When you run a small business, you always feel like you're catching up. There's always another task to complete, a project to finish... as we've said before, the proverbial list goes on. But it's important that you don't miss the milestones. Without identifying your small business milestones, you'll miss two things. First, you'll not have a good sense of progress and growth. Second, you'll find yourself missing the sweetness of why you're on this mission in the first place.
So the natural question is, "What are my small business milestones?"
Short answer: no business will have the exact same. But there are a few universal truths you can peg on your bulletin board and say, "When I get there, I'm going to take a moment and soak it in."
Your First Customer
Ever walk into a deli or a restaurant and see that framed dollar bill on the wall? It symbolizes that first revenue moment. But for most businesses today, there's a good chance that first revenue moment is electronic. A debit card swiped. An ecom order processed. The point is, there's a good chance that you'll have put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears before you officially open for business. And that's why it's so important to savor the moment you land that first customer, client, patron... whatever you want to call it. Getting even more micro, savor that first invoice! That's a serious small business milestone that you should revisit often.
Your First Hire
Whether it's a contractor, intern, part-timer, or full-time employee, your first hire is a big moment, in a variety of ways. Making a first hire is a leap of faith—after all, hiring is one of the hardest things to do when it comes to running a small business. But for a lot of entrepreneurs, the first hire feels counterintuitive. You got in business for yourself to do your own thing, right? How's someone else going to do it too? That said, if you want to grow, you can't be all things. You can't be the rainmaker, the work-doer, the back office... You'll need help.
So when you're current and forecasted finances say you're ready to hire, the workload is there, and you've found the right person, pull the trigger and recognize just how significant a milestone this is. Then get back to work.
Your First Failure
We probably don't need to tell you this, but failure is a part of entrepreneurship. Any successful small business who tells you they've never failed at anything is lying. Whether it's a customer lost, a project botched, or a gamble lost, failure is OK. Why? Because you learn from it. That time you shipped inventory without protective packaging and the customer ripped you on Yelp? Never again. Or that time you gave a client half-assed advice because you were rushing to a meeting and they made an ill informed decision? You'll always be more thoughtful.
When you fail, the worst thing you can do is try to ignore it and sweep it under the rug. Embrace it, learn from it, and then move on.
Your First "I'm Making More Than I Ever Did Working for Somebody Else" Moment
This. This is the feeling you've been waiting for. You knew the financial risks of going out on your own. You knew you'd likely not see a salary for six, maybe 12 months. You were prepared for it. You had enough personal savings socked away that you and yours would be OK for a while. Then your business turned a profit. Then it turned a bigger profit. Then came the year that you saw more revenue than you ever made in a year, personally.
There is no moment like this. Drink it in.
So whether you call them small business milestones or simply life milestones, define them. Envision them. And then, when you achieve them, pause and be thoroughly present in them.