When you first start your own business, you’re likely to be pretty excited by the fact that you are now an official entrepreneur, and are taking active steps to rule your own future, and be your own boss.

It is sometime after first getting the idea in your head to start a business, however, that you are likely to really come across the milestones that will give you the deepest sense of satisfaction and pride in what you’re doing.

These milestones are precious, because they help you to stay driven and motivated to keep moving forward, and give you the kind of positive affirmation that is so important for validating your efforts in the first place.

So, here are a few small business milestones to work for, look forward to, and prepare for.

The day you are able to quit your day job

This particular milestone is one that people often expect will come immediately, although it often comes much later in the game, if at all.

In any case, the day you are finally able to quit your day job and focus on your small business full-time, is the moment you truly become free from the world of conventional work, and become your own boss in earnest.

Of course, some people quit their day jobs at the very start of their entrepreneurial journeys, particularly if they have a decent amount of money saved up.

In that case, you should consider the specific milestone to be – the point at which the income from your business allows you to pay the bills and live, without having to take side jobs, or dip into your savings.

Small businesses will often be started as side gigs, so this particular milestone can be a really emotional confirmation that you’re on the right path.

The moment when you hire your first employee

Depending on the particular nature of your business, this stage may come early, or it may never come at all.

Assuming that your business follows a certain trajectory from “solo” to “big enough to require staff,” however, the moment when you have to look up ELMO Software to hire your first employee can be a significant milestone.

It’s at this point that your business will likely transform from feeling like a purely self-employed venture, to feeling like a real company in its own right, that is every bit as structured as the big players in your industry.

There’s also a lot of weight behind managing other people, and striving to be a great boss.

The day when you surpass your earnings at your old job

Even once you’ve begun earning enough from your business to support yourself without having to keep a day job, there is likely to be something of an internal “challenge” that you’re pursuing, of trying to surpass your earnings at your old job.

If and when you hit that milestone, you’ll likely be in the best financial state you’ve ever been in, with all the promise in the world that the trajectory remains upward from that point on.

Suffice to say, this is a reassuring situation to be confronted by.

To find out more about my journey in starting my own business take a look at my book, The Five Year Mark.