If startups don’t hit their goals, they will quickly die. Goals are the backbone of your company’s march towards its grand vision, without them your progress will be too slow to survive. Once you have agreed on the company’s overall strategy, here’s how to create your startup’s goals:
Set Achievable Goals
In search of exponential growth, founders often set aggressive goals. While this can be seen as motivating, the result of overly ambitious goals is often negative:
- Don’t do this. Goal — 300% month over month increase. While this goal may be exciting when set, it’s extremely difficult to achieve. Thus, you’re pushed to use unsustainable methods to generate short term growth, such as: high marketing spend, discounting, PR and new features. In addition, if you get halfway through the month and you haven’t beaten last month, everyone will know the goal isn’t achievable. This is demoralizing and will reduce productivity for the rest of the month.
- Do this. Goal — 15% month over month increase. A goal at this level is much easier to plan for and is also inline with investor expectations. You can look at the previous month’s successes and failures to guide your plan. Set specific expectations on what needs to be improved and by how much, to create the growth. This goal is also achievable even if the month starts badly, thus you can motivate your team through the end of the month.
Narrow the Focus
It’s always tempting to push for action on multiple projects: “Hey Team, ship this new feature, and while you’re at it, also fix these ‘small’ bugs. This results in mediocre performance across all the goals and minimal progress.
- Focus on the Company’s big problem. Split your business into 3 sections: distribution, engagement and churn. With these sections isolated it should be easy to see where the company should focus its effort.
- Focus the responsibility. Give ownership to one person, making it clear to all who is responsible. Splitting ownership of a goal across multiple people usually causes friction between the co-owners during the project.
- Let the Goal Owner focus. You must give the Goal Owner ample time to achieve the goal. If you overburden the owner with additional projects, you should expect mediocre results.
Create the Exchange
With an achievable goal and a focused team, the next step is for the goal owner to make a plan to reach the goal:
- Goal Owner requests resources. The owner asks management for the resources they need to hit the goal, based on the agreed plan: “I’ll need 2 engineers for 2 weeks to get us to 99% uptime, by the end of Q1”.
- Management request results. Management must now work hard to meet the resource requests of the owner and stay on schedule. If you do provide the resources on time, you can reasonably demand the results.
Hitting goals is the only way your startup will survive. Give your startup the best chance by setting achievable goals, owned by one person with the resources they need to make it happen.
This article is part of a series on Startup Growth.
How to Understand your Customers Before Launch
Your First Product Should Be Terrible
A Simple Framework for Goal Setting
Bad Ways to Set Startup Goals
Hit Goals or Your Startup Will Die
How to Get 10% Weekly Growth
Finding the Right Price for Early Customers
Which Pricing Model is Best for Your Startup?
When Should Startups Pursue Partners?
Early Traits of a $100M Company
Sterling Road invests in pre-seed B2B startups based in North America. Full process here: sterlingroad.com/process.
You can reach me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Kaego Rust and David Smooke for reading drafts of this.