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Have you heard about BHAG?

Why scale-ups should set Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

Twelve Amsterdam-based companies were selected for the new ACE-Ready to Scale program at Startup Village, which kicked off on January 17. After a successful pilot program in 2017, three rounds of the program are lined up for 2018. First order of business for our newest participants? Determining a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). In the weeks running up to the first session, participants were asked to prepare for the workshop by thinking about what they want to achieve within the next ten to thirty years.

What the heck is BHAG?

Coining the term in 1994, business expert James Collins describes the BHAG as a company’s one medium-long term visionary goal. The BHAG should ideally be inspiring and spark your imagination to stimulate focus. Externally, big audacious goals may appear questionable, but they should not be entirely impossible to achieve. Some famous BHAG examples include Microsoft’s goal of putting a computer on every desk, in every home. SpaceX founder Elon Musk is currently reaching for the sky with a BHAG to enable human exploration and settlement on Mars.

Why it’s important

Unlike more attainable, short-term goals, a BHAG is extremely challenging and perhaps seems out of reach, however – it can push companies to achieve more than they would with a set of smaller, more achievable goals. Furthermore, by focusing on one singular goal, it also serves as a tool to motivate your team and collectively work towards it. International entrepreneur Pieter van Osch (ScaleUp Company) joined the Ready to Scale kick-off to elaborate on the BHAG concept and help our scale-ups define their big audacious goals more clearly. “While it may initially feel uneasy talking about your BHAG, it will eventually bring more energy into the company”, says van Osch, “furthermore, it offers a frame work that helps you position your company, and makes it easier to set priorities and make decisions.”

What’s yours?

A BHAG inspires, and offers direction and a frame work for your company. Want to learn more about BHAG? Ready to Scale offers mentoring, workshops and advice for scale-ups in the Noord-Holland region. In this course, we use Verne Harnish’s Scaling up: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits as a guide for participants to set goals and execute them.  Learn more about Ready to Scale.

Inquiries about the Ready to Scale program and applications for the upcoming starting date in April 2018 may be directed at Joost Reimert by sending an email to joost@ace-incubator.nlor to Roderick van den Berg at

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