Running a startup is both exciting and challenging. There is excitement from creating a new business that adds value to the market. It is also invigorating to see your sales, users, clients and team grow. However, there are some very real challenges to running a startup.
For example, the stress of trying to do so much yourself. The demands to get things done in a cost effective and efficient way. There is also the challenge of the competition in the market as you try to carve out a space for yourself.
It’s true the running a startup isn’t easy. That’s why it helps to have clear goals when starting up. Having clear business goals for your startup can help keep you focus and motivated. They will help you know if you’re on the right track.
Having startup goals is also important as a way to avoid making mistakes. There have been countless startups through history that doomed themselves by not having clear objectives while scaling.
But what type of business goals should you be setting for your startup? In this article, you’ll be introduced to 7 great examples of startup goals you can set when establishing a new business.
Identify Your Ideal Customer
Businesses wouldn’t get very far if they focused on attracting “just anyone” with their products and services. Although it may seem counterintuitive to narrow your target audience, it’s been proven time and time again to be more effective than “casting a wide net”.
Trying to please everyone results in pleasing nobody. Instead, identify your ideal customer. Envision the ideal exchange between your brand and the individual and work towards that specific dynamic.
There are some tried and true methods you can use to help identify and reel in your ideal audience. Study your company’s current demographics regarding customers – if there’s a certain type of person you don’t want to cater toward, try out marketing techniques that they might not be interested in. Conversely, identify the people you do want to buy your product and study their behaviors.
It’s not enough to know what your customers want to buy – you also need to understand where and how they prefer to shop. If your target demographic spends more time on Instagram, for example, it may be time to create a company profile and open up that outlet for advertisement.
Learn about how your target audience thinks. Understand their goals and their fears, and employ those feelings in your marketing campaigns.
For example, a bridal company may target women aged 25-40. It may use Instagram to post bridal photos, as that’s a huge community online. Knowing that the target audience in this case wants the perfect wedding, and fears things like bad photos and unappealing decor, can equip this brand to focus on building a better customer experience.
Narrowing down your target market and ideal customer should actually be a first year goal for any business. Doing so will save a lot of time and effort if done correctly.
Create a Minimum Viable Product
One example of a startup business goal you should set is to identify and create a minimum viable product. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a minimum viable product, or MVP for short, is defined as the simplest version of your product that will interest customers.
Your MVP should be a simple product, designed as a starter for your company, which holds enough value to generate interest from customers – the key here is that this product’s purpose isn’t to sell. The purpose of your MVP is to explore concepts and gain feedback.
For example, if someone wants to start a toy business, they may create two different types of toys to test out different design concepts. Let’s call them Toy A and Toy B. The entrepreneur may notice that Toy A sells much faster. But, customers leave reviews and comments indicating they want a new feature, like a different color. Toy B, on the other hand, hasn’t sold whatsoever. In this situation, the entrepreneur must digest this feedback and refine their product further to entice future sales.
Don’t be afraid of the process. Entrepreneurship is often depicted in the media as being a quick and easy scheme, but it’s nothing like that in reality. It may take you hundreds of iterations of a single product to refine it in such a way that it becomes a hit. Using customer feedback, however, can ensure that you’re taking that product in the right direction.
Find Funding for Your Startup
When starting a new business, it can be easy to get lost in the excitement of all the new opportunities and overlook some of the practical steps that make the dream come to life. One of the most overlooked – yet most important – aspects of starting a business is finding funding.
78% of small business owners fund their endeavors exclusively from their own personal income. That may account at least in part for the number of small businesses which fail within their first few years. According to Score, 82% of small businesses fail directly due to lack of funding and/or cash flow.
If you’ve convinced yourself you can single-handedly pay to keep your own small business afloat, you’re setting yourself up for failure. The goal of your business is to eventually turn a profit – which will quickly become impossible if you feed it from your own pockets. It will create an endless cycle of paying to keep your business afloat. Business expenses are no joke, and you don’t want your company to become a hole in the ground you throw money into.
