Class: 2014 Winter Accelerator
AeroShip.it uses automated aerial drones to deliver supplies. We focus on disaster areas without road access where relief organizations must move supplies to stranded populations quickly and cheaply.
SMART goals during Merrimack Valley Accelerator:
Startup acceleration is all about moving quickly, failing fast, building or testing minimum versions of your business to validate guesswork. When I applied to the Merrimack Valley Sandbox in the fall, three months sounded like a very long time. But for better and worse, time flies when you’re working with a passion! An excellent way to make progress is through goals-setting, so the Sandbox assigned each entrepreneur the task of picking three goals to accomplish during the program.
SMART thinking separate effective goals from wishy-washy dreaming. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
A bad example is to lose weight. It’s not specific, so you’ll never really know when you’ve achieved it, making it hard to know if it’s attainable. It’s also not particularly relevant or time-bound, so you could conceivably work on it for years. About the only thing this goal has going for it is that it’s measurable.
Instead, consider the goal to lose 10 pounds before your beach trip in 3 weeks. It’s specific and easy to measure (the scale doesn’t lie). And it’s time-bound for a relevant reason–your upcoming beach trip. Lastly, the goal is attainable, though it might take some hard work.
SMART goals don’t have to be easy–in fact for most of the entrepreneurs at the Sandbox, they’re not. But forcing yourself to adhere to the SMART guidelines in formulating your goals makes it much easier to turn nebulous dreams (like “get paying customers”) into goals on which you can make progress (like “Drive 10 users to pay for premium by the end of the 2nd quarter”).
As each entrepreneur shared his or her goals with the group, two categories of goals emerged.
First was to create, think through, or otherwise improve a business or revenue model. A SMART way to formulate this goal might be “to have at least one answer in each segment of the Business Model Canvas by the end of the Accelerator.” That level of specificity makes it much easier to take what could be an everlasting project and make it achievable in a short amount of time. If that turns out to be too easy, that’s great! It’s much more satisfying to check off an easy goal and set a more challenging followup then to never achieve an unattainable one. Clearly the Sandbox has got us all thinking about the foundations of our businesses–how can we sustainably provide value to our customers?
“Find and market to customers” was the second theme I noticed. Of course this makes sense, few businesses are anything without customers. Also, investors would be much more interested in a business that already has traction among customers than one without. The Sandbox has already tasked each of us with contacting and learning about our customer’s pain points, so this goal is a natural extension of that line of inquiry. To make it SMART though, it should be reformulated to something like “get 100 users to sign up before the end of the Accelerator.” Marieke announced a similar goal to “test for 3 customer pain points over at least 50 people.”
We’re already a third of the way through the Accelerator, so we’re setting SMART goals to make the best use of our remaining time.
Happ New Year!
Michael Luby, founder of AeroShip.it