Setting goals – part 1

Setting goals – part 1

I’ve never been a goal-setter. That’s one of the things Ted (the other owner of Moraware) and I have in common, but lately both of us are trying to figure out and articulate the goals for our company.

going for goal by Thomas Leth-OlsenIn order to get here, first we wrote down our company values and guiding principles. Goals are harder, though. One of our values is incremental improvement, and we need goals to define what is actually “better“.

But how do you write down goals that are specific, while not being just plain silly? If you set lofty goals and then don’t meet them, are you giving your employees the right motivation?

So, maybe it’s worth thinking about the last time we had single-minded focus on a goal.

The history of our last goal

In Jim Collins’ Good to Great he talks about having a BHAG – a big hairy audacious goal. We used to have a goal like that, in 2008: “DON’T DIE.

After the housing crash, the entire countertop industry was literally decimated. We got bank notices from several of our former customers as they went out of business. Most of the countertop fabricators that survived were substantially smaller. We estimated that the fabricators who stayed in business lost 75% of their revenue from the peak of the market. Scary times.

But, the unintended consequence was having a goal. That goal forced us to seriously re-consider key elements of our business and focus relentlessly on survival. In late 2008, we introduced our first subscription-only product. And within a few months (as customers wanted to upgrade to more features) we realized that all of our products would move to subscription in a short time.

Within a year, we understood the new trend of our business, and by 2011, we were confident that we overcame the worst. In 2012, we released CounterGo, our second product which put us in better shape than ever before. Not only did we achieve “Don’t Die“, but we actually surpassed it.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that having a new business model meant that we’d ultimately need to develop completely new skills. We’ve spent more on server infrastructure than I could have ever imagined, and we have a different kind of employee working with customers.

For about the last year or two, we haven’t re-evaluated our goals. Although we’re all working hard, we haven’t clearly defined what success looks like in the next year, or even five years. In order to stay motivated and keep improving, we need to come up with a new set of milestones. More on that, coming soon in part 2.

Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you.

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