There are many ways companies can access funding for small businesses, ranging from gifts from family and friends to government loans and grants. A great goal for your startup could be finding a source of income that can keep your vision afloat. You can check out some government small business resources here.
Build Brand Identity
Customers respond to authenticity. A brand that has a distinct image and personality will outsell its bland competitors in no time. Take the time to develop your brand. Create a logo and a website that reflect your company’s values, and style to attract the type of customers you want to buy from you.
People can tell when a company is shallow and lacks personality. Authenticity and being relatable to your customers will go a long way in helping them feel even further connected with your brand. 57% of customers who feel connected with their favorite brands will increase spending on their products, and better yet, 76% of them will choose your company over a competitor.
Your brand identity is what gives your business personality. Once you land the creatives that help give your company some uniqueness, use them over all your marketing materials, website, and social profiles.
Control Burn Rate
Your company’s “burn rate” describes how quickly your business consumes its cash reserves, or funding before you’ve turned a profit. In the early stages of your business, you might not see any profit for quite some time. Most small businesses don’t generate a profit until around the 1-year mark, sometimes even later.
As a startup, the odds are stacked against you. So you need a winning strategy to come out on top. Keeping track of your company’s burn rate can also be a great way to identify how successful your venture currently is, and it can also help predict future success. Many investors use burn rate statistics to decide whether a business is worth an investment.
Ideally, a successful business should have about 6-12 months of expenses on hand. If you’re not there yet, don’t worry! With the right planning, you can be.
Here are some ways you can reduce your burn rate:
- Increase revenue (via sales, ads, and marketing)
- Reduce payroll expenses
- Ditch unprofitable products/services
- Stop offering credit
- Sell excess inventory (maybe at a reduced price)
- Try fundraising
Expand Your Team
Another key startup business goal to set is that or growing your team. No man is an island, and that goes doubly for entrepreneurs. Even if you’re confident in your experience and skills within your industry, there are monumental benefits to having a team at your disposal. Where you may fail to see something, a team member may have some unique insight. Their unique perspective can change everything.
Having team members on board with your business idea presents a few new challenges, such as payroll and the occasional conflict of ideas. However, if you can put together a group of qualified, passionate individuals, the sky’s the limit.
One of the most important things to remember is not to just hire family and friends or people you get along with. You want to make sure you’re hiring professional people who can realistically apply their expertise to your company’s growth. One great goal for a new business is to start looking for valuable assets you can welcome on board.
Execute Your Marketing Plan
Kellogg’s, the famous breakfast cereal company, was created in 1906 by a doctor working at a mental asylum. Its inventor, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, sought to create a cereal that was intentionally bland and flavorless. Despite its strange origins, the cereal was very popular among patients, and the Kellogg family decided to offer it to the general public.
Although sales initially struggled, soon Kellogg’s tried out a brave new idea: offering free toys inside cereal boxes to entice customers – specifically, children. From there, it was marketed as a breakfast choice for children across America.
Needless to say, the plan was a vast success. Children across the country clamored to get their hands on the colorful, fun toys offered exclusively within Kellogg’s breakfast cereal, and eventually, it became a staple in American households. To this day, the cereal industry thrives and continues to offer fun new ways to enjoy its products.
This is an example of excellent and adaptive marketing. The takeaway here is that no matter what you’re selling or why you’re selling it, you won’t be able to do it without decent marketing. Likewise, with the right marketing, you can truly sell anything – even cereal that’s intentionally flavorless.
Use what you know about your customers to push your product. Consider things such as their social media habits, preferences, and style. Market towards that ideal customer you identified earlier in the article. Rather than wait around for the right person to discover your brand by happenstance, take charge and try something new. You just might be the next Kellogg’s.
Running a startup doesn’t have to be rocket science. But it does require determination, patience, and excellent planning. Putting together a winning strategy takes time and effort. However, it’s worth it in the long run. Learn how to set business goals during the early days of your startup.