Though it’s important for every business owner to make goals, it is especially important for vegan business owners because we occupy a unique space. As vegans, we often find ourselves in emerging markets. We’re in places where there are no traditional paths – we’re pioneers! Maybe you’re the first vegan restaurant or store in your area, or maybe you’re offering an alternative product to the status quo.
Because vegan entrepreneurs are often working in uncharted territory, the process of setting out clear goals is a very important one. When you’re working in an emerging market, there’s not a lot of data, content, research, or information available for you to leverage. You will find yourself doing a lot of leg work – for example, benchmarking – inside and outside your world. And when you’re starting something completely new, putting goals in place makes it easier for you to stay on target.
It’s so easy to get distracted by the excitement of a new and innovative business, easy to fall in love with the idea of being a pioneer in everything you do, but if you choose that route you may start to dilute your efforts as you try to do everything cutting edge. Setting goals, and sticking to them, will help you to avoid trying to accomplish more than is reasonable.
There are some specific areas where setting goals can be especially important for new vegan businesses, and I want to address a few of them here:
The Realities of Bootstrapping
Because of the challenges of finding funding for veg businesses, bootstrapping is a reality for many new vegan entrepreneurs. You may be funding your startup with money you’ve saved, or supporting your startup with a part-time job. This is not sustainable long term, so you really need to make sure you know what’s successful in your business, so you can repeat that. By the same token, you need to know what your mistakes were, so you can avoid making them again. Setting and documenting goals is a great way to keep track of these things.
Many vegan business owners find the funding piece challenging. It can be a lot harder to access “traditional” funding opportunities like a VC or angel investors when you are in an emerging market. This means it’s extra important for you to set and reach specific goals and document your success. Many of you may be thinking that you’d like to get an investor to expand your business down the line. For example, maybe you have a food truck and you’d like to franchise them out eventually.
If you start to put goals in place now, and create a good track record of achieving those goals, you will have a great growth story that will work to your advantage if you are looking for funds in the future. It’s very important to start this process now, even if it’s documentation you’re going to use in the future.
Goal-Setting Increases Success Rates
When you set out your goals and make an effort to document your progress, you will start to see patterns. You can look back at the goals you set at the beginning of the year, and begin to understand which ones yielded the results you wanted, and which ones did not.
This will help you understand the efficiency of your business, in particular the resource gaps you might have that are stopping you from reaching your goals, or other obstacles that get in your way. Some people think they can just keep all of this ‘in mind’, but by documenting it, (on paper or using an online tool), it is much easier to stay organized and recognize patterns. This will help you not only succeed, but expand your business in the future.
Hopefully that gives you some food for thought. I know it can be hard to put the time aside for planning and goal setting when there is so much else to do. But don’t make the mistake of skipping this step – if you get serious about goal setting and documentation from the beginning you will be one step ahead of the game when it comes to creating a sustainable long-term vegan business.
If you have had trouble sticking to goal-setting in the past, make a list of three reasons this activity is important for your business. Be specific. Paste these reasons somewhere visible in your office and pencil a time into your calendar to get started.