Alex's Tech Thoughts

The Number

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Yesterday I wrote about offsites and why they are important for your company. Today I want to write about “The Number” as it directly relates to the first offsite you and your co-founders take.

"The Number" is something a company needs to set up early on as it is connected to what you track and care about. Sometimes there is more than one number that guides whether there is success, underachievement, or failure. The Number is the metric you look at every day and if it is doing well, you are happy. If it isn’t, you are sad (i.e. your ultimate goal is to make The Number go up).

For most startups, “The Number” is usually a numerical goal around a few metrics, the most popular ones being revenue, new users, and activity (i.e. active users).

So how do you figure out what your “Number” is?

It’s actually pretty easy. You look at what you need to do as a business to be successful. At different times in your company’s lifecycle, different things may be more important than others. Your number is the thing that helps you become profitable, build a lasting business, raise more money, get acquired, etc. Whatever your end game is, “The Number” is your guiding light.

So, what is your number?

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The Number Goals Revenue Users
Goals For SocialRank

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We launched our product yesterday, so now I think it’s a good time to share some of Michael and my goals for SocialRank. We have two sides to the product: one is for individuals and the other is for brands. We have different goals for each side.

On the Individual level we have three goals:

1) Have people try the tool.

2) A good percentage to share the results of their best follower on Twitter (i.e. the viral mechanic we have in place - “want to see your Top 10?”).

3) Add enough value for people to come back once a month for their new report.

Putting this in perspective it means we won’t be upset or disappointed if individuals using the platform aren’t using the product every day (I would even argue, there is not much for them to use every day…yet).

On the Brand level we have four goals:

1 + 2) Same as Individuals

3) Have the brand get enough value from the basic version to upgrade to the premium version to see more.

4) For the brands using SocialRank to engage with and reward their best followers, most valuable followers, and most engaged followers.

This is a higher order than for individuals and we are excited about the challenge.

Writing this down and putting the information out there helps us stay focused and only do things that help reach these goals.

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Goals SocialRank
Balancing Personal and Professional Goals At Startups

It’s very hard to balance personal and professional goals at startups. I have a myriad of things I’d like to accomplish in my life. Some are personal, others professional. At times they cross over and at times they are at odds.

While I don’t have all the answers to balancing your personal and professional goals, I do have one tip.

That tip is, keep a list. Divide items by personal and professional. Try to cross things off as often as you can. Some are short term goals, others are long term. For example, at Aviary, I really wanted to meet as many people as I could in venture capital, tech press, and BD world. I wanted to leverage my situation of being at a venture-backed startup to grow my network. I definitely met a lot of people and at some point I crossed it off my list.

How do you go about balancing personal and professional goals?

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Balancing Personal Professional Goals Startups
Writing Out Goals

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For my first few jobs out of school I had very specific goals I wanted to attain. For example, at Aviary I really wanted to learn how to get press, meet investors, pitch and close, build a product, scale a product, and more (on top of my daily job responsibilities). In fact, I kept a Google Doc listing all my goals and crossed them out as I reached them.

Setting goals has always helped me. I like to-do lists and the satisfaction of crossing out accomplishments. It also helps me gather my thoughts on the task(s) at hand.

This post isn’t meant to teach something new, but rather to remind you that putting thought to personal and professional goals is pretty important. If you are in a job right now (or not) and don’t have a list of all the things you want to accomplish, you are doing it wrong.

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Goals Startups