How Growth-Stage Companies Set Their Plans and Goals

With the start of the year, many companies spend time doing annual planning, both from a strategic and operational standpoint. We asked some of our Alumni and Apprentice companies how they went about this process and this is what they told us.


[About 20%] of our clients [contribute] about 80% of our revenue. Our major goals for the upcoming year revolve around two things: 1. Learn from the top 20%, build a moat around the clients, and find way to increase and strengthen those relationships. 2. Reassess our bottom 80% and strategize on how to best reactivate and grow that clientele base. The solutions to those two goals will allow us to rebuild and restructure our core business model by mid year. Our second half of the year will then consist of going after purely new business.

We are also having the Great Game of Business embedded into the company and plan to be in full force with it by the end of February. We will be teaching financial literacy, and using the GGOB to develop new non-financial metrics within our design department and production department.


During our company offsite in the fall of 2015 we had a full session on goal review and planning. We began by writing up each of our 2015 goals on the whiteboard and reviewing our 2015 progress and achievement towards those goals. After this we came up with company-wide big picture goals for each of the key areas of the business: Sales, Staffing, Productivity, Culture, etc. 

After the company goals were identified, over the next few weeks, we split up the teams (Sales, PM, and Development) and had each team come up with 5 team goals that would feed into the company goals. Once each of these team goals was completed, a team representative presented [their] team's goals during the company's all-hands meeting in December. 

We now review the company goals on each Monday meeting and review the team goals in each team's weekly check-in. Throughout the fall the CEO also did 1-on-1s with each employee and together came up with 1-2 personal goals for 2016.


In 2016 we will be enlisting help from independent professionals in finances, operations and technology. The goal is to develop a plan that will increase revenue and margins for a path to sustainable growth and an understanding on how to accommodate for growth. 


Our company starts strategic planning in the beginning of Q4 of the prior year. This year, in advance of our planning sessions, we surveyed our entire team about our organizational health. We had an open forum lunch meeting to discuss their answers to two questions: 1) Our most pressing issue and 2) Aspiration for the new year.

Our leadership team works together on setting goals for the four main areas of the house: Operations, Marketing and Sales, Finances and Talent Management. Each year I present a Year In Review presentation at our holiday lunch and use the new plan to get the team excited about the upcoming year. Our leadership team meets weekly to assess how we are doing and to work on solving items on our issues list.


Our leadership team is working on the high level elements. We are leaning on the entire company to identify their own plans and goals. We had the entire team together a few weeks ago to discuss 2016. We focused on how each of us plans to get smarter and become better at our individual roles.


We have two results we are aiming for - they are on the board, discussed when analyzing week-to-week/month-to-month/quarter-to-quarter, and talked about in team meetings, etc. But they are not there for any purpose except to set the finish line. Our more important metrics are those of effort. We measure effort. I'll share a team-wide Google Slides and Google Sheet that guides this Schlep system to "measure effort."