.
A BHAG requires you to get creative. Unlike other goal setting initiatives, BHAGs don’t have a clear plan attached to them. You just put boots on the ground and get to work instead. The goal is so big that it requires infatuation, creative thinking, and rapid execution to make real progress. It’s the only way forward.
You’ll want to use small objectives to reach this massive goal. But don’t let these blind you from seeing your BHAG. To prevent this, adopt the SMART approach — set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely objectives that directly support your BHAG. It keeps you going full steam ahead without sending you off the tracks.
It demonstrates your focus on social good.
Household names like Walmart and Nike used BHAGs to become the dominant players in their respective markets. But there’s one new element that BHAGs need to incorporate if they want to succeed in today’s ever-competitive world: a direct tie to a social purpose.
Today’s customers are different than previous generations. Crafty sales pitches or fancy websites aren’t enough to gain their trust any longer. What they want is something more than a company — they want to buy into an experience, and part of that experience relates to a social issue. They want to know that their loyalty goes beyond a brand and directly affects a larger issue on a global scale.
To win over your target audience’s attention and loyalty, your BHAG needs to focus on a social purpose. Consider why you went into business in the first place. This can help you identify what social purpose your BHAG needs to incorporate to empower your brand.
It lets you talk about important industry problems.
BHAGs create camaraderie and motivate team members, but they also give you a safe way to talk about problems in your industry. Your BHAG represents your effort to solve those problems when no one else rose to the challenge.
Many companies can take small bites out of these problems, but they’re not about to fix the entire thing. But a good BHAG shines a light on an industry problem in a constructive way. It reminds everyone that there are big problems worth solving, and they’re worth solving together.
Our BHAG points out the industry-wide problem of recycling. We provide environmentally friendly junk removal services, but it’s rather difficult to do. There are many barriers standing in our way to staying green: a shortage of recycling centers, minimal incentives to recycle, and poor regulations are just the start. But by bringing these roadblocks to the surface, we also open up conversations.
Just as a typical story structure has a beginning, middle, and end, BHAGs have their own structure. At the beginning you’re creating your BHAG, in the middle you’re tackling the challenges in the way, and at the end you’re accomplishing your BHAG.
How will your story end?
Josh Cohen is the CEO and founder of Junkluggers. He founded Junkluggers out of his mom’s Dodge Durango 14 years ago and has grown the company into one of the largest junk removal franchises in the country. For Josh, it’s about much more than just hauling junk away. He has a greater mission guiding everything they do. Their B.H.A.G. is to ensure no junk collected by Junkluggers enters a landfill by 2025. They are completing the process now to convert their corporation into a b-corp meaning that while they do strive for profits, they’re also driven by and held accountable to bettering the world.