Happy New Year and welcome to 2016! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Now, it’s time to take on those New Year’s resolutions!
Most of us start off the year with new goals to tackle; however, all too often, we end up stopping short of our final destination. We run out of time and/or dedication or perhaps our goal was too daunting to even start; resolutions are often pushed aside as we settle back into our normal, comfortable routine. So if you are really serious about being successful, it may be useful to think about setting mini-milestones on the way to your final objective.
This advice is especially critical for startups, because almost all entrepreneurs have the same end goal – to be successful. However, there are many goals that they need to hit along the way. Often, these smaller goals, themselves, can appear daunting, let alone the big one to “make it big.” In order to make each growth goal more achievable, setting milestones within those goals will help create a step-by-step process for completion and (hopefully) success.
For example, one of your goals may be raise a “Series A” round, i.e. a first significant round of venture capital financing. Simple enough, right? Go get money. But where do you start? This is where milestones come into play. Your plan may look something like this:
- Milestone 1: validate value proposition and customer segment. Your early investors will want to see that your company is solving an existing problem or filling an unmet need.
- Milestone 2: complete market research. Your investors will also want to know that you’re operating in a market that can accommodate growth.
- Milestone 3: develop a professional pitch deck to present to potential investors.
- Milestone 4: identify and contact investors. You’ll need to present this deck to the right people so take some time to research and develop a quality list.
You have now broken down a relatively lofty goal into four achievable milestones that will help you stay organized and meet this end goal.
Seeing the forest and the trees
It sounds simple enough, but sometimes it’s hard to see the little milestones within a large goal. For instance, you may know that you need FDA regulatory clearance, but you have no idea where to start. This is where enlisting the right people comes into play. Whether you hire someone to help you or you work solely with your core team, using the people around you to help set milestones will make the entire process seem less overwhelming. The ideas and discoveries that come out of brainstorming sessions can also be extremely important. And don’t forget about your EIR! Your entrepreneur-in-residence/advisor/mentor (or whatever you call them) can be critical during this process. They have most likely been in your shoes before and will be able to identify the steps you need to take to get to the next level. If you’re a startup in Northeast Ohio, you are already ahead of the game with a support network filled with experienced entrepreneurs ready to help you achieve your next goal, and set the milestones along the way.
Looking at the forest while also being able to identify the trees is a skill that most of us desire: find the details in the big picture and make it work. Whether you’re an entrepreneur trying to get that startup off the ground or simply someone trying to keep up that New Year’s resolution, setting milestones along the way is bound to make achieving your ultimate goal more attainable and more realistic.