by Philip Acuña
The ability to effectively manage and achieve long term goals is one of the most critical factors in determining a young startup’s success.
Being able to do so however often proves to be more difficult than imagined, especially considering the countless obstacles and opportunities for distraction that arise in the course of growing a business.
If your company is doing well, you may be tempted into taking on more projects than you can realistically manage, taking energy away from your existing clients and long-term endeavors. If you’re underperforming on the other hand, then worrying about your company’s long-term trajectory may seem irrelevant compared to the day-to-day struggle of simply staying afloat.
We asked a number of different startup CEOs what their best piece of advice was for achieving long-term company goals. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Objectives and Key Results.
“At Google, we did something called OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), which we have carried over to our current company. Essentially, the company sets 3-5 large OKRS for the quarter, or the year. Examples could be, reach over $1MM in Revenue, hire four new sales hires, increase profit margins by X %, etc. The more these can be quantified the better. From here, each division will set their own OKRs, that would roll into the company OKRs. Finally, each team member within the divisions would do their own OKRs to help reach the divisional and company goals. This strategy ensures that the entire organization is aligned with company goals and help management quantify the progress of the their team and individuals.”
Dan Daugherty, Remotely
2. Hire Right.
“Invest time in hiring the best people and best company fits that you can find. It is often tempting to cut corners and just get someone in the door given the feverish pace of startups, but it almost always pays to wait and identify the right fit.
Also, set short term goals. It may seem conflicting but long-term goals for startups are too difficult to identify and to hard to manage to given the rapidly changing nature of the business. Identify the next big milestone that needs to be achieved and be laser focused on it. Startups are a game of survival and you need to live to fight another day to reach long-term goals.”
Brandon Evans, Lifehack Labs
3. Visualize the Goals.
“I think it is important to put your long-term goals on a big whiteboard so everyone in the office can see them. For remote employees, make sure you put them on a digital dashboard where they can’t miss them. Also, in each company meeting – monthly preferably – measure your results year-to-date against the stated goals.”
Paul Ruderman, Updatezen
4. Work Backwards.
“Write down your goals and know what you want the company to be. Then work backwards from that and see what changed from each state. Also, talk about your goals frequently so that your employees are constantly focused on them.”
Preet Anand, Bluelight
5. Set Expectations.
“The best way to execute and manage a long term goal starts with setting up the right expectations from the beginning. The leader in charge of the goal should make sure that they effectively communicate the long-term goals to the team, and also break the goals down into smaller milestones so the team does not get side tracked. A tool that we use at AskforTask for managing goals (both short term and long term) is Asana, which allows the department head to set and assign right milestones to the right team member.”
Muneeb Mushtaq, AskforTask
6. Clear and Achievable Goals.
“To achieve long term goals they have to be clear and achievable. It is equally important that the team which has been put in place to implement these goals has the motivation, and the skill set to stay focused on the goals until they are achieved.”
Khuram Jehanzeb, Veelist
“Make all goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely).”
Ian Naylor, App Institute
8. Select the Right Team.
“You have to be very careful with your initial team selection. Remember that they are your biggest asset. If you want to achieve long-term goals, you have to make sure that you have a lon- lasting team. Which means you should also evaluate your employees’ personality as much as you evaluate their experience and background.”
John Kagit, Socialeyes
“Always stay totally focused on each goal without diversion. In the early days of our startup, there were a huge amount of tasks which build up causing each employee or founder to head off in different directions. With total focus on each task, without diversion, productivity goes through the roof. Without this focus, tasks are rarely completed to the best of the teams ability and sometimes not completed at all.”
Robert Sturt, Network Union
10. Stick to Your Strategy.
“To achieve ambitious long-term goals, a start-up must have a strong and clear vision, and channel it into a clearly defined strategy.This should be enabled by the team’s quality and commitment to make it happen. It is therefore critical to have a clear understanding of the target and the path to get there, as well as the leadership required to steer quality teams through the journey, and adapt to unforeseen changes when required.”
Pascal Nizri, Chekk
Philip Acuña is a journalist and PR strategist based in Medellin, Colombia. He has previously worked for organizations including the California Immigrant Policy Center and Colombia Reports.