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Setting business goals: the ultimate guide

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Setting business goals introduction

Goals are crucial for team performance and satisfaction at work. They’re also the building blocks for your business’ vision, and help your team translate that vision into reality. But setting the right goals is a fine art, and if you’re not careful it can cause more harm than good.

To help you get it right, here’s a curated list of goal setting resources, covering:

Why goal setting is important

Goals spark actions in your team, and these actions lead your company in a certain direction. They do this by encouraging:

Focus and momentum


Team motivation

The first step in goal setting: building your strategy

Before you set your goals it’s crucial to have a well-defined vision. Otherwise, any goals you set may be counterproductive or waste your team’s efforts. On top of this, you also have to inspire your team with your vision and get everyone aligned. Here’s how:

Analysis and reflection

SWOT analysis


Using data to validate your strategy

Finding focus and direction

Inspiring your team

The different goal setting strategies and schools of thought

It’s hard to keep up with the latest goal setting trends and acronyms, so we’ve made a list of the most common ones. Don’t think of them as “rival” approaches though as many of them are based on the same principles and work together. For example, you could use OKRs to set your goals but use KPIs to measure your progress.

Management By Objectives (MBO)

Introduction to MBO

In-depth reading on MBO

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

Introduction to OKRs

In depth-reading on OKRs

OKR examples

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Big book of KPIs

Introduction to KPIs

In-depth reading on KPIs

KPI examples

SMART goals

Introduction to SMART goals

In-depth reading on SMART goals

SMART goal examples

HARD goals

Introduction to HARD goals

In-depth reading on HARD goals

The Balanced Scorecard

Introduction to The Balanced Scorecard

In-depth reading on The Balanced Scorecard


Introduction to Benchmarking

In-depth reading on benchmarking

North Star Metrics (NSMs)

Introduction to North Star Metrics

In depth reading on North Star Metrics

BHAGs, Stretch Goals, and Moonshots

The different types of goals

Once you’ve chosen your approach, we find these the most helpful ways to categorize your goals:

Short term vs long term goals

Completion goals vs metric-based measurable goals

Organizational goals vs team goals

Goal examples

The most effective goals are generally bespoke to your company, but here are some examples for inspiration:

OKR examples

KPI examples

SMART goal examples

Goal setting case studies

General goal setting tips

Ways goal setting can go wrong

A carefully considered goal is a thing of beauty. But a poorly chosen goal can turn ugly, from leading teams in the wrong direction to damaging morale. Here are some pitfalls and downsides to consider:

Goal setting templates, exercises, and cheat sheets

These resources will help you structure your brainstorming sessions, get goals on paper, and involve your team in the process:

SMART goals



Next steps after setting your goals

Setting your goals is only part of the challenge. You also need to communicate your goals to your team, come up with systems for achieving your goals, and find a way to measure progress. And finally, you’ll need to review your goals regularly to make sure they’re still relevant and aligned with your strategy. Here are some resources that will help with these steps:

Communicating goals to current and future employees

Marketing dashboard example screenshot

Tracking and measuring your goals

Reviewing your goals

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