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Startups without a clear vision often exhaust their resources before they are profitable. Without clear goals in mind, it’s easy to get caught up in irrelevant tasks or spend a lot of time hiring people who don’t support the company’s vision. The solution is to develop core goals that are directly related to your company’s vision and have every decision you make extend from those goals.
A common trap new businesses face is the desire to grow their services or products quickly. However, this can lead them to stray from your company’s unique selling point, thus depleting your resources and lowering the quality of your offering. A company that laser-focuses on its vision is like a sniper: it can project into the future with a singular focus on the target. In contrast, a company that has no specific goals is like firing a shotgun into the air: all you get is an initial burst of noise and excitement, and you scatter in multiple directions without a specific brand.
Setting tangible, actionable goals is one way to ensure you stay on target and mitigate the loss of valuable resources. Here are some reasons why you should use core goals to optimize your business for long-term growth.
Related: How Establishing Core Values Drives Success
Being a determined traveler who knows his destination
In 2015, a startup focused on delivering innovative products through a public vote, called Quirky, sold for just $4.7 million, after raising $169.5 million in funding just a few years earlier.
What led to the demise of this startup may resonate with many ambitious entrepreneurs. Their lack of focus and iteration on their first initial products led to a decline in quality and a poor match between product and market. It did not have a succinct company brand message, which led to loss of authority and credibility.
Every service or product you build must have a direct relationship to your vision. For a multinational corporation franchisee like McDonald’s, for example, whose vision relates to “creating delicious moments of well-being for all,” can you imagine if the company didn’t take the time to perfect its famous Big Mac recipe? Arguably, they would not have a successful core product that people associate their brand with today.
Having a central vision or goal is your path to success. When you know what you want, your path forward is clear. Also, when a startup has a solid foundation, it can operate with confidence. If you stray from the right path, you will always have a stable backup.
Related: Does Your Company’s Mission Measure Up?
Identify your uniqueness factor and stick to it
When entrepreneurs are engrossed in the day-to-day activities of the business, they can lose sight of what is responsible for the underlying success. Ask yourself why your company is doing well compared to others that provide similar services.
It is important not to be complacent about your success or take it for granted. Introspection, or looking back, is the secret to moving forward. Finding the specific attributes and qualities that shape your company’s personality and philosophy is key to better understanding your company’s vision. Not only does this help you find the key points to build on, but it also helps you know what to look for when trying to expand your team.
For example, the core principle of Starbucks is to put people first. This is consistent no matter which store you go to. Their employees are dedicated to providing that personal touch, whether it’s asking how your day was or asking for your name on each mug. Paying $4 for a cup of coffee at a different store might elicit a different response, but if it’s Starbucks, we think the cost is justifiable for the experience. This factor is what makes Starbucks unique, and it’s how it remains as profitable as it is today.
Build a team with shared core values
Hiring and training is a time-consuming and exhausting process. While finding the right talent in the form of experience and intelligence is crucial to a startup’s success, a more important quality is often overlooked: chemistry. It is important to identify if the hiring is aligned with the vision of your startup and if it is committed to the long-term success of the company.
Remember, the average turnover rate for technology companies is less than two years. Securing the types of hires that feel aligned with the company’s vision predicts retention. Training takes time and consumes resources. A lot of energy can be wasted recruiting and training new hires who meet the criteria on paper but don’t share the company’s mindset, personality, work ethic, or behavior.
I’ve hired people who were highly competent for the task at hand but didn’t have the same vision or work ethic as me. It only led to tension and disagreements, which stifled progress and morale. Instead of wasting valuable hours later in the process trying to recalibrate hires to match company values, try to identify the fit early on.
Related: How to Hire Someone Aligned with the Company’s Mission
Startups are risky and the margin for success is slim. Highly intelligent and capable teams are prevalent in many startups, but personality mismatches can ultimately lead to infrastructure collapse. On the other hand, a team that shares a common philosophy can usually navigate the turmoil in a startup’s life cycle.
When you hire people who embody the company’s values and are determined to help the company achieve its vision, you’re likely building a stronger foundation and a community of leaders who can help step up the process. Always have clear from the beginning the objectives of the company and the culture that you want to promote. This can guide employees to produce higher quality results as they always have a clear direction of where they are going.
From the beginning, entrepreneurs must find their uniqueness factor and use those core principles as the pillars of the company. The most successful companies on the planet, like Apple, have developed precise goals around their vision and mission. That is, provide the best technology and user experience. Apple has never strayed from providing the best customer service to complement its cutting-edge technology.
Developing a set of core goals can help align the team on the company’s unique selling point. Building your team around these goals will help position your company to be more productive in reaching your goals and achieving undisputed success.