OKRs for Startups


How to write good Key Results using the SMART method – with examples

How to write good Key Results using the SMART method – with examples

Sten Pittet - CEO
STen Pittet
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A simple way to write good Key Results is to embrace the SMART framework for your goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. We'll see below how this can be applied to your KRs.


Your Key Results should help your team understand what the focus is. Avoid vague statements, but also be careful not to be too prescriptive. You need to describe the goal, not tell people how to achieve it.

  • Not specific: Get more users.
  • Specific: Increase the number of accounts of 1000+ employees by 20%
  • Too specific: Get Coca-cola and Nike to sign up.


Setting OKRs helps create alignment in your org, but tracking OKRs is what allows great execution. Make sure that your KRs can be measured every week to see if you're trending in the right direction.

There will be times when it will be difficult to set measurable goals, especially for long-running projects. In this case, I would encourage you to find other metrics that can raise your confidence in the end results (eg: waiting list signups, pre-sales, UX feedback).

What's critical is to avoid binary outcomes (done/not done) that can only measured once during the quarter.

  • Not measurable: Increase satisfaction.
  • Measurable: Keep our Net Promoter Score above 40.


There's a lot of OKRs literature that recommends to set highly ambitious targets for your Key Results. It's a good thing to challenge yourself, but it's also dangerous to have goals that are clearly out of reach. This is a sure way to sap morale and see people lose their motivation.

Instead you should try to build momentum by having a few victories to celebrate on the way to accomplishing more demanding challenges.

  • Not attainable:  Publish 10,000 posts by the end of the quarter.
  • Attainable: Get 500 views on new content by the end of the quarter.
  • Too attainable: Write 2 blog posts by the end of the quarter.


Your Key Results should clearly relate to their parent Objective. Don't write "reduce CAC by 30%" if your Objective is to "be the #1 solution in our market".

But there's another aspect to the Relevant factor. You need to focus on Key Results that you have some control over. For instance, you probably can't prevent people from competing with you. But you can do your best to be the #1 choice for people.

  • Objective: Make SEO a strong growth channel
  • Not relevant: Increase pricing page conversion by 30%
  • Relevant: Rank on the first page of Google for 10 terms related to our product.


You shouldn't have to worry about the time-bound aspect of your KRs as there's already a timeline provided by your OKRs plan itself (quarter).

Examples of great OKRs

If you need some inspirations, you can find dozens of OKRs examples listed below:

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