Starting a business can feel a bit like plunging into the middle of the ocean, not knowing where to find the nearest island—all without a life raft. 

The truth is, the eureka moment that leads you to a truly great idea is only the first of many important business milestones. The path from business idea to business plan to successful business is rife with uncertainty. So, how do you know if you’re heading in the right direction?

Sometimes the greatest comfort comes from knowing where the next port lies, even if it’s miles away. Below, we share important milestones that most new business owners can expect to encounter in their first year. By milestone, we mean outcome (the result of a set of actions), rather than a checklist for starting a business. Some are cause for celebration, while others are challenges to overcome. Either way, if you’re hitting these business milestones, your journey is on the right course.

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Business milestones: first month

Your first paid marketing effort generates positive ROI

Congrats—you’ve launched your store! Now what? Your single biggest goal this month is to discover a repeatable and profitable approach to marketing.

For most companies with zero brand recognition, the fastest way to get noticed and start acquiring new customers is to launch a paid marketing campaign. The good news is that many paid channels allow you to pay per click, and you can start with a budget as low as $100.

The key is to not give up after one or two failed ads. Keep iterating and testing your ads until you’ve found the right formula of visual and copy to engage your target audience. It’s out there. And while there’s typically a lot of upfront work behind a profitable paid advertising campaign, it can run autonomously in the background once it’s set up.

Another quick way to get your product or brand in front of a relevant audience is by paying someone with an…

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