As the Chinese proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Startups are a perfect example of a thousand-mile journey that must be broken down into small (yet crucial) steps. At this point, your destination may feel far away or even out of sight, but with a few simple tips, you’ll soon be a bit closer to your goal.

Develop Your Vision

Many times the best way to move forward with a project is to envision the future and then work backward from it. Where do you want this venture to be in five or 10 years? How do you want to contribute to your community in the long run? Answering these questions will help you narrow down your focus and figure out the logistics needed to get there. The more specific you can be, the better. Make sure that your idea meets an unfulfilled need or improves upon an existing service or product.

Choose Your People

Even though you are the one at the forefront of your venture, you must surround yourself with people who understand and will advocate for your vision. These people should resonate with your ideas and be able to share practical suggestions and perhaps offer their own qualities and expertise in areas where you are lacking. They could be your friends (however, realize there’s always risk in mixing personal and business relationships) or professionals whom your friends recommend. With a quality team on board, you’ll feel that much more confident to launch your startup.

Listen to Your Critics

Well, don’t listen to all of your critics. Some won’t have your best interest in mind and you certainly can’t please everyone all of the time – but those who do offer constructive criticism are valuable to the success of startups. One idea is to conduct regular surveys so that your customers can have a way to express their feedback. Not only will you receive some helpful advice for how you can do better, but your customers will also appreciate knowing that you are listening to them and considering how best to serve them. It’s a win-win situation.

Take Your First Steps

Remember that it’s always effective to look around at what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. Some of your top resources are your imagination (which will allow you to envision the future), the people in your life (who may have wisdom or experience that will prove helpful as you move forward), and your thoughtful critics (who will push you to do your very best). Now you’re ready to take those first steps on your thousand-mile journey.