How to Set Goals for Aggressive Business Growth (Museum Hack Case Study)

Aswin John
4 min readDec 15, 2020

This article was inspired by Noah Kagan’s conversation with Michael Alexis from Museum Hack

Looking for a framework on how to set business goals for the new year?

Here’s a real-life case-study on how Museum Hacks thinks about setting corporate goals and how to measure progress towards those goals.


  1. How to drive growth using ambitious goals
  2. How to get alignment and company-wide buy-in on goals
  3. Why hope is a terrible strategy

Think Aggressive

Museum Hack had hit a plateau in revenue.

Museum Hack offers renegade tours of the world’s largest museums. They grew revenue from $1.2 million to $2.6 million between 2015 and 2017.

Pretty awesome growth!

In 2018 they grew $200,000 to $2.8 million. They had initially set their 2019 goal to be $3 million.

Not quite the 2x growth they had seen before.

They first had to set a more aggressive goal.

“Aggressive” means different things for every company. But aim for at least 25% growth.

Michael spoke with his team and they came back with a profit goal that was 40% higher than the year before.

Setting a challenging goal can spur creativity and provide focus.

Get Focused

Almost everyone has heard of the 80/20 rule.

It’s cliché, but if you look at any company, you’ll see that relatively few things bring in most of the money.

Allocate most resources to the thing that is bringing in the most money. Be experimental and long-term with the rest.

For Museum Hack, the majority of their revenue came through corporate tours and the remainder came from public tours and museum consulting.

Michael already believed that growing corporate sales would be the best way to hit their new goals. He realized that growing corporate sales would need to come at the expense of something else.

The team decided to move resources from lower priorities, like pure brand plays, to doubling corporate sales because they had bought-in to the goal.

Become Aligned

Everyone at your company (or at least in your management team) should know your goals. This helps everyone be on the same page and work towards the target.

Then you just have to check-in on progress towards that target.

At AppSumo, the Groupon for software, they have an all-hands meeting every week where they review the progress towards the yearly revenue target.

Museum Hack had a system to check in on their goals where they would:

  • look at the previous year’s numbers
  • make predictions on how much each category could grow
  • and look at what strategies they could use to grow in each area.

Each month they would review the financials to see what was growing.

In this method, they were looking at the results but not the inputs. 👎

Measuring Inputs

There are a million things that we could try to use to grow our business but only a few strategies will actually make a large impact.

The specific tactics are particular to each industry and company. You have to plan backward from the goal and decide what inputs will output the results you want.

Measuring your team’s inputs allows you to decide which strategies to remove or double down on.

You can use a proactive dashboard (coined by noah kagan) because it gives you a view of what was done each week.

It gives each employee clarity on what they should be prioritizing and gives the management team clarity on what is working.

Museum Hack had success with organic SEO and used cold emails and ads as needed.

They now have a controllable dashboard where they can see progress towards:

  • Cold email: outreach/week
  • SEO: content/week
  • Ad spend: spend/month

They review the dashboard every 4–6 weeks.

These strategies allow them to track their progress towards achieving their new aggressive growth goal.

In conclusion:

  • Think aggressive — Set a goal that is aggressive enough that it will get your team thinking of creative ways to meet it (think at least 25% revenue growth).
  • Get focused — There are a few things in your company that are bringing in 80% of the results. Focus on those first.
  • Become aligned — Everyone in your organization should be able to identify the company’s primary goal.
  • Measure inputs — You can only control your activities. Decide the inputs that you’re going to track. Then you can monitor the outputs and decide what to change or double down on.

Happy goal setting!



Aswin John

A young professional taking action on the content he reads and documenting it on (+ tweeting bad jokes at