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9 Important Goals to Hit in Your Startup’s First Year

By: Marsha Kelly


Important Goals to Hit in Your Startups First Year

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and have yearned to start your own business, now is the time. With the highest survival rate in over a decade, approximately 79.9 percent of startup companies are surviving their first year of operations. However, this is no small feat.

As a business owner, you have to be very intentional throughout each step of the process. Setting goals for yourself and your organization will help build the foundation for future growth and ensure first-year survival.

Why Business Goal Setting is Vital, Especially for a Startup

Business planning and goal setting serves as a roadmap to success. Without planning ahead, knowing what you want your organization to look like in five, ten, or even twenty years from now and setting the goals to get there, your chances of survival may be slim. For example, borrowing funds to cover your startup costs but having no plan on how you will repay your investors is a good way to set yourself up for failure.

Let’s take a look at some of the key areas and examples of goals you’ll need to establish to get you through your first year of business.

Sales & Marketing Goals

1. Establish your ideal customer profile

While it may take longer than your first year to truly identify and refine the target audience for your business, it is important that you gain an initial understanding of who would benefit from your good or service. There are some key elements to consider when establishing your ideal customer profile, which will vary some depending on if you are a B2B (Business-to-Business) or B2C (Business-to-Consumer) organization.


  • What industries would likely need or want the good or service you provide?
  • Are there specific personas within these industries that you should target directly (i.e., CFO, Director of IT, etc.)?
  • Does your good or service better serve a specific geographic location or territory?
  • What is the required range of revenue a company should have to afford your good or service?


  • What type of consumers would likely need or want the good or service you provide?
  • Are there specific personas you should target directly (i.e., parents, senior citizens, millennials, etc.)
  • Does your good or service better serve a specific geographic location or territory?
  • Is there a specific income bracket you need to target for your good or service?

2. Develop a marketing and prospecting plan

Once you have a basic understanding of your ideal customer profile, you can begin to develop a marketing and prospecting plan. Paired together, your target market and marketing strategy will assist you in building the proper messaging to convey the benefits you are offering to consumers. Developing a marketing/prospecting plan also includes:

  • Deciding how and when you will reach out to prospects
  • Developing email, social, and ad campaigns
  • Selecting key target accounts for strategic focus

3. Create a website and social media accounts

Creating a website and social media accounts is one of the main ways you will reach your target audience, build brand awareness, and educate consumers on the benefits your good or service provides. It is imperative that you have a firm understanding of your audience and the message you want to get across prior to completing this goal for your landing page conversions.

Your website and social media accounts can be used to showcase educational content and thought leadership, conduct marketing activities, and raise overall brand awareness of your business.

Read more on how to start a blog

Finance Goals

4. Create a sustainable financial budget

As you’re probably aware, sales in your first year of business likely won’t cover your initial startup costs. Therefore, you will need to create a realistic financial budget that will get you through the first year of business and properly manage cash flow. You will need to carefully track your current debt, credit availability, and any repayment to investors. As it should go without saying, avoid frivolous spending and the purchase of unnecessary resources.

5. Earn more than you did at your last desk job

Switching over from the corporate world to owning your own business is an exciting venture but also a challenging one. If you don’t cover all your bases, your first year of business could be a bust. There are certain financial factors you must consider that you probably didn’t have to before, like paying for private health insurance, staffing resources, and other costs of entrepreneurship.

Developing a sustainable sales plan and setting the prices of your goods or services to accompany these outliers will benefit the financial health of your startup and help you and your employees be happy in your workplace.

6. Set a S.M.A.R.T. revenue goal

The first year of your new business may be tricky because you don’t yet have the data to forecast any sales or revenue. Of course, at some point you want to rake in millions upon millions of dollars, but it’s not feasible yet.

Make sure you set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for revenue. In other words, set a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. For example, in your first year of business, your goal might be to increase revenue 20 percent by the end of the fiscal year or to sell “x” amount of business units per month.

Development Goals

7. Always learn new skills

Continuous learning in the long run is a wonderful way to add value to you and your business. Whether it’s learning something new about the industry you’re in, ways to help the community, or teaching yourself about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or analytics, take the time to learn a new skill and always work to become better. It increases your value and ultimately increases the worth of your organization as well. Although you may learn new skills, like SEO, you can still outsource work to agencies like Big Fat Links to specialize in niche edits to drive more traffic to your company’s website.

8. Know how you want your business to develop

There are business development goals, aside from increasing sales and revenue, that will help you grow your business. Identifying how many locations or employees you’d like to have by a certain date in time or the size of the office will allow you to align your financial goals to meet the future needs of your company. You can also begin to forecast that once these resources are obtained, how much more financial gain is achievable as well.

9. Employee training

Employee training and development is often overlooked in a new business, but it is more than necessary. Your workforce is your #1 resource in sustaining your new business, making it vital to ensure they are content and invested in the organization. Take the time to find out the goals and motivations for each employee and do what you can to assist them in working toward these aspirations. It will give you the productivity and loyalty your business needs to survive its first few years.


Setting goals for your business will set you up for success. Align your dreams with specific, measurable goals, and you will achieve tangible success. With that being said, it’s time to get to work. I challenge you to write down your specific goals and strategies for the points mentioned above, monitor your progress, and report back on how it has helped your startup business. Best of luck!

Published: August 16, 2019

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Marsha Kelly

Marsha Kelly sold her first business for more than a million dollars. She has shared hard-won experiences as a successful serial entrepreneur on her Best4Businesses blog, where she also regularly posts business tips, ideas, and suggestions as well as product reviews for business readers. As a serial entrepreneur who has done “time” in corporate America, Marsha has learned what products and services really work well in business today. You can learn from her experiences from shopping the internet for tools, supplies, and information to build your businesses and improve lives financially. Follow @bestforbusinesses on Twitter and Facebook.

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