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Should You Set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?

Published on

March 18, 2022

6 Min Read

Should You Set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?

There are so many metrics and methods out there to set goals, track growth, and measure success. Almost too many, you might say. But for the startup committed to making an impact, a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal – could be exactly what you need.

A BHAG is a long-term goal that will inspire your startup to greatness over the next 10 to 30 years. But that doesn’t quite articulate its power. A BHAG is big, audacious, outrageous, and almost unachievable. Armed with a BHAG, you’ll set out how you’ll redefine your industry, transform your customer’s lives, and become the biggest and best company you can be.

Let’s talk about why your startup would benefit from a BHAG and how to set your own.

What is a BHAG?

A Big Hairy Audacious Goal is about thinking big. In fact, it could be the biggest goal you’ll ever set. Your BHAG will be the guiding light you’ll set your sights on for the next decade, two decades, or even longer. 

The BHAG is a term first coined in the nineties by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Some call it a stretch goal, but that doesn’t have quite the same effect. A BHAG is not just another goal on a different timescale. 

Instead, it should be exciting, inspiring, and galvanising – and show how you intend to change the world. 

In this way, a BHAG should probably:

Heads Up: What a BHAG is Not

With so much goal-setting and tracking terminology out there, let’s nip any confusion in the bud. A BHAG is valuable precisely because it isn’t like other techniques. Instead, it’s long-term, precise, and emotive. Here’s what a BHAG isn’t:

Why Your Startup Should Set a BHAG

You already have other goals. But why would your startup want another – especially one you’ve got half a chance of failing? The value of a BHAG is not just the beauty of its completion. Instead, an audacious goal offers benefits to your startup today.

While a BHAG is a long-term goal, it should inspire urgency. You won’t achieve that goal unless you start right now. Let’s see how you can get started with your own:

Types of BHAGs (with Examples) to Inspire Your Own Audacious Goal

Collins and Porras (who wrote the book we mentioned earlier), give four examples of types of BHAG. Take a look at these to see how other companies have used Big Hairy Audacious Goals to transform their own industries and the world: 

Note: It’s not great for startups to fixate on revenue-based targets, particularly in the early days. This can make you cut corners, rather than build a firm basis for sustained growth. Instead, as a goal, purpose might be more important than profit. For now.

Obviously, “crushing” is not exactly a specific, tangible goal. But your startup could assess competition using key performance indicators like market cap, revenue, or net promoter score. The benefit of these goals is that they can be really inspiring.

These BHAGs show your ambition to be up there with the greats, based on their reputation for innovation, disruption, or quality. 

How to Set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal

So, how can you set your own BHAG? Follow these steps:

Into the Future: Achieving Your BHAG

Now you’ve set your Big Hairy Audacious Goal, you need to set about achieving it. To get there, you need to make your startup the best organisation it can be. 

That means hiring the right people, setting performance targets, and building a super-powered growth team to scale your company.

At Traktion, we can help. We match companies with top tier growth marketers based on over 100 different factors. To hit your BHAG, outsourced marketing talent might be exactly what you need. Find your perfect match here


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