The Guide: Setting Business Goals

Not sure how to translate those big startup business goals into actionable steps? Try one of these business goals templates to help you get your startup where you want it to be.

July 7th, 2017   |    By: Emma McGowan    |    Tags: Strategy

So, you’re launching a startup. Big goals obviously aren’t an issue. You want 10x customers! You want to 4x your retention rate! You want to be the next Facebook or the Airbnb of X!

The big stuff is what entrepreneurs are  good at. But it’s in breaking those big steps down into smaller, actionable ones where we tend to trip up. I’d even go as far as to say that the inability to break big goals down into smaller business goals and then into short-term objectives is one of the main reasons that the majority of startups fail.

Sound familiar?

So, how do you go from big goal to smaller goal to actionable steps you can start taking right now? The process is going to be different for every startup, of course, but here’s how to start.

Name the big goal.

business goals

First things first: You have to name that big goal. You can’t work toward it if it’s not clear what it is, right? So take the time to really figure out what your big goal — or goals — is. Make sure that it’s something that simultaneously encompasses a pie-in-the-sky value and is tangible. (So, for example, “solving sexism” might be a little out of reach but “changing the gender culture of our industry” could be more realistic.”

When you’re naming your big startup business goal, make sure to include your whole team in the process. It’s a good way to make sure that you’re all on the same page moving forward.

Work backwards.

business goals

Once you’ve named your goal, it’s time to work backwards in order to create the steps you need to take in order to get there. A great question to ask is: “What are the five most important things that need to happen right before I meet that big goal?” Once you have those five, come up with the five most important things you need for each of them and continue on until you have actions you can take right now. It might take a while, but it’s a great way to make that big, big goal feel like it’s actually reachable.

Examples of Business Goals templates you can follow:

Working backwards is  just one strategy you can employ to meet your startup business goals. If this is going to work, you have to pick a structure that works for you.

With that in mind, we’ll be sharing user-friendly templates that you can use over the next few days. Starting on Monday, we’ll be sharing three startup business goal templates: Hierarchy of Goals, Visual Mapping, and S.M.A.R.T. Thinking. Be sure to check back on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for links to each post!

About the Author

Emma McGowan

Emma McGowan is a full time blogger and digital nomad has been writing about startups, living with startup people, and basically breathing startups for the past five years. Emma is a regular contributor to Bustle,, KillerStartups, and MiKandi. Her byline can also be found on Mashable, The Daily Dot's The Kernel, Mic, The Bold Italic, as well as a number of startup blogs.

Follow her on Twitter @MissEmmaMcG.

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