Tony Robbins, an American businessman, author, and philanthropist once very aptly said, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” It is these well-defined goals or milestones that help turn dreams into a reality. Be it a fitness goal, a new career move, or bigger financial aspirations, if followed through, they keep us on track to achieve what would otherwise have only seemed a distant dream.
So, for entrepreneurs in particular, who have set ambitious goals for themselves, a regular review of the successes and failures and setting new milestones helps to keep the momentum going. Though launching a startup and running it is pretty much an all consuming process, it is not enough to realize the ultimate vision you have set out to accomplish. So you need to break up the vision into short-term measurable goals that can be monitored from time to time, and take corrective steps, if needed, to ensure that the startup remains on track.
In highly competitive and volatile market conditions, running a tight ship is the need of the hour for an entrepreneur. This is only possible, if clear cut milestones are set up annually to steer the team through the challenges, surprises, and evolutionary pains, which every startup faces in its journey. These milestones, if defined and communicated clearly, and reiterated from time to time, ensure that everyone is driven by a common sense of purpose, thus enhancing the impact of their collective effort.
Why annual milestones?
It is important for entrepreneurs to set up new annual milestones in the context of the organisation’s performance in the months gone by and the long term goals of the startup. Such an analysis can only be done when a startup has been working towards its annual milestones.
Working backwards from annual milestones compels an entrepreneur to set up regular and short term goals to achieve that milestone. This helps break down the vision into clear monthly and quarterly targets for the founder and the team to work towards. Micro planning gives a startup clarity on what the next goal is, and what needs to be done everyday to achieve it. It is also a good indicator for measuring a company’s progress along the way.
Long term milestones are not enough
This roadmap of regular tasks and occasional goals is the key to achieving the milestones of a startup. It is very easy to lose sight of the long term goals in the absence of annual milestones, which serve as a guiding factor. If the only milestones available are set too far into the future, a startup may not be able to adapt to its changing environment over a long time period.
As the environment around a startup evolves, annual milestones help in adapting faster to the new conditions by taking the necessary action to stay on top of the game. When the annual review happens to set up new milestones for the coming year, an entrepreneur gets the window to tweak the original plan in the new milestone and accommodate new market conditions.
The recent demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes in India is a good example of how sudden surprises could crop up for startups. In this case, the e-tailers, whose major chunk of revenue came from the cash on delivery (COD), saw a drop in revenue. On the other hand, e-tailers who had already invested in e-wallet tie-ups, envisioning a digital future, have been witnessing a jump in digital payment orders.
When to set up annual milestones?
To set off on the right foot, with the right momentum from the starting block, the annual business plan has to be ready much in advance for the duration that it’ll be applicable. It will take quite a few reviews, discussions and modifications before being finalised.
To aim for success when putting down the annual milestones, make sure they are achievable. If they seem too unrealistic, scale them down till they seem more realistic. Milestones, after all, are made to ultimately help to achieve your goals.
So, just in case you haven’t set the milestones for your startup yet, it’s not too late yet to make a start. Remember, this basic groundwork can set the pace for your progress in the coming times.
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