Planning For Success: Setting the Right Values and Goals for Your Startup

Elevate Perspective

Planning For Success: Setting the Right Values and Goals for Your Startup 


As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to start thinking about how you can make the most of the remaining days and set yourself up for a successful new year. If you’re a startup leader, that means taking stock of where you are and where you want to be and then putting together a plan to get there.   

Part of that planning process should involve setting values and goals for your company. Your values will guide everything you do—from the way you treat your employees to the way you serve your customers. And your goals will keep you focused on what’s important and help you measure your progress. 

Why Startups Should Care About Core Values 

Before diving into goals, let’s take a step back and talk about values. Core values are the guiding principles of your company—the things that you believe in and that shape the way you do business. They’re not just something you put on a poster to look good; they should be reflected in everything you do; from the way you hire and train employees to the products or services you offer. 

We spoke with Joe Muldoon, CEO of medtech company FAST BioMedical, about setting values and goals as a startup leader. With over 35 years of experience in both technology startups and publicly traded companies, Muldoon has served as a board advisor, investor and CEO for several high-growth entrepreneurial companies. According to Muldoon, setting business goals begins with establishing the right values. 

“Without the appropriate values, it’s difficult to get the right results the right way. When you do the right things in the wrong way, it’s not sustainable,” he said. “For example, let’s say a software company has a sales goal. There’s a salesperson who hits their sales goals but isn’t a good team player, is toxic, and people don’t like nor get better working with them. Are you happy with that? Not really, because it’s not sustainable. You won’t be able to build a culture that can achieve goals repeatedly. That’s why we focus on values first.” 

Establishing the right values can make a big impact on recruiting talent. When job seekers see that your company’s values align with their own, they’re more likely to apply for a position. And once they’re hired, they’ll be more engaged and motivated to do their best work.   

“We use values to articulate the rules for how we do things as a company. Setting the right values will attract and retain the talent with the highest likelihood of high performance and retention. At FAST BioMedical, I want to create a magnetic environment where great people leave great jobs to work here—and a lot of that is from the right culture and values. People understand right vs. wrong. Well-articulated values help us make right vs. right decisions” 

Core Values for Your Company: An Overview

There’s no single formula for choosing the right values for your company. But there are a few things to keep in mind as you brainstorm: 

  • Keep it simple. You don’t need a long list of values; a few key principles will do. 
  • Make sure they’re authentic. Your values should be reflective of who you are as a company and what you stand for—not what you think people want to hear. 
  • Be specific. Vague values like “respect” or “integrity” are difficult to put into practice absent additional detail on how you are thinking about living them. Choose values that are specific enough to be actionable.  
  • Make them unique. Your values should be unique to your company. They should reflect your company’s culture and the things that make you different from your competitors. 

For more tips on setting core values, check out these resources: 

Defining Your Company’s Goals 

Once you’ve established your core values, it’s time to turn your attention to setting company goals. This can be a difficult process, especially if you’re a startup leader with big ambitions but limited resources.  

Muldoon offers the following tips for setting goals: 

  • Just get started. Write something down, go have a conversation with someone. Just get moving and you’ll figure it out. One idea is to write down the five most important things to accomplish in the next year that will improve the likelihood of survivability of your company, and then position it to excel. 
  • Simplify your focus by identifying a few key priorities. When it comes to goals, a startup leader’s kryptonite is trying to set too many. When everything is important, nothing is. While you might want to accomplish 500 things in a year, it’s best to hone a laser focus on the most impactful five goals. 
  • Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Goals need to be so specific that there is no question of whether or not they were achieved. 
  • Get other people involved who can help you shape what you are trying to achieve. That may just mean validating that what you are doing is right. Many startup leaders make the mistake of not having the right people around them—or not using people effectively as resources. They think they have it all figured out. But you know what? None of us have figured it out. We all benefit from talking to others. 
  • Check in on goals regularly. Every month, we have a staff meeting where the first topic is where are we on our goals? We discuss each objective in detail, whether we are on track or not. 
Looking Ahead 

Creating a company culture and setting goals are two essential steps in growing a successful startup. While establishing values and goals may seem daunting, the process can be simplified by following some key tips. By taking the time to thoughtfully define your company’s core values and priorities, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your business goals. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how Elevate Ventures can help your startup grow,
reach out to one of our EIRs! 
Additional Resources: