I failed to set a clear goal in one of my early startups. This stalled the progression and made me quit the venture in an early stage. In one of my later companies we had clear goals in the start and achieved big successes, but in the growth phase we were too busy with daily problems and forgot about the ‘big picture’.

I believe that it is essential for every entrepreneur and startup team to have a clear idea about the big dreams, long term goals and shorter term activities that match with these. During my activities as a startup coach I therefor recommend the steps below.

Step 1: Personal goals
Do not see your startup as a job that is independent of the rest of your life. You’ll be more successful when your startup contributes to your personal life, and the other way around too. With more than 50 entrepreneurs I have discussed the results of this questionnaire by Brian Tracy.
Take about two hours to fill it in. Start with the questions at the beginning, proceed, do not read the end yet. You might not have an answer for all of the questions, but you will end with goals for the different aspects of your life. If you like this method, you can advance with the Word template through this link. http://www.groosman.info/#!coaching/c1tou

Step 2: Your startup dream
While restructuring of one of my companies, I used the method I will discuss here. For my new startup this was the starting point.
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If this is the first time you work with these steps, I recommend you start with your (startup’s) values and core competencies. These will give body to the mission and big goals of your startup. To list the values of you and your startup, use the steps below. (Click for source.) http://www.deliveringhappiness.com/core-values/

Now you can continue with defining your mission. A mission has to be big and can be broad, yet specific enough to be applicable.

How about Amazon’s mission? “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online”.

Nike’s mission is broader than just shoes and clothes: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world” and Harvard University is pretty ambitious too: “The advancement of all good literature, arts, and sciences; the advancement and education of youth in all manner of good literature, arts, and sciences; and all other necessary provisions that may conduce to the education of the … youth of this country…”. If you think that’s too much, maybe Coca Cola’s focus on “happiness” is better for you?

Then the next step. I love to work with the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), because it leads to visionary goals that are more strategic and emotionally compelling (from the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary). A BHAG is a very long term goal (20 years for example) and should be 80% impossible, to keep enough motivation left to aim for the 20% success change.

Amazon wants “every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds”, Motorola used a quantified BHAG; “sell 100,000 TVs at $179.95” and Nokia Siemens Networks wanted to connect the world; “Connect 5 billion people by 2015”. I do not like one of Hewlett-Packard’s assumed goals: “Be one of the best managed corporations in the world”, as I think it is vague and not very inspiring.

Very, very important is the use of visuals for supporting your mission, BHAG and more. Words are boring (it’s almost a miracle you’re reading this), pictures trigger imagination and inspire. For example, the picture of the stadium in the opening of this blog post was used to show the big hairy audacious goal of 50.000 customers for a company I consulted: the stadium has about this number of seats and is located in the same city as the company. We were already dreaming about the company party with all the customers in that stadium.

After defining all this, you have to incorporate it in your business model. Be sure that your startup’s structures contribute to your mission and goal, attract employees and customers (!) that fit with your values, invest in core competences and translate all this into a strategy.
Before we move on to the Rockefeller habits, take look at the suggestions in the picture below.
Step 3: Rockefeller habits
Implement the Rockefeller habits that Verne Harnish elaborates on in his great book.
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I am planning to write a separate blog about these great (and crucial!) habits, but for now I will do with an external link. Please read!

Step 4: Be productive
Working on your goals requires discipline and dedication. One of my presentations that has to do with this topic of productivity can be found on my Slideshare account. http://www.slideshare.net/benno_groosman/productivity-and-worklife-balance-for-entrepreneurs
In case you want to take the next step in becoming productive I recommend to read Brian Tracy’s “Eat that Frog”. I am not affiliated with Tracy, but I do like his work in this field.