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How to Measure Traction for Tough Business Goals


How to Measure Traction for Tough Business Goals

How do you know that you are on track for large aggressive goals? This article from Joy Fairbanks will help you measure traction on tough goals.

Founders, if you are asked to set 2-3 milestones for your startup within a 6-12 month timeframe, what would they be?  Customer targets?  Revenue levels?  Geographic expansion?  Capital raise?  How would you know if you are on track on a monthly or weekly basis?  Would you use the same targets allocated in smaller achievable chunks?  If you do, would these mini-targets tell you if you are on track for the vision you have at 12, 24, or 36 months?

Meaningful milestones and performance metrics reflect what you are trying to understand about a specific aspect of your business model within a defined time frame.  They are most useful when serving as actionable pieces of information.  A typical startup makes a lot of trade-off decisions:  offering more features for a product versus investing more in marketing the product, selecting one marketing channel versus another, targeting one customer segment versus another, etc.  Startups are always prioritizing feedback from one set of stakeholders versus another.  It can be challenging to evaluate a series of short-term decisions in the context of long-term objectives.  There can be too little or too much distracting data.

Consider the following planning framework for small decisions to serve as aligned, iterative experiments to validate your strategy to fulfill your larger vision for your startup.

Mission.  Articulate what you are trying to achieve as a company.  For example, an electric vehicle (EV) company’s vision could be to make their clean vehicles a viable choice for every budget.  A maternal health platform’s vision could be to allow all mothers-to-be access to the necessary information and health resources to reduce maternal mortality rates.

Rationale.  Why is your mission important?  Climate impact and clean air imperatives?  Unacceptable maternal morbidity rates?  What are your company values?

Vision.  What does success look like?  The EV company’s vision could be to address 20% of the non-EV market currently serving specific customer tiers.  The maternal health company’s vision could be to halve the maternal morbidity rate by onboarding 50% of all Medicaid patients expecting babies.

Strategy.  What is your plan to get there?  Some businesses such as Warby Parker achieve their mission of serving certain customers (those unable to afford the typical cost of eyewear) by generating a surplus from other customers (those able and willing to buy new eyewear).

Key points include:

  • Addressing complications
  • What to prioritize

  • Key initiatives

Read the full article, Measuring Traction for Tough Goals, on