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6 Tips for Setting Targets in Your Startup

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by Startacus Admin

Sitting down to set out goals and targets for your startup can feel like hard work that gets in the way of actual work.

Setting targets for the road to your ultimate goal, however, is one important way to ensure you actually make it to that goal. Clear targets let your team know exactly what they are aiming for, and well-thought-out parameters for those targets will make it all the easier for you all to hit them. Set two startups side by side and give them the same product and resources, and you’ll soon see that the successful startup is the one that properly sets its targets.

setting targets for your startup


Setting goals and then keeping them secret isn’t going to help anyone. Whether it’s a shared internal website or simply on a whiteboard in the office, display your startup’s targets for all the team to see, along with to what degree you have progressed with them. This can go for individual or sub-team targets too. Displaying each team member’s targets and progress towards them will give them extra incentive to hit those targets.

Speaking of incentive, what incentives will you offer your team for reaching their targets? Expensive or outright monetary incentives are impractical for a startup, but there are other things you can do to make hitting these targets less of a chore and turn them into something fun that people want to hit for more than the promise that doing so will eventually lead to success.


As well as making your goals visible to everyone, and making the what clear, it is also important to make the why clear. Okay, the goal is to get 1000 new Twitter followers within the next month, but why? Is there a reason for this beyond wanting that little number to look better? You need to be clear in the reasons for the targets you set, for yourself and for your team; not least of all because the clearer the reason the more any unreasonable or unnecessary targets will show themselves.

setting targets for your startup


Your targets aren’t there just for the sake of it, and if your team isn’t hitting them it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to try harder. It could be that your targets need rethinking. Especially at the start, it might be hard to gauge what is a reasonable and fair target, and what is simply unattainable. If it’s a sales target, have you taken into account the peaks and troughs every business has at different times of the year? Have you been going long enough to know when those are likely to come? Having to move the goalposts doesn’t equal failure, but being hard-headed about it and refusing to revisit your targets might.

One step at a time

A sprinter doesn’t stand at the starting blocks with the sole intention of reaching the finish line first. He/she knows that is the desired outcome, but also that this will only be the outcome if they do things right along the way. What pace will they take for the first portion of the race? Where will they kick it up a gear and start to pass other runners? At what point do they unleash every last bit of energy they have to ensure they reach the finish line first? Equally, with your startup, you can’t set the goal of being the most successful X this time next year and be selling millions of Y from a beach in the Caribbean. How are you going to be that successful? Your small targets throughout the year, the month, even the week, are what will make the difference between reaching that ultimate goal and stumbling at the first, mismatch-analogy’d hurdle. Alternatively, if you are going to stick with a single goal, it needs to be very clear and understandable, with easily identifiable roads to it.

setting targets for your startup

Listen to feedback

Your team is striving to attain the targets that you have set them. If they are saying that, actually, it might be slightly unreasonable to expect them to bring in 10 million new customers this month, it’s probably worth listening to them. They are the ones who are out there doing…whatever it is you have them doing; if they aren’t convinced of the targets set them, you’re unlikely to find a better means of measuring the targets’ attainability and likelihood of success. Ensuring that the individuals associated with each target are involved in the setting of said targets is not only a good idea from the same point of view of attainability, but also makes the targets seem like things that are on their side rather than things that are out to get them.


As mentioned, as a startup you may not be in a position yet to gauge whether a target is reasonable or even necessary. In this case, it is good to have a network of professionals, perhaps mentors or consultants, who can come in and help you identify what your goals and targets should be. This outside perspective will come from experience and could prove an invaluable jump start for your team, saving you a lot of time setting the wrong targets.

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Published on: 22nd June 2016

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