5 Milestones To Hit in Your First 5 Years of Business

5 Milestones To Hit In Your First 5 Years Of Business

As a business coach there is one question I ask all my clients:  “Where do you see your business in 5 years’ time?”

How you answer this question will define how well you do in business.

A common reply I get is “Making lots of money”. This is not a good answer. There isn’t anything here that is measurable. How much is lots? What’s your halfway point? What do you need to adjust or change to make “lots”?

At least making lots of money is a positive. Another answer I get to the five-year vision is “still going”. Luckily with a little bit of structure, it’s easy to turn these around to create working goals.

Having a well-structured goal gives you focus and direction. Without it, you are just going on a pleasure cruise. 

I get that the five-year goal question can be difficult to answer – I’ve been there myself in my first start-up business. In my 20s I had no idea what my business was capable of.  I didn’t want to answer a question about goals that might limit what I could do – or embarrass me if I couldn’t reach them. Rather than driving my business, I let the business drive me. And It was exhausting. 

As I’ve learned and matured in business I have the reins and I’m in full control. It makes it a lot easier to make decisions, plan my workday and delegate the right tasks and workloads to my team. The best part of it is, my team and I are all on the same page and know what we need to be doing and why. 

Why Are 5-year Business Milestones Important?

Why five years, why not two, or ten? There is a reason for a five-year business goal and that’s because only 50% of businesses are going to make it that far. Not because of a lack of passion, it’s usually a lack of structure that means a new business will struggle to scale, prioritise resources or bring in the right assets.

If you can focus and set your sights on clearing that opening five-year hurdle and put a structure in place that will support you, you’ll be in that half that gets to keep their business.

As a business owner, you need to be able to measure your company’s growth. There are plenty of ways to do that, with milestones one of the simplest, most effective and most motivating. 

Imagine a lake with your goal on the other shore. You can spend forever walking around to get there, or you can place stepping stones in a direct line to your destination. Every time you reach a stepping stone, you get to start looking for the next one. 

You can see your progress from where you were and also see the gap to your goal decreasing.

All you need is a tangible, measurable goal and the right milestones to get there.

What are the five milestones you need to reach in early business?

Every business is different and every business owner will have different goals and values. Even still there are five milestones every business can benefit from reaching in the first five years in business.

First repeat sale 3 to 6 Months
Build a strong team1 to 5 years
First profitable quarter1.5 to 3 years
Marketing strategy perfection1.5 to 3 years
Brand recognition2 to 5 years

1. First repeat sale

Repeat customers are invaluable. Finding new customers is an expensive process so it pays to look after the ones you have. Repeat customers are more likely to buy and refer your business to others because they already know and trust you.

Remember that trust is key to securing a sale. 

On a side note, repeat customers are also a pat on the back that you are doing a great job.

To see returned customers you need to put effort into:

  • Engaging and rewarding customer experiences
  • Realistic pricing (don’t go below costs – but don’t look for massive profits either)
  • Providing a range of payment choices
  • Customised services 

You also need to do the work to stay in touch, reward and favour your customer base with:

  • Mailing lists
  • Special offers
  • Tips and information
  • subscriber-only bonuses
  • Newsletters with updates
  • After-sales follow-up
  • Feedback forms
  • Loyalty discounts
  • Requests for reviews

Aiming for one repeat customer in six months is very achievable, if you are doing well it will be more.

2. Build a strong team

Most of us start out as sole traders but wearing all those hats and filling all those hours yourself simply isn’t sustainable. As well as running yourself into burnout you are also limiting your business to your skills and abilities, whereas bringing in an expert or two will lift the ceiling on what your business can achieve.

Lack of funds is the biggest reason you won’t be building a team earlier than the one-year mark, but after this, you will need to recruit to see your business survive.

Make sure you hire carefully. The team you build needs to be in alignment with your business vision, mission, and values. Think about what expert skills your business can benefit from and hire staff that can do what you can’t.

Expanding your team gives your business the ability to expand reach and get more work done to a higher quality.

To keep your team with you, make sure you provide training and development opportunities down the track. They will be one of your company’s biggest assets.

