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OKRs examples for small businesses by a small business COO (+ free template)

OKRs examples for small businesses by a small business COO (+ free template)

Setting OKRs at a small business is always an exercise you need to carefully think about. Will they be challenging enough? Do they meet our business objectives? 

At Charlie, this is a part of our work we like to challenge and questions, because it determines the overall success of our business in the long run. And it’s important to ask questions when it comes to setting OKRs. 

In this guide, I’ll be sharing with you the way we set OKRs as well and finally some OKRs examples to help you set your own

Download our OKR examples template.webp

What are the best OKRs for small businesses? 

OKRs – meaning Objectives and Key Results – are a measurable way for teams and businesses to set goals to work towards. 

  • Objectives: the goal you’ve set yourself to reach 
  • Key Results: the way you’re going to measure whether that goal has or hasn’t been reached

They're formulated as a sentence outlining the objective and the metrics attached to it. For small businesses, they’re deeply attached to the business’ success in the early days. We’ll share some OKR examples specific to small businesses later in this post.

How do you set OKRs from an operations perspective? 

At Charlie, setting OKRs requires a lot of organisation. That's why our operational team is involved in the process. Here's what it looks like:

  • We ask team leaders to send their OKRs to the leadership team by a certain date.
  • All team leaders then participate in giving each other feedback and adjust their OKRs if needed.
  • Once that’s done, the rest of the team can have access to OKRs at any point
  • We also share progress week by week. We've found it’s a great way to improve engagement towards common goals and keep everyone up to date with what other teams are doing, which can sometimes be difficult when people don’t work together.

Why are OKRs important for small businesses? 

With very scarce time and resources, and many problems to solve, OKRs can help you and your team focus your efforts on the activities that drive the most business value. 

As a small business leader, you know too much processes and structure will only hinder your team's agility and creativity. 

OKRs offer a flexible framework to ensure your team is constantly driving for results, no matter how often you change your business direction. 

How do you write OKRs?

There are a few valuable principles we follow when writing our OKRs. Let me share them below. 

Writing objectives 

Objectives need to be: 

  • Easy to understand 
  • Achievable by your team
  • Related to business objectives 
  • Focused on one area 
  • Applicable to all team members within the team

They are very similar to setting SMART goals for your business – learn more in our guide. 

Setting Key Results 

Key Results have to be: 

  • Easily verifiable 
  • Challenging and ambitious enough for each team 
  • Realistic in relation to resources 
  • Led by one person in each team 

Ways to formulate your OKRs

Here are some clear ways of formulating your Objectives and Key results that you can take inspiration from: 

  • We want to (objective) by reaching (key result)
  • We will (objective) with the following results (key results) 

How we work at Charlie and how we set OKRs 

Before reading this, there’s a few things you should know about how we work at Charlie: 

  • We have two 6-month 'Quests' per year, with each Quest made up of four 6-week 'cycles'.
  • During each Quest, we focus on 3-4 company objectives.
  • We then form smaller teams within the business to work towards these objectives over the coming Quest
  • Before each Quest begins, teams decide on a number of tactics that they will work on throughout the cycles, which will help us make progress on our company priorities.
  • Each tactic is measured by a key result (KR), and these may stay the same throughout cycles or may change if a team decides to change tactics.

OKRs examples from a small business 

Below, we’re sharing some examples of OKRs we’ve set for our teams in the past. Hopefully, they can help you get inspired to set some of your own. 

Company OKRs examples

These are the OKRs set for the entire company – they’re really helpful to set a direction for the whole business to follow. 

Example 1

Objective: We want to drive revenue growth and profitability.

  • KR1: Achieve a 15% increase in quarterly revenue compared to the same quarter last year.
  • KR2:  Decrease operational costs by 10% through process optimisation and efficiency improvements.
  • KR3:  Launch two new product features that contribute to a 20% increase in upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Sales team OKRs examples

Sales teams have to reach targets, but their OKRs can be really different depending on the stage your company is at and where you’re focusing to move the needle. 

Example 1

We want to boost software subscription revenue by the end of the year. 

  • KR1: By hitting 50% extra revenue from software subscriptions. 
  • KR2: By having an increase in average customer size from 10 team members to 20 team members. 

