Launching a startup can feel a lot like embarking on an exciting adventure… with no map. You have a general idea of where you want to end up, but without a clear path to get there, you’re going to take a lot of wrong turns — and potentially end up in some danger. That’s why at Brands X Humans, one of the first things we like to do with brands is establish their North Star — aka, the guiding principle that lights their way.

What Is A North Star?

Look up “What is a business’ North Star?” and you’re going to get a ton of different answers. There isn’t one clear-cut definition of North Star, because it can be whatever an organization needs to guide them. However, at Brands X Humans, we strongly believe in our formula for developing a purposeful and effective North Star:

Your Vision + A Big, Audacious Goal = Your North Star

We believe combining your org’s vision (aka, the high-level, inspirational statement describing what your company desires to achieve) with a bold (but tangible!) goal will lead to a supernova of a North Star, inspiring company stakeholders to continue striving toward a future where your vision is a reality and your goal is met.

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How To Find Your Startup’s North Star

Finding your startup’s North Star can be an adventure in itself.

First things first, get clear on your vision: What makes your brand tick? Where do you see your org in 5, 10, 20 years? How do you hope you’ve impacted, disrupted, or completely overhauled your industry? Write out that vision statement and ensure everyone’s on board with the future you’re all working toward.

Then, dream big! Think of a goal that’s so out there, you might even second-guess whether it’s even in the realm of possibility. (Spoiler alert: It is.) This should be a tangible, measurable goal, typically combined with a (realistic) timeline in which it can be achieved.

Mix these two, and bam! You’ve got your North Star shining bright.

For example…

An EdTech startup might have the following vision: “To democratize education by providing innovative, accessible, and personalized learning solutions that empower individuals to thrive in a rapidly evolving world.”

Their goal might be: “Expand the user base to serve learners from at least 100 countries, with a target of reaching 50 million users globally within the next 10 years.”

Put ’em together, and you’ve got a stellar North Star: “We’re building a global community committed to lifelong learning and success by offering innovative, accessible, and personalized learning solutions to 50 million+ learners worldwide, across 100 countries, in the next 10 years.”

Why Your Startup Needs A North Star

A North Star isn’t just another cutesy turn of phrase you can display on your business’ website; it’s the heartbeat that keeps your org alive when times get tough. Regardless of the pivots made, setbacks endured, and uncertainties that will inevitably crop up, you’ll be consistently reminded of what you’re working toward, allowing you to adjust your path however necessary to stay on the path toward the future you want to build.

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About the Author: Jenny Farias

Meet Jenny — the founder and brand-alchemist-at-large here at BxH. She's an award-winning marketer and speaker dedicated to helping founders turn their unicorn dreams into reality. When she's not crushing it at work, you can find her jet-setting across the globe, supporting fellow female founders (hello, gWen!), or hitting up Charlotte's vibrant entrepreneurial scene with her boyfriend, Ben (#BenTheGem). Wherever she goes, Jenny brings her infectious energy and can-do attitude to the table — preferably alongside a spicy margarita.

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