Home Professionalisms Startup Founders Should Focus on Managing Expectations Before Managing KPIs

Startup Founders Should Focus on Managing Expectations Before Managing KPIs


by Manni Sidhu, Co-founder and CEO of Coleegs, and William Gilchrist, Founder and CEO of Konsyg

A new challenge has bloomed for founders and managers in the Covid-19 era –how do they set key performance indicators (KPIs) for the years ahead?

The start of a new quarter prompts common questions from start-up founder’s and executives across Asia: What are our revenues and sales targets? How do we achieve our intended goals?

These same decision makers are now being forced to answer an alternative set of questions: Which staff do we retain, furlough, or layoff? Will our funding dry out? How much further will our revenues drop?

We identified three fundamental areas where founders need to direct their attention over the coming 12 months, in order to set the stage for startup KPIs to create positive outcomes.

Retention of Staff.

A recent report from research and policy advisory organisation ‘Start-up Genome’ suggests the COVID crises has forced nearly three quarters of global start-ups to layoff or furlough up to 60% of their staff.

Compounded with recent events – start-ups top priority should be staff retention, not sales.

Employees are the foundation of any firm – the first KPI any company should focus on over the next 12 months is to bring stability back into the firm, and reduce annual turnover. In order to develop and execute KPIs across businesses functions – a stable, motivated crew must be at the center of operations.

Demonstrate inclusive leadership, and include the entire team in the decision-making process – not just top down. Having all staff from top to bottom involved in decision-making fosters team spirit, and motivates employees to be part of the turnaround.

Don’t cut costs just at the bottom level – reduce everyone’s salary by an equal percentage. Practices like this demonstrates how founders can ‘lead from the front’ and become an attractive place to work.

Remember- there is one question that employees will have the right to reserve judgment on – ‘How did you handle the COVID crisis?’

Retention of Clients.

Founders should focus on stability. The same report from research and policy advisory organisation ‘Start-up Genome’ says that globally, 65 per cent of start-ups have less than six months of runway – most of whom will face a double dip recession, with sales dropping up to 80% depending on the vertical.

In order to build KPIs on future growth, take this time to understand your clientele and the problems they face. Identify trends that may become the norm in years to come – then revisit your business model, and ask yourself – What necessary changes need to be made internally in order to adapt to our target audience?

Whether these changes are small, large or none at all – taking time to understand your target audience’s future needs could be the difference between solid a foundation for future growth and building sales, or a continued decline into inevitable failure.

Build KPIs Bottom Up, Not Top Down.

Businesses could have anywhere from half a dozen to hundreds of KPIs. We advise founders to get back to the basics, and focus on the following four functions:  Sales, Marketing, Management, and Finance.

Start small and divide and conquer. Similar to any task, focus on a handful of key KPIs you know you can achieve, and use that achievement to propel yourself forward for the more difficult tasks

Most KPIs are aspirational – do not break your back trying to hit every single expectation – focus on what you can control.

Lastly, think outside the box. This is a new era – factors like digitization and work from home have been placed at the front of the queue of any firm. Take the time to establish new measures of performance.

Always remember – the innovators who identify and double down on new trends will prevail.


Manni Sidhu is a serial entrepreneur who has lived and worked in 7 countries across 4 continents. Manni started his career in Food and Beverage before moving to Asia, where he worked in Consulting, Fintech, and in to his current role as Co-founder and CEO of Coleegs – a PR company that specialises in Media Outreach, helping business get published into top tier publications around the globe.

William Gilchrist began his career within the corporate sector of Shanghai as a Media Relations Manager. Will gradually progressed to a role as Regional New Business Sales Manager for Google, Asia-Pacific, before venturing into his current role as Founder and CEO of Konsyg – providing businesses around the globe a Top-Tier on-demand sales.


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