What Were Your Small Business Milestones?

What are the key milestones in the life of a small business owner?

A new study by Manta and Dell asked entrepreneurs about their first steps to startup, their motivations for starting a business and the biggest milestones they’ve experienced on the road to business growth.

First, despite conventional wisdom, few entrepreneurs start businesses just to “get rich.” Only 28 percent say financial success was their top reason for starting, compared to 37 percent who launched a business for a feeling of personal accomplishment.

Overall, networking was the first step that most entrepreneurs took when launching their startup. However, this differed slightly depending on industry: Networking was the most common first step among businesses in technology and communications; writing a business plan was the most common first step for healthcare businesses; and business owners in industrial or food/beverage industries were most likely to say their first step was buying phones, computers and printers. Overall, more than half of small business owners say their first technology purchase was a desktop or laptop computer.

Once you’re up and running, how do you know when you’ve “made it”? The number-one milestone small business owners cite is getting their first repeat customer. And, 54 percent say their most significant technology milestone was launching their website.

How did your first steps to startup and your business milestones jibe with those of the survey respondents? It’s OK if you didn’t follow the same path as other business owners. What matters is that you do lay out a path for startup, look ahead to significant milestones, and figure out how you want to reach them.

Planning out the milestones you want to achieve, whether that’s hiring your first employee or hitting $1 million in sales, gives you something to strive for and motivates you when startup gets hard (which it always does).

Along with the big milestones, however, don’t forget to plan for—and celebrate—little ones, like opening your business bank account, signing your store lease or getting your first customer.

Business planning software can help you plot out your milestones. So can help from a SCORE mentor. Don’t have a mentor yet? Visit www.score.org to get matched with one and get help every step of the way on the journey to business ownership.

Rieva Lesonsky
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