For many runners, the key to enduring until the end of a race is to keep an eye out for checkpoints along the way. If they can make it to the first checkpoint, they can make it to the next. Soon enough, the series of checkpoints becomes a finish line, and they’ve accomplished their ultimate goal. They have finished the race.
The same could be said for small business owners. As we pursue our goals for success, the task may seem quite daunting at first. But if we approach our goals by setting small business milestones along the way, we will find that success is a lot closer than we think.
Setting Small Business Milestones
Milestones are checkpoints or benchmarks that help us determine whether or not our small business is truly moving forward. The following steps can be useful in establishing appropriate milestones for your small business.
Make a plan
Every plan can be broken down into a series of goals – desired results or outcomes – and every goal requires a plan of action. It is important for small business owners to define exactly what they want before putting the axe to the grindstone. This way the owners know how to lead their companies, and employees know what is expected of them.
When it comes to setting goals, one great place to start is with your small business model. This is usually the first course of action for most business owners. Planning and creating a suitable business model is very helpful in determining the direction of your small business. It defines the business, the target client, and the methods you plan to use to satisfy the demands of the customers.
Using your business model as a guide, answer the following questions to generate a list of goals for your business:
● What do you want your small business to accomplish?
● How many categories can your small business be divided into (e.g. customer service, accounting, marketing, etc.) and what would be some best practices you would like to see in each category?
● What is your target demographic? How do you plan to reach them?
● How will you satisfy what your clients require?
● What is your contingency plan?
There are many more questions you can ask yourself, but this is a good jumping off point. Just remember that when you create goals, you are essentially making a commitment to actually accomplish and implement them, so it’s important to be realistic. A goal without a plan may just be a wish, but a plan without action is failure.
However, it is important to note that changes to your initial plan will inevitably come. This will be the time that your contingency plan will come into play. Adjustments will need to be made (such is life), so it’s better to be prepared than to be caught off guard.
Categorize short-term goals and long-term goals
Listing your goals is just the beginning of setting milestones for your small business. So, what’s next? Now you have to segment that list into more manageable steps. Trying to accomplish too many goals at once is exhausting to both you and your employees. Take it slow.
Categorize your goals into what can be accomplished now and what needs to be tackled later on in the timeline. This can sometimes be hard to determine on your own, because everything seems to be urgent or important at first, but if you view your short-term goals as stepping stones towards reaching your long-term goals, you will begin to see the connection.
As you begin to segment your goals in this way, you may even discover some new goals that can act as a bridge between other goals. This is part of the process to setting comprehensive milestones for your small business. Enjoy it!
Achieving Your Small Business Milestones
Once you have generated a list of short and long-term goals for your business, all that is left to do is to start checking them off the list!
For military operatives, developing tactical strategies is one of the most important aspects of their job. They must combine their knowledge of the terrain, the enemy, and the resources they have into a well-defined small business strategy so that everyone knows exactly what their role is.
Small business owners must also make their strategies clear so that their employees know what to do; therefore, the next task is to strategize ways to streamline the process of achieving your goals.
Determining the factors that may help or hinder your small business’s ability to reach its goals is key in creating an appropriate business strategy. Anticipate what can go wrong or where there may be limitations, and plan accordingly. Get input from your employees and your clients to develop best practices. Not only will they appreciate your willingness to hear from them, but they may also give interesting insight into methods you had not considered before.
Manage your time
Time can be one of the biggest enemies of productivity. Oftentimes we begin the day with a list of items we aim to accomplish, and by the day’s end, delays, conflicts, and the like keep us from getting it all done.
For many small business owners, there are multiple areas that frequently need their attention and ultimately eat up a lot of their time. Focusing on one item at a time will allow you to devote your energy to accomplishing the tasks needed to reach that certain milestone. This may be easier said than done, but here are a few tips to implementing time management in your work day:
● Use an organizer, calendar, or planner to plot your schedule in accordance to the tasks needed to be accomplished. This will allow you to keep track of your progress in accomplishing those tasks.
● Once you have plotted your schedule, it’s time to create your workflow. Organize your tasks from the easiest to the hardest. Doing the easy stuff first actually emboldens you to tackle the more difficult challenges later.
● Your workflow will turn into a system. Once it has, you’ll be sticking to it and it’ll be a powerful tool that will help you accomplish everything.
Lastly, trial and error always works
Remember that these are just a few tips that aim to help you in your small business venture. You’ll undoubtedly encounter trials, but make a point to learn something from them and use them as teachable moments when you try again the next time around. Failure can be good, when utilized the right way.
Nevertheless, with the right amount of dedication, diligence and perseverance, you will achieve each milestone you set for your small business and ultimately reach your goal.
~Jamara Wilson, Team Tuxedo Impressions LLC™