3. First profitable quarter

It’s normal for profits to be a little haywire when you start out. You might be on track to positive cash flow but then have a crazy kind of setback – keep building. Establishing your funds will take time. Money out can be as important as money in – as long as you are smart about where it is going and what the purpose is it will build momentum with time.

That’s why the milestone for the first profitable quarter sits at the 18-month or later mark. Aim for a quarter not a month as this will show your performance more accurately.

Celebrate that first quarter where you see a profit but it might take a little more time to see profits come in for three quarters in a row – that’s your next challenge!

4. Marketing strategy perfection

A marketing strategy has a heap of different elements that all need some trial and error on your part. Getting it to be a sleek and well-performing arm of your business will take experience and time. 

Nailing a marketing strategy comes down to:

  • Knowing your target market
  • Understanding target market needs
  • Being about to communicate how your business helps fill the gap – not just how to communicate but where to find your audience too
  • Making good use of multiple platforms for marketing engagement
  • Checking in with your marketing goals and milestones regularly
  • Making it easy for people to find you (online, in person or by brand)
  • Making the sales process simple and straightforward
  • Seeking out feedback and making the appropriate changes for improvement

Once you have ironed out the issues and have a smooth running campaign, stick to it. At the same time, keep an ear to the ground and be ready to change with your target market and their needs because it’s not going to stay stagnant for the life of your business.

5. Brand recognition

All budding business owners have a far-off dream of being a household name. This step actually needs to come a lot sooner than most realise – within the first five years of business start-up.

You want to be the name people think of first when they need something within your particular industry, and the only way to do that is to be the name people recognise. 

Brand familiarity creates trust, and trust leads to more sales and referrals.

You don’t need to go head-to-head with brands like Nike or Bunnings and be globally known, you simply need to be the local name or local niche that your people look to.

It doesn’t take a million-dollar marketing budget. You can help bolster brand recognition following these steps:

  • Be unique – you want to stand out from your competition
  • Be genuine – having a human persona feels reassuring and also gives people a sense of the owner behind the business
  • Provide quality products and services 
  • Create positive customer experiences 

What do I need to make my business milestones work?

To reach your business milestones effectively you need to break them down into action steps that you address every day or every week. Communicate what you are aiming for and why with your teams and make sure everyone has their individual responsibilities assigned. As well as preventing confusion and doubling up, it also sends a clear message to each of your team manners that they are important and valuable.

Check in regularly and if you are falling short, ask what needs to be changed to get you back on track.

A business coach can help you identify what’s holding you back a lot faster than you will. Having the support of someone who’s been there and done it all before you can really help accelerate your milestone completion timeframes.

Most of all, make sure you celebrate your wins. Acknowledging your success will help push through any challenges you face with the next milestone. Tell yourself it’s possible and savour the progress you make!

Make sure you join our free Facebook group to surround yourself with people who are hitting the 5-year mark, and beyond!

5 Milestones To Hit in Your First 5 Years of Business – FAQs

What are good milestones for a business?

Good milestones for a business will depend on the nature of the business and its goals, but some common milestones may include reaching a certain level of revenue, achieving a specific customer base, launching new products or services, expanding to new markets, and increasing brand recognition. These milestones should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

How do you see your business in 5 years?

In five years, I hope to see my business as a thriving and established brand, with a loyal customer base and a strong reputation in the market. I envision a company that has expanded its offerings, entered new markets, and achieved sustainable growth. I also hope to have a team of dedicated and talented employees who share our values and contribute to our success.

How do you set 5 year business goals?

Setting 5 year business goals requires a clear understanding of the company’s mission, vision, and values, as well as a comprehensive analysis of the market and competition. The goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART), and aligned with the company’s overall strategy. It is also important to break down the goals into smaller milestones and establish a plan of action to achieve them.

What are your goals for the future of your business?

Our goals for the future of our business include expanding our product line, entering new markets, building brand awareness, increasing customer loyalty, and achieving sustainable growth. We also aim to establish a strong corporate social responsibility program and create a positive impact in the communities where we operate.

What is the #1 goal of every business?

The #1 goal of every business is to generate profit and achieve financial sustainability. However, this goal should not come at the expense of other important factors such as ethical business practices, social responsibility, and customer satisfaction. A successful business should strive to balance these objectives and create long-term value for all stakeholders.