In a startup like Hubstaff, thousands of things need to be done, and thousands more after that. Small business leaders need to set smart business goals and hold their team accountable to achieve them. 

Part of the battle of running a successful business is spending your valuable time on things that matter. 

In this article, we will talk about how to set a business objective for your entire organization and include some real business goals examples using our metrics for success. 

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What are business goals?

The most straightforward definition of a business goal is the main reason why your business exists. What made you start the company? Answering this is one of the first and most essential steps to business growth. 

At Hubstaff, we like to set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The SMART framework is often used for setting and achieving goals. 

Of course, there are different types of business goals, and understanding them will make it easier for you to identify your true priorities and accomplish them.

Types of business goals 

Understanding the different kinds of business goals will help you set objectives and create accurate plans. Goals can be split into two main categories: short-term and long-term business goals.

Long-term goals are what you aim for your business to achieve, typically in one year or more. Short-term goals are the ones that help you get there.

1. Financial goals

For entrepreneurs, establishing financial goals is often the first course of action when creating a business plan. When it comes to finances, strategic planning can help ensure your business model is profitable and debt-free. 

This is especially true for small businesses and startups, as cash flow can fluctuate in the first few months or years. A financial business goal example is to target your profit margins and determine what margin will be the most successful for your product.  

Finances are one of the most reliable metrics to help you identify how much your business has grown over a specific period. Read our guide on business balance sheets.

2. Human resource goals

Human resource (HR) goals concern everything about your team. Human resources business goals guide your managers and business leaders, measuring progress in employee development and overall satisfaction. 

Human resource goals include improving employee satisfaction, setting development goals, and decreasing employee turnover.  

These include how large you need your team to be, the particular specializations your employees should have, and the training programs you will provide to them. Employee retention can be as necessary as customer retention. Happy employees can improve customer satisfaction and contribute to overall business success. 

3. Brand goals

The first years of a startup are crucial in establishing a unique brand identity and finding your target audience. Your products or services aren’t the only ways to attract clients and potential customers.

Hubstaff, for example, is a workforce analytics software but is known to be a company that significantly values freedom as a core value at work. Considering brand goals is one way to further connect with customers through shared values and grow your business.

Brand goals include metrics like customer satisfaction, boosting customer referrals, brand loyalty, and market share. 

4. Product goals

Product goals aim to help develop your products and services, which serve as your primary business driver.  

If you are a SaaS company, an excellent example of a product goal would be having a list of features your software should have after a year or two.

The different types of business goals mentioned above can help you determine which priorities you want to go after. You can use them as a reference for adjustments and future decisions, and they can aid in creating the right strategies for accomplishing your company goals and objectives. 

How to identify, prioritize, and achieve business goals and objectives with the Theory of Constraints [Examples]

At Hubstaff, we use the Theory of Constraints for priority management to reach our goals.

The Theory of Constraints is a business priority matrix that seeks to align all tasks towards goals, eventually compounding to successfully achieve a major goal. This can only be achieved with an understanding of current problems and how to resolve them.

Once you have identified your business goals, you can begin to develop the tasks you need to accomplish them. As the graphic below shows, your tasks must correlate directly to your goals.

Use the Theory of Constraints to Align Business Goals and Daily Tasks

The key to mastering this process is identifying and completing the tasks that align with your primary goal. Below is a quick guide on identifying the correct tasks to focus on, which will help you accomplish your end goal.

Pro tip: The traditional application of the Theory of Constraints is for factories and businesses with complex dependencies. However, a simplified version can easily be applied to startups and small businesses. This business priority matrix can benefit your business considerably when executed correctly. The key to utilizing the Theory of Constraints is to identify “blockers” in your business and kill them. 

If you can do this, you can increase your business’s output and eliminate factors that aren’t contributing to reaching your goal.

Eliminate Blockers according to theory of constraints

Correctly identifying blockers is challenging.

To make things easier, we will share with you steps you should take to identify, prioritize, and accomplish your business goals.

Step 1: Define your 12-month goal

There’s a lot of advice for goal setting, this article will touch on a few points.

  1. This goal can apply to anything. Your goal can be to hire a team of seven superstars, get more leads, improve profit margins, boost revenue, increase website traffic, improve customer retention, lower stress in the workplace, or anything else that will result in business success. It’s essential that you can measure progress for these goals and that they aren’t overly ambitious. 
  2. You need to live, breathe, and believe in your goals. Manifestation is a good practice. This refers to seeing something as accurate, so your subconscious drives you to do what you need to to make it true. For example, if you believe you’re an entrepreneur, you will act like one and eventually become one. But don’t forget: you must be able to visualize the goal accurately. Set a clear mission statement and SMART goals and communicate them to your team. 
  3. Your organization needs to revisit the goal regularly, whether monthly, daily, or hourly. You need to be tied to it and put everything behind it. Drop the tasks that aren’t directly tied to achieving a goal. Everyone from your sales team to your developers should be on board with these goals. 
  4. Goals must be:
    1. Achievable = Ambition is a powerful driving force, but it works best when combined with being realistic.
    2. Desirable = You need to be sincere about wanting your goals, and willing to dedicate your time and effort to them.
    3. Believable = You must be confident that you can and will get there.

Keep these in mind at all times, and you can focus on your goals much easier.

Step 2: List your blockers

List all the obstacles currently preventing you from reaching your goal. Think of it as a brainstorming session. Although getting caught up and carried away in this step is easy, focus on listing things out. 

For this post, let’s use Hubstaff as an example. We aimed to earn $70,000 in monthly recurring revenue in 12 months. 

list your blockers

These things are top-of-mind and block you from reaching your goal.

