4 Weeks of Goals at an Early-Stage Startup

goal-setting

About me

I’m a Partner Manager at Builtfirst where I manage relationships with SaaS partners like HubSpot, Zendesk, Brex & more. I participated in (& organized a meetup for) a startup apprenticeship program, Praxis.

You can find me at a park playing sports, a concert, or wine tasting.

LinkedIn

At an early-stage startup, workflows, goals and metrics are typically created for a new position as it gets filled. 

I worked directly with the CEO to set goals, working top-down from the overall company goals to what was measurable and achievable for me. I imagine this could be stressful for some, but it was gratifying to be part of striking a balance between the company’s needs and what I can achieve personally. 

What also seems to be commonplace with startups now is starting out part-time. In my case, this made sense due to other commitments.

That meant I had only half the time (and half the focus) to accomplish quantifiable results as someone whose only focus is the company they’re working for. If I enjoyed the work and performed well, the plan was to shift into full-time. 

Due to the fluid nature of my work, creating standardized goals proved difficult to track and achieve. My OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) or metrics can (and did) adjust on a weekly basis. Additionally, some of the metrics proved unachievably high at the beginning. This is common in sales and recruitment as it takes time to build up a pipeline.

In my case, I was recruiting and onboarding candidates onto a marketplace for independent contractors. Ultimately, there were three important goals that my metrics were built around:

  • Moving candidates through the pipeline
  • Identifying where candidates got stuck in onboarding
  • Optimizing the process and adjusting goals accordingly

Initial Goals

My metrics started simple and evolved over time. For Week 1, we decided on the following goals:

  • 30 calls & emails
  • 15 video interviews
  • 5 candidates fully onboarded

Week 1’s results:

  • 60 calls & emails
  • 1 video interview
  • 0 candidates fully onboarded

One of these metrics was too easy, the others were ambitious. Interviews and full onboards were impossible to start— they were meant to be focused on the long-term. So rather than reduce the number of interviews and sign-ups easier, my outreach increased to allow room to grow over time.

Week 2 – Texts

I started texting candidates as well, so my outreach metric became “touches”: the sum of calls, emails, and texts. Since I accomplished 60 touches the previous week, that became the new goal.

Week 2’s goals:

  • 60 touches/week
  • 15 interviews/week
  • 5 candidates fully onboarded

Week 2’s results:

  • 100 touches
  • 12 interviews
  • 0 candidates fully onboarded

The reason I was able to accomplish 12 interviews is because we made a drastic workflow shift from a virtual interview platform called VideoAsk to phone interviews. This allowed me to be more proactive about interviewing candidates and move them to the next step.

Week 3 – Expanding Metrics

As candidates moved through the onboarding process, some were getting stuck in the process between interviews and becoming fully onboarded. 

These steps were:

  • Creating an account on our website with documentation
  • Video audition: This is a 20-minute video where candidates record a display of their skills and processes and is our primary screening method

So to better show progress and start measuring where candidates got stuck, we started tracking how many candidates completed each step as well. My goals for Week 3 were:

  • 100 touches
  • 15 interviews
  • 5 accounts created
  • 5 video auditions
  • 5 fully onboarded

Week 3’s results:

  • 106 touches
  • 6 interviews
  • 2 accounts created
  • 1 video audition
  • 0 fully onboard

Again, it wasn’t a problem that I wasn’t meeting metrics, as it takes time to scale results. What’s important is that I was in contact with enough candidates by meeting my goal of touches, which I did.

Week 4 – Onboarding Optimizations/Changes

We made a major adjustment to our onboarding process in week 4, and completely changed the interview metric.

Rather than individual interviews that take a lot of time, we started hosting group onboarding calls to efficiently answer common questions about the process and establish credibility where candidates could see they’re not the only ones interested in working with us. 

So instead of interviews, the goals shifted to the number of candidates attending weekly onboarding calls. Everything else was unchanged:

  • 100 touches
  • 15 onboarding call attendees
  • 5 accounts created
  • 5 video auditions
  • 5 fully onboarded

I accomplished:

  • 93 touches
  • 10 onboarding call attendees
  • 3 accounts created
  • 1 video audition
  • 1 fully onboarded

The onboarding calls were successful and at scale, the goal of 15 will easily double and help get candidates through the pipeline faster. I already have many candidates scheduled for the call next week!

That being said, some candidates may prefer 1:1 conversations, so the interview metric may return. Refer to my workflow discussion for more on that.

Conclusions on Goals

For myself and the company, these goals were straightforward enough to be insightful to our progress as a company yet adaptable as my workflows adjusted rapidly. 

If you’re working at a startup with goals that seem too difficult, consider these goals may take time to become achievable (and maybe don’t be so hard on yourself). 

If you’ve been in your position for at least 2-3 months and your goals still don’t seem achievable, I’d start making additional considerations. If you’re fortunate as I am and have a manager that is open to suggestions, take some time to evaluate if there are better ways to mark your progress, or just try to be realistic with your boss (and/or yourself as someone hoping to make a measurable impact to the company) if the numbers are simply too difficult to achieve.

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