How Setting One Goal Can Change The Trajectory Of Your Startup


There’s one thing that can have a bigger impact on the growth of your startup more than anything else.

It’s not a rockstar engineer or hiring a killer VP of sales.

And it has nothing to do with increasing ARPU, decreasing CAC, or any other acronym we love to use in the SaaS world.

It has to do with alignment and getting everyone to row in the right direction. And in over 20 years of working in startups, I’ve only found one way to get everyone on the same page:

Every single team member has to have the same goal.

What’s Your One Thing?

Our team at Drift read Gary Keller’s The ONE Thing to start off 2016, and that book had a huge impact on everyone’s focus and individual priorities, but something still wasn’t right.

We had clear goals as a team, but the problem was exactly that — we goals.

Multiple goals led to everyone focusing on different parts of the AARRRfunnel.

We were trying to do too many things at once: marketing was focused on leads. Sales was focused on converting leads. Product and design were focused on building whatever was next.

We were making progress, but it wasn’t fast — and it didn’t feel like the entire team was pulling in one direction.

So we made the decision to zoom out and got everyone focused on ONE part of the funnel: new signup.

Why signups? Because as an early stage startup, that’s the one part of the funnel that needs to grow in order for us to hit our goals.

Activation, retention, revenue and referrals are all crucial.

But today, the single most important thing for our business is new signups. We need a certain amount of people coming in and signing up to use Drift.

Find The Goal That’s Right For Your Startup

This is one where you need to throw out whatever everyone else is doing and find what’s most important to your business.

If we made the decision to focus only on activation, we’d be looking back a few months later with a handful of people using Drift.

Instead, I’m sitting here writing this post with thousands of new people using Drift — just over 60 days.

Growing a business is all about stages and remembering which stage you’re in. You can’t start at the bottom of the funnel.

So we set one goal for the entire team. Whether you work in sales, marketing, product or design, your goal was signups.

This makes things super simple: if what you’re working on does not map to more signups, don’t do it.

We cut every field off of our signup form except for email. We prioritized integrations that would bring more new signups. We built features that would attract new people to Drift. Heck we even launched an entire new feature without an onboarding flow.

Simple, not easy. But the results make it worth it.

The Impact On Our Team

Two months into the quarter the results are already in.

Not only did we absolutely crush our Q2 goal, but this focus on signups had a massive impact across our entire company:

  • We got thousands of businesses using Drift. That usage was like oxygen for our entire team, and there was almost a shift overnight. We stopped making assumptions about what people wanted and were now able to build everything based on real customer feedback.
  • Everyone was aligned. If it didn’t map to new signups, we didn’t do it. And this got everyone rowing in the right direction.
  • It simplified our funnel. Too many startups get caught up in spreadsheets and charts and dashboards and all of these crazy funnel metrics. This forced us to keep it simple.

And the best part? We more than doubled our free to paid conversion rate without focusing on revenue.

Funny what can happen when you get your entire team aligned around one goal and people using your product.


This article was written by David Cancel — Entrepreneur, Investor, and CEO of Drift. The original article can be found on Medium here.