Friday, July 17, 2009

Start-up Tip: Set Your Time Line for Growth

You've heard the expression, "It's all in the timing." That can be applied to a lot of things, hitting a tennis ball, catching a wave when you're surfing, starting new plants in the spring, or starting a business and growing.

Most entrepreneurs are surprised at how long it can take to start a business. But think about it, there are many, many details that have to be worked out and executed after you have the big idea. That's why a detailed plan can help you get on -- and stay on -- the right track.

Begin with the end in mind. Where do you want to be in five years? Three? Two? One? Work backward from that and think about all the milestones you have to hit in order to arrive at your idea of success. Write up the milestones and outline a plan for meeting each one. If you're working with other people, make sure that you are all on the same wavelength and share the mutual goals and the methodology for meeting them. Figure out how long it will take to meet each one. Make a time line.

If you have investors or creditors, make sure that understand your milestones and time lines and buy into them. Most investors or creditors will be willing to put more money into your business (or expect payback) when you reach mutually agreed upon milestones.

While you're setting the milestones, set up metrics by which you'll measure your progress toward meeting them. This could be sales figures or other hard data about your consumers or customers and their response to your service or product.

Keep your eyes on the goal, and go for it!

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