The obstacles above are broad strokes blocking Hubstaff from hitting our goal of $70,000 MRR.

Let’s look at one of the blockers listed above: we are not converting enough trials into paying subscribers. At this point, we were converting approximately 20 percent, which is acceptable, but we can do much better. 

Step 3: Convert blockers into their opposites (90-day goals)

The next step is to take each of your obstacles and reverse them into their ideal counterparts.

So, from the example above:

  • Our obstacle: We were not converting enough trials into paying subscribers
  • Its positive version: We have a trial to paid conversion rate of 35 percent (what we’re aiming for) 

These positive statements then become your intermediate objectives. You can consider them as 90-day goals. Reaching these takes a little longer, so give yourself some time to achieve success.

Here’s what our map for Hubstaff looked like at this point (created using Xmind):

Hubstaff Mindmap

Now we’re getting somewhere.

The map will begin to clarify which areas you need to work on. Read these positive statements out loud, and you can see what needs attention in your business.

But we’re not done yet. Let’s dig deeper. 

Step 4: Uncover the 30-day projects

This is where the majority of the work will take place. It will also be where discoveries will be made, and benefits will be identified. In this step, we start to hammer out all the possibilities to solve the problem. 

In this example, the positive statement was, “We have a trial to paid conversion rate of 35 percent.”

The next step is to brainstorm the various scenarios that need to happen for the positive statements to become true.

Ask yourself, “How can I make this happen?” 

In our case, how do we get a 35 percent conversion rate vs. the 20 percent we are currently at? We could do a few things:

  • Call or Zoom with each trial user 
  • Reach out personally via email  
  • Confirm that the correct people are signing up for trials in the first place
  • Help their employees get onboarded 

Did you notice how this process naturally drags out the answers?

These become your 30-day projects. 

Step 5: Build the task list

It’s hard to lose sight of your goals when you have clear expectations in front of you. That’s where a task list comes into play. In this step, write down everything that needs to happen to accomplish each project. Consider these the action items that you’ll be working on day-to-day. 

There’s a chance that you’ll end up with too many tasks in this step, and that’s okay.

It’s valuable to document these steps so you can revisit them later. Prioritize your list and make sure the most important tasks get finished. 

How the Theory of Constraints paid off for us 

When we revisited this article, as expected, we had an entirely new set of goals and constraints based on a higher objective. 

Here’s what our goals and constraints looked like for 2016. 

Goal = 140k MRR by Dec 31, 2016 across all products:

  • Projects (Now called Hubstaff Tasks)
  • Hubstaff


  • No one is using Tasks
  • Price per client is low
    • We are only selling 22% of people on the premium features
    • Pricing is only $5
  • Don’t have a scalable system for generating leads
  • Not truly doubling down on what’s working
  • Don’t have A+ blog
  • Only 18% of trials are converting to paid users
    • Not converting enough trials because there are too many steps, it’s a confusing UI, no simple web-based timer, bad funnel emails, getting employees to agree to use it, etc.
  • The product is too “niched”
    • Lacking features like per-project budgets, invoices, attendance, daily email summary, faster integration sync, etc.
  • Top of the funnel isn’t large enough. Need to improve SEO, content marketing, advertising, sales outreach tactics, loyal audiences, etc.

Then, we took those constraints and created a more extensive system that looks like this:

2016 theory of constraints business goals map hubstaff

As we approached this new set of goals and tasks, we also looked at our process for areas to improve.

In the past, we started with channels, such as “Social Media,” and created projects for each channel. We would have projects for SEO, social, email, and so on, but we realized that we ended up creating projects simply because we had the people to do them, not because they would grow the company.

In other words, we created a lot of busy work.

Now, we don’t think about the people or channels upfront. Instead, we examine what projects would have the highest impact on the company, then we assign people to the projects.

We use our Agile project management software add-on, Hubstaff Tasks, to prioritize quarterly projects and assign weekly sprint tasks.

This process ensures that everything meets the highest priority goals and that we’re all doing our part to reach them.

Useful tools

We use task boards and mind maps to help us organize content and documentation for teams.

  • Hubstaff: With the Tasks add-on, we use our own software to keep tasks organized and track who is doing what. Tasks is a Kanban board workflow that integrates with Hubstaff so you can streamline your work further. It is built for Agile teams who want to prioritize work in Sprints and accomplish goals faster. Best of all, it’s free for teams of up to five people. 
  • Xmind: The maps in this post were designed using Xmind. This software is free and has most of the mind-mapping tools we need.
  • Mindjet: Mindjet is one of the most helpful mind mapping software available, with a well-rounded set of features. However, it’s pretty expensive.
  • Google Draw: This is a free web-based flowcharting program. It has less support than Google Docs and Sheets but should accomplish your flowcharting needs.
  • SmartDraw: This is a desktop-based program and a good tool for more complex flowcharts. 

Tying it all together

The Theory of Constraints is an effective priority management system that can help you accomplish your business goals. 

It certainly helped us at Hubstaff. 

When priorities change, we can revisit our mind maps to determine how they should affect our tasks. 

This process helps confirm that our daily tasks perfectly align with our business goals and that alignment is vital for our sanity when things move a million miles an hour.

We have more peace of mind because we are confident that we have the “what” figured out, which is more than half the battle. Execution is sometimes the easy part. This process has also helped us communicate our goals to the whole company. Everyone knows what the end goal is.

Do you have your own approaches to setting business objectives and goals?

Are there any tools you use to manage your tasks effectively, or is there anything we missed? We’d like to know in the comments. 

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Category: Business Growth