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As a first-time entrepreneur, your journey will be filled with opportunities for evolution, personal growth and the first taste of what it means to be your own boss. In order to achieve all of the big moments and milestones that come along with that title, you need to be strategic and intentional about your goals.
Without precise, measurable objectives, you lack purpose and structure. Thus, you may struggle to make progress because you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve. Yes, you know you want to be successful, but what does that actually mean? Goals provide clarity about what you’re moving toward, and with that clarity comes a guidebook: “If I want to achieve x, I have to do y.”
Make time to set goals and make them an intrinsic part of your startup’s culture from the very beginning. If you’re not sure where to start, here are four goals that will provide guidance for first-time entrepreneurs. Each one is broken down into even smaller “mini-goals” that will help you make your long-term goals a reality.
Optimize your website
When it comes to marketing, many entrepreneurs will move immediately toward social media. But you don’t own those platforms. You do, however, own your website—and taking a holistic view of your digital presence, which includes a focus on your website, ensures longevity. That’s why your first goal is to optimize your website for search, user experience and mobile.
- Develop your website with user experience in mind: 79 percent of users who don’t like what they find on your site will go back to search and find a different one
- Optimize for mobile. In 2017, mobile devices (excluding tablets) accounted for more than 49 percent of web page views worldwide
- If you are new to SEO, download Yoast SEO, which will do all the heavy lifting for you
Capitalize on customer retention
Your best customers are the ones you already have, assuming they’re satisfied with the quality of deliverables and the value of your service.
Not only are they often eager to share your business with others, but repeat customers spend 67 percent more on a transaction than new customers do, according to Marketing Tech.
That’s why it’s critical that you focus on maintaining customers and making the most of how they can help move your business forward.
- Build a basic referral program. If you don’t know where to start, check out the 7 Steps to Launch a Referral Program from Inc.
- Build a tiered offering that you can upsell to current customers or clients. Once they use one service, what add-ons or extra services come next? If you sell products, this may look more like an upsell email funnel that shares similar products and personalized recommendations
Create efficient processes
Now is the time to troubleshoot and revamp various processes until you figure out which ones are the most efficient. As you’re doing this, consider areas like product development, marketing, financial analysis and human resources. Keep notes about how they can be fine-tuned: What’s taking too much time? What can reasonably be outsourced while staying within budget?
Ultimately, the more streamlined you can operate, the more profitable your organization will be, so make this a focus right away.
- Start using a time-tracking tool like Harvest to track how long each task takes you. If you’re the only employee right now, you’re the only person who can make changes to processes
- Consider planning tools, like Trello, and invoicing software, like QuickBooks, to streamline these areas from the start
Make time for learning
As a new entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. With so much on your plate, things like maintenance and keeping up with the latest trends fall to the wayside. But remember, it’s critical that you stay up-to-date on all spheres related to your area of expertise.
“You need to continue to grow your knowledge of the business and any other business that could impact you. Being at the forefront of the latest industry knowledge will put you in a position for success,” Kevin Sealy, VP of Operations for EPOCH Student Living at Clemson University, said.
This goal is all about being curious and providing the greatest service or product offering to your clients.
- Attend at least one event each quarter, whether that’s a small, local meet-up or a large, industry-wide conference
- Meet with fellow business owners (within your industry and otherwise) regularly. Find a local mastermind group or attend nearby networking events to broaden your network and learn while you do it
Make this a successful first year for your new business
Hold yourself accountable to starting your entrepreneurial journey with clear and actionable goals. With this guide for what you need to accomplish and the smaller goals that will help get you there, you’ll be sure to end the year as a proud business owner.