Example 2

We want to improve our upsell strategy.  

  • KR1: By getting at least 15% of our software database to become HR advice customers. 
  • KR2: By increasing our cold calling capacity by 15% every month. 

Product management team OKRs examples

It can sometimes be difficult to measure the impact of product teams, but we’ve found that giving product teams concrete numbers to reach has been way more efficient than letting them work in the dark. 

Example 1

We want to become attractive to larger companies. 

  • KR1: By building a payroll functionality that will attract 10% more companies with more than 200 team members
  • KR2: By improving our time off functionality and reducing churn from companies with more than 200 team members by 10%. 

Example 2

We aim to increase the velocity of our sprints.  

  • KR1: By improving our feature release from an average of 10 weeks to 7 weeks. 
  • KR2: By improving the speed of our testing capacities from 3 weeks to 1 week. 

Marketing team OKRs examples

Marketing is one of the most versatile teams. Depending on which part of the funnel it’s set to impact, marketing has a myriad of ways they can impact business numbers. 

Example 1

We want to attract more potential customers with our blog. 

  • KR1: Increase our content production by 20% each month
  • KR2: increase organic search traffic by 20% by the end of Q4

Example 2

We aim to bring customers through social media channels.  

  • KR1: Increase our conversion rate by 5% on social media 
  • KR2: 10% of our overall leads come through social media

Operations and HR teams OKRs examples

Operations, or HR depending on the team’s skills set, can be very influential for your business. At Charlie, we think setting KRs for these teams is important to develop the business and make sure every team has an impact on the business. 

Example 1

We want to build a high-performing and happy team

  • KR1: Increase wellbeing and remote work budget by 15% to improve satisfaction metrics 
  • KR2: Build 2 new HR policies regarding mental health 

Example 2

We aim to increase our hiring and grow the team with exceptional candidates.   

  • KR1: Increase the reach of our employee referral program rewards by 20%
  • KR2: Recruit 15 new people across different teams by the end of 2025

Design OKRs examples

Design at Charlie means two things: product design and brand design. We have different sets of skills for designers for these two, and therefore different KRs are set depending on what they need to accomplish. 

Example 1 – product design

We want to streamline User Interface (UI) for increased usability and efficiency.

  • KR1: Reduce the average time to complete key user tasks by 20% through UI optimisations.
  • KR2: Improve the usability satisfaction score (SUS) by 15 points in user testing sessions.
  • KR3: Implement a responsive design approach resulting in a 25% decrease in user complaints related to UI inconsistencies across devices.

Example 2 - brand design

We give marketing and sales the deliverables they need to succeed.  

  • KR1: Increase our design input by 15% each month by allocating more time 
  • KR2: Run at least 10 LinkedIn ads each month

Engineering team examples

Our engineering team at Charlie usually collaborates with many departments, being pulled into different directions, but it’s important to have high standards when it comes to coding and processes. 

Example 1

We have high standards when it comes to compliance and hacking threats. 

  • KR1: Achieve at least 95% score on audit quality by external conductor. 
  • KR2: Improve our Ethical Hacker test scores by 5%. 

Example 2

We optimise our website navigation for mobile. 

  • KR1: Reduce churn rate from pages on mobile by 20%. 
  • KR2: Improve loading speed from pages on mobile by 30%. 

Customer success team examples

Customer success teams are here to help you accomplish a myriad of things to retain your customers, and that’s where the tactics they’ll put into place will be crucial to your company’s overall strategy.

Example 1

We keep our customers happy and engaged with our product. 

  • KR1: Reduce churn rate by 15% by the end of the quarter
  • KR2: Improve our customers attendance to webinars by 20% this year

Example 2

We give our customers access to self-service when needed.  

  • KR1: Improve our FAQs by publishing 40 more articles 
  • KR2: Record 15 additional videos to explain how to use features 

What OKRs will help you accomplish 

At Charlie, we’ve definitely seen the benefits of introducing a structured approach to performance with OKRs – so perhaps if you’re a CEO or a founder, you’d like to do the same. 

That’s also how we managed to build a product that’s designed for small businesses. 

And if you’re at the early stages, and you’re struggling with more than OKRs – HR for example – maybe it’s time to have a look at Charlie. 

Sort your HR today.webp

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