Why did you start your company? You know that most startups fail. You know that building a company from scratch is incredibly difficult. You have heard stories of the ‘trough of sorrow,’ which sounds terrifying, and yet you launched your startup anyway.
Why? What are you trying to achieve? What are your goals?
- Create a profitable, sustainable company that can provide for you, your family and your employees
- Fulfill an unmet need in the marketplace that no one else seems to see
- Create a product or service that people love, value and come back to over and over again
- Put a dent in the universe by making a positive impact on the world
Great. Now, you need to create a roadmap to reach your goals. It’s a long journey. Years. Sometimes decades. You are going to have to create milestones along the way to ensure that you are always headed in the right direction.
Goals are the milestones along the way to your ultimate destination
If you were planning a drive from Boston to San Francisco, you wouldn’t just draw a straight line on a map between the two cities, jump in your car, and start driving. You would plot points along the way. Places to stop. Opportunities to take a fresh look at the map, making sure that you’re still on track. Confirming that your ultimate destination still makes sense and is within reach given the amount of cash in your wallet and gas in your car.
Breaking your long-term goal into smaller, more discrete goals, allows you to shorten the timeframe by which you can take the time to assess your progress. As you approach each goal, you have the opportunity to adjust. To make changes to your tactics to keep your startup on track.
That’s the key concept of goal setting in startups. Far too often entrepreneurs set a course to the goals that define their big vision, and then just starting checking off tasks on a never-ending to-do list. That’s the same as hopping in your car in Boston and just pointing it west, hoping you hit San Francisco at some point.
But rather than getting lost or running out of gas, a startup that doesn’t set goals along the path will run out of money, or you will lose your passion for solving a problem that seems to be unsolvable, simply because you didn’t a have a real plan.
Don’t Confuse Goals With Tactics
It’s important that you do not confuse goals with tactics. For example, “Achieving 300 orders per week by the end of March” is a goal. “Launch my website” is a tactic that might be an integral step to reaching that 300 orders per week.
The main reason you don’t want to set goals around tactics is that you may ultimately learn that the specific tactic isn’t the best approach to growing your business.
For example, you may start out by thinking that the fastest way to drive order volume is to build a website, only to realize that a) you don’t have the capital to build the website you need right now and b) your path to your initial sales is through a different channel such as direct sales, a social platform such as Instagram, or a small network of third-party resellers. If you set the goal on the key drivers of your business and the KPIs of product-market fit, and you’ll have the flexibility to then choose the tactics that can best help you reach that goal.
How Do You Choose The Right Goals?
Once you decide to set your goals along the journey, the key question becomes, what goals? And how do I know if I reached them? Which are the perfect questions to lead us to the topics of SMART Goals and KPIs.