OKRs Examples

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Startups

OKRs Examples for Early Stage Startups

The day-to-day activities at a startup can be pretty chaotic. One moment you're building a feature, next you're on a demo call, 30 minutes later you're writing a blog post.

A goal-setting framework like OKRs can bring a lot of focus to teams that are still in the early-stage of their journey. It's an effective way to communicate priorities, and it can also unlock a lot of creativity by allowing teams to treat projects as bets that we make to achieve our goals.

In this post we'll see how startups can leverage OKRs, along with some examples to help you get started

How to write OKRs for Startups

Step 1. Understand the difference between OKRs and Projects

Before jumping into the OKRs process, it is essential to understand the difference between Objectives, Key Results, and projects:

  • Objectives: what do we want to achieve next quarter?
  • Key Results: how are we going to measure progress?
  • Projects: what are our best bets to get there?

Having this set of questions in mind will help you ensure that you're not mistaking projects for Key Results or Objectives.

A good Objective should be inspiring and easy to understand by anyone in your org. You can be more specific in the Key Results, but the Objectives should help every function understand the current focus and how they can contribute.

A good Key Result should follow the rules of the SMART framework. In particular, it should be relevant to its parent Objective, measurable through the quarter, and time-bound. A good test is to ask, "would we do things differently if this KR goes off-track?". If the answer is negative, then you need to refine your OKR.

Finally, your projects are the things that will move the needle on your Key Results. They're bets that you make with the team. Some will work—double down on it. Some will fail, and it should be okay to stop and move on to the next idea.

Step 2. Narrow down your focus

The next step is to pick the right focus. One tool that can help here is the AARRR framework. This framework divides your customer's journey into 5 stages:

  • Acquisition: how many people find out that you exist?
  • Activation: how many of them sign up for your product and become leads?
  • Retention: how many leads come back to use your product again?
  • Referral: how many users share your product with others?
  • Revenues: how many users end up paying for your product?

Teams that are just getting started should focus on the Retention and Activation stages of the AARRR funnel (in that order).

Focus areas:

Acquisition
Activation
Retention
Referral
Revenue

Key questions:

Are we solving a real pain for our users?

Is our product sticky?

Do we have enough insights from the user?

How easy is it for people to get started?

First, you want to make sure that people stick to your product and come back to it. It's okay if you need to set people up manually at that stage, or if you don't have the best onboarding. It's far more important to know that people are happy with the core product experience first.

Then, you can look at Activation and make sure that it's easy for people to sign up and get started with your product. Don't waste time optimizing your acquisition channels until your product is sticky enough. You'll end up losing a lot of potential users otherwise.

Step 3. Write your plan

Once you've narrowed down your focus, you can start writing your OKRs draft. Agree on 2-3 Objectives before diving into the Key Results. You'll see some examples below, and here's a guide about writing OKRs if you're just getting started.

Some of your objectives will be hard to achieve within a quarter. This is often the case when building core features. So what should you do? The answer is to find leading indicators of success.

You might not be able to charge your customers today, but you can still ask your users if they'd pay for it. You might not be able to onboard users yet, but you can still let people join a waiting list.

Make sure that you're not in the dark for too long. Good OKRs should help you raise your confidence every week.

Examples of Startup OKRs

OKRs to build a successful MVP

You'll notice that the OKRs below do not mention any features. Instead, it focused on the impact that said features should have. Keeping track of active users and satisfaction is an easy to make sure you'll build the right things.

Objective

Build a successful MVP

Key result

We have 100 weekly active users

Key result

Achieve a NPS score above 40

Key result

Secure 5 paid customers

More OKR templates →

OKRs to get a successful product launch next quarter

It can be hard to write OKRs for something that has yet to be launched. But, you can still think about what would make that launch a success.

Be careful not to turn your KRs into a checklist of things to prepare for a launch. Of course, you can have action items under your Key Results, but your OKRs should focus on the 2-3 things that will raise your confidence for the launch

Objective

Be on track for a great launch next quarter

Key result

Secure 10 press articles with known publications

Key result

Enroll 5 influences to boost our profile on social media on launch day

Key result

Build a mailing list of 1,000 people

More OKR templates →

OKRs to achieve product-market fit

You can use the Product-Market Fit survey as a proxy for success. It's a simple questionnaire that will help you understand how critical your business is for your users. We're also pairing retention and growth metrics together to make sure that we have a healthy growth.

Objective

Scale our ability to gather feedback from the team

Key result

Simplify the internal blogging process from 5 to 2 steps

Key result

Host 6 social or motivational events in line with employee selections

Key result

Establish employee satisfaction score baseline with monthly

More OKR templates →

OKRs to achieve product-market fit

You can use the Product-Market Fit survey as a proxy for success. It's a simple questionnaire that will help you understand how critical your business is for your users. We're also pairing retention and growth metrics together to make sure that we have a healthy growth.

Objective

Achieve product-market fit

Key result

Get a 40% score on our Product-Market Fit survey

Key result

Increase 4-month retention of new users from 10% to 45%

Key result

Increase the number of weekly leads from 25 to 100/week

More OKR templates →

OKRs to secure seed-funding

If you're looking to raise some funding, the best is often to chat to VCs and ask them what metrics they'd like to see. Then you can simply turn these into your OKRs. The metrics below come from P9's SaaS funding napkin.

Objective

Be on track to secure a seed round

Key result

Reach $200k ARR

Key result

Show a 3x year-on year revenue growth

Key result

Show a 25% month-on-month leads growth

More OKR templates →

How to track your OKRs?

There are many options available out there but we're generally seeing 2 categories of products emerging.

For teams getting started: Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are a great way to get started with OKRs. They're flexible and familiar, and they reduce the amount of learning when you're still getting comfortable with the Objectives and Key Results process.

But, you'll probably start to feel some friction as adoption grows. The lack of check-ins workflows and trends makes it hard for spreadsheet to be a long-term solution for OKRs.

For seasoned OKRs team: OKRs-tracking software

If you're looking to simplify your OKRs process, then a dedicated goal-tracking platform is best to keep track of your OKRs at scale.

A platform like Tability will automate the check-ins reminders, provide progress charts and dashboards out of the box, and make the whole experience more collaborative.

Focus tip:

Frequent check-ins are the key to staying on track with your OKRs. Checking progress early and often will tell you what you should and shouldn't focus on. Make check-ins a part of your weekly ritual with Tability →

What other metrics can you use in your startup?

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some example of metrics that can be relevant for your Key Results.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is seen as a general indicator of happiness for your customers. It measures how likely your users are to recommend your product.

Product/Market Fit score

The Product/Market Fit survey asks your user how disappointed they would be if your service no longer existed.

Daily/Weekly/Monthly Active Users (DAUs, WAUs, MAUs)

How many people are using your product every day/week/month.

Retention rate

What's the percentage of users that come back to your product every day/week/month.

Activation rate

What's the percentage of leads that turn into successful users?

Engagement

How do people interact with your content (it can be anything, from visits to specific sections to conversations in Intercom…)?

Monthly Recurring Revenue

How much revenue is generated every month by existing customers?

Signups

How many users sign up for your product?

Stop wasting your OKRs. Focus on the right work and accomplish your goals.

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