Entrepreneurs start their businesses envisioning the success they wish to see. But just having a great idea is not enough. What’s needed is a long-term roadmap with appropriate business milestones. This helps break down long-term goals into bite-sized objectives.
Through these milestones, you get a birds-eye view of where your business is and where you want to be in a given timeline. Think of it as a guiding principle for your business. It gives you direction, clarity, and the means to track, measure, and compare your progress.
In this article, we will see what are business milestones, why they matter, and how you can set them for your business. We will also share with you six of the most essential business plan milestones you need to create your own roadmap.
What Are Business Milestones, and Why Do You Need Them?
Milestones are the indicators in your business journey that help you identify how far you’ve come and what you need to do to reach your targets. They help simplify your actions into manageable and perceivable day-to-day activities.
Writing SMART goals and setting milestones are essential for your business to succeed. Milestones help you:
- Map out your goals with relevant metrics to track progress
- Adjust trajectory in case of any deviations
- Predict when you will reach your set goals
Goals without milestones lack direction. And to be able to follow the right direction, you need the right strategies that follow the right timeline.
How to Create Business Plan Milestones
Creating clear, accurate, and distinct milestones is essential to reaching your goals. An effective milestone has four key elements:
- Description (What): List down the details of your milestone. For instance, instead of writing ‘increase sales, you can write ‘increase sales by 30% percent. Add as many details as necessary to understand your objectives.
- Date (When): Mention a deadline for the task. Without one, it can be difficult to achieve goals on time. Set up a timeline for each task. This helps you manage and complete tasks as per your business requirements.
- Budget (How much): Before you start any task or project, plan your budget and how much of it you want to allocate to each task. This helps you stay within your budget, avoid wastage, and save time.
- Delegation (Who): Assign the responsibility to the relevant talents. Make sure to keep adequate supervision of the progress made to ensure a consistent outcome.
6 Must-have Business Milestones to Achieve
Inspired by a brilliant business idea, you decided to set up your company. You also took it upon yourself to create a custom business plan, acquire capital, secure all permits and licenses, and do other paperwork. Good job!
The next step is to set yourself apart from your competitors to establish authority. A well-made roadmap can help you get there and make sure that your business stands the test of time.
Keeping that in mind, here are 6 milestones to include in your business roadmap:
1. Create a Tailored Business Model
A business model explains how a company makes money; it describes how your business operates to generate sales and revenue. An effective business model is simple to understand and flexible to changes in the business environment.
Before you put up the “Yes, we’re open” sign, make sure to conduct a customer analysis. This will help you identify your target audience, and their pain points, and sell them profitable solutions. The more complex of a problem you’re solving, the higher you can price your solutions.
Once you’ve gathered enough data from your analysis, you can customize your business model based on the promising trends. After achieving this milestone, start selling your offerings to your target customers.
2. Sell to Your First Repeat Customer
A good business knows how to attract new customers, but a great business knows how to retain them. Your next milestone is to sell your offerings to a repeat customer, i.e. a former customer who wants to buy from you again.
Simply put, it means getting your one-time customers to revisit your store for a second purchase.
Here are a few ways to do that:
- Personalize the shopping experience: When customers buy from your store, they leave a trail of info behind like their age, gender, status, etc. This info helps you understand their buying habits, interests, and purchasing power. With this info, you can provide them with a personalized experience when they visit again to make them want to stick longer.
- Maintain customer relationships: Customers buy from brands they remember. To do so, you can reach them via email, SMS, social media, newsletters, etc. You can use these channels to let them know of special offers, remind them of sales, etc.
- Maintain a strong online presence: Interact with your customers on the platforms they use the most. Create targeted posts and increase engagement. Resist overblown hard-sell tactics. Instead, use creative ways to incur inbound leads.
- Reward customer loyalty: If you happen to be lucky enough to have loyal customers, make sure to reward them for their loyalty. Rewards can include discounts, coupons, free shipping, or free product demos. These will help spread word-of-mouth about your brand and increase awareness
3. Execute a Realistic Marketing Strategy
After attaining repeat customers, the next milestone is to multiply those numbers. We do this by using vigorous strategic marketing techniques. Remember, marketing is the heart of a business. It’s a medium to build relationships and communicate with the outside world.
A good marketer is an ambitious one, but a smart marketer injects a sense of realism into their marketing strategy. The more realistic you are, the more likely you are to achieve your marketing goals and successfully promote and sell your offerings.
Creating a marketing strategy requires extensive research and analysis. To do so, a great start is to conduct a SWOT analysis. Keep a close eye on your industry’s growth, prevalent trends, customers, and competitors.
Marketing is a trial-and-error practice; don’t expect quick results. Once you know what works, you can outsource your marketing needs to an ad agency to save time.
4. Build a Reliable Team
After earning loyal customers and creating a robust marketing plan, the next milestone is to build a solid team. A team with a diverse skillset helps you generate new ideas, solve problems, and tackle uncertainties.
Every startup begins with a compact team. But as you progress further, you will need more support. Make sure that your team is on the same page and can manage conflicts and different opinions.
This is where a good HR can come in handy to unite the efforts of the team. Be sure to take your team’s opinions into account when making important business decisions and strategic changes.
5. Increase Your Repute in the Industry
With a reliable team in place, your next milestone is to compete with rivals and gain authority in your industry. Make use of every opportunity, online and offline, to spread your brand name. Analyze your customer needs, assess what your competitors are doing, and provide better solutions.
Doing so will help you turn heads—which later translate into sales. Write guest posts, offer free seminars/webinars, partner with other brands, use press releases, and market on social media.
6. Achieve a Set Sales Target
The milestones you’ve achieved so far are mostly qualitative. For the last milestone, you will set a quantitative sales target paired with a deadline. This means reaching a specific dollar amount of sales in a given amount of time.
Often after a certain point, business growth stagnates. To avoid this, keep creating new goals that are ambitious yet achievable. This will ensure a higher chance of success in the long run.
Create Your Roadmap to Success
Starting a business comes with all sorts of obstacles. Some are easy to overcome, and some take months. Regardless, setting milestones helps you maintain a clear vision of where you want to go.
A profitable business model, loyal customers, a realistic marketing strategy, a reliable team, a good reputation, and an achievable sales target—all combine to ensure your long-term success.