I recently had a major goal and planning session for my business. I felt wide awake at 12:30am and decided to sit down with a blank Google Doc and really think about where I wanted to be by the end of next year.
It was pretty daunting and I struggled to get started. But, once I did, the words flew out of me like Buckbeak flew outta Hogwarts - and it felt great!
I know first-hand how hard it is to really think about what your goals are and the challenges of putting them into writing, so I wanted to pull together an ultimate guide for you to do the same for your business.
Keep reading to learn how to set goals for your small or creative business and why it’s so important!
Why you need to set goals
If you’re not used to setting goals for your business, you might be reading this thinking ‘bleugh, what a waste of time. I’m doing just fine without ‘em!’
I used to think the same.
I thought, what’s the point in setting goals - it’s not going to make me work harder or make any more money. It’s not going to help me get to where I want to be.
Oh, gal was I wrong.
Here are 5 reasons you NEED to be setting goals for your business:
- Accountability. By writing your goals down, you are holding yourself accountable to achieving them. It may sound silly, but believe me, it works. Last Monday, I set 5 weekly goals (which I’ll get onto later) I wanted to achieve by Friday night - and I did it! All 5 goals were checked off and I felt great about it!
- Gratification. Just like I said, when you reach a goal, you’ll feel amazing about it. Big goals, little goals - a goal is a challenge and every time you complete it, you’ll feel accomplished and it will make you super happy you set goals in the first place.
- Motivation. That feeling of gratification won’t come out of nowhere. Nope. Goals will keep you motivated and on the right track to get to where you want to be. If ‘past Zoe’ set a goal to reach a certain number of new clients in a month, then ‘present Zoe’ really should stop scrolling through Facebook. You see what I mean?
- Progress. When you have something to work towards, you will actually make great progress in your business. Goals also help you measure your progress - when you achieve one, you can set a larger one, and so on. It helps you understand how fast your business is growing and goals can act as a warning sign if you’re not achieving them on time.
- Focus. Once you’ve set yourself some biz goals, you’ll feel super focused. You’ll know what you’re working towards in your business, and you can stop flying from one idea to the next. The more goals you set yourself, the less focus you’ll have so take it easy if this is your first time!
Tips before you get started
Before you start your mammoth goal-planning sesh, you’re going to want to make sure you’re ready to think clearly and realistically about your small business.
Clear your mind
Go for a walk. Take a long bath. Listen to calming music. Make sure your mind is free of worry and stress so you can completely focus on your business.
Get somewhere quiet
I know this can be hard for some, but try to find a quiet spot before you get started on planning your goals.
Turn off your devices and notifications
You want to be in a distraction free zone, folks. That means phones away. Tabs closed. TV off. You get the jist.
If you have anything that makes you feel super focused, do it now. I love drinking a cup of coffee to get me into the work zone (even at stupidly unhealthy hours of the day). Whatever it is that gets you into the right mindset, take the time to do it before you move onto the next step.
Realise your ‘why’
When setting goals, it’s easy to get lost in the nitty gritty and forget about your ‘why’.
Your ‘why’ is the reason you are running your business in the first place - it should be a deep-rooted purpose and much more personal than just about making money.
It could be that you want to have control over your lifestyle. You want to be your own boss because you love having a say in what you do and when you do it.
Maybe you want to travel more and live that laptop lifestyle every entrepreneur dreams of.
Perhaps you’re ‘why’ is more family focused - you want to be around the house more to help your children with their homework, or see your baby girl take her first steps. You’re sick of missing out on everything and you want to be there for them.
On the other hand, your ‘why’ could be based on self-care. You have days where you can barely get out of bed, let alone go to an office job. You work hard every day so you know you’re going to be fine when you don’t want to work at all.
Your ‘why’ should be the reason behind every decision you make in your business. If you ever come to a crossroads and one path leads you away from your ‘why’, head in the other direction, my friend - even if it’s not the easiest path to take.
Think about the big picture
Okay, so you’ve defined your ‘why’, now you need to think about your big picture goals. These should be large targets you want to achieve by the end of the year.
I can’t tell you what your company goals should be, but here are some ideas that might get your cogs turning:
- Set an income goal. If you want to make a certain amount next year, go ahead and write it down.
- Set a goal based on sales or bookings. You may be focused on the number of clients or customers you get instead of the amount of money they bring in. If you want to work with 10 new clients in the next 6 months, or you want to sell to 5 customers overseas, they are great goals to start with.
- Set a reputation goal. Want to be recognised for your expertise or become to go-to gal for something in your niche? Yaaas, get ambitious and write it down as a goal for next year!
- Set a growth goal. If you want your Instagram following to reach a certain number or your want your email list to grow by 50%, add this to your list of big-picture goals.
These are just ideas but you know your business and your current situation best.
Break these big goals down into smaller goals
Okay, you’ve got your big picture goals - now you just need to think about how you’re going to achieve them!
I like to break my big goals down into 2 or 3 ‘mini goals’ (or objectives). These mini goals will just help you clarify exactly how you’re going to reach your big-picture goals!
For example, if you want to sell 10 of your highest priced packages in 2017, you might want to create a free email course that reaches 200 students, create a Facebook group that reaches 500 members and add 5 past clients to your referral scheme. You get me?
To help you define your business objectives, get started by answering these 5 simple questions:
- What steps do you need to take in order to reach this big picture goal?
- What obstacles will be in your way and how will you overcome them?
- How many of your products or services do you need to sell in order to reach this goal?
- How many new clients or customers do you need in order to reach this goal?
- Do you need to write a certain number of blog posts/appear on podcasts/present webinars/etc to achieve this goal? If so, how many?
Of course, these questions might not apply to your goals or your business but they should help you get started!
Your goals need to be SMART
I feel like I’m back in Business class but this is an extremely important step in the goal setting process.
With every mini goal you set, make sure they are SMART.
Specific. Have you detailed the who’s, what’s, how’s, why’s and when’s? Get as specific as you can for each goal you set. You don’t want it to be super vague.
Measurable. Can you easily track the progress of this goal? If you have a goal to reach a certain number of product orders, this is easy to measure. One of my big picture goals is to be seen as an expert in influencer marketing but I have made it measurable by setting smaller goals alongside it (i.e. be invited to speak on 2 podcasts).
Attainable. How realistic is this goal for your business? It’s great to dream big but don’t aim for the stars if you haven’t built your spaceship yet. By the same token, don’t make your goals super duper easy to attain - you won’t actually benefit much from really easy to achieve goals.
Relevant. Remember your ‘why’? Think about if your goal is relevant to your ‘why’ and if it is inline with your vision for your business. Is your goal consistent with your other goals? Do they all link together well?
Timely. Your goal should include a time limit. When do you want to achieve your aim by? Within 30 days, six months, a year? Getting specific about your timescale will help you focus your tasks, which will help you with your time-management skills!
Set weekly goals each Monday
Since working out my goals for next year, I’ve realised how much of a #goaldigger I am and I’ve decided to start setting four or five goals for my blog and business each Monday morning.
This takes me around 5 minutes to think about and write down but it saves me so much time in procrastination and gives me an invaluable level of focus each week.
Examples of weekly goals could be:
- Post on Instagram once per day this week
- Write one 1,500 word blog post
- Finish one module of new e-course
- Gain one new client
- Start on marketing plan for business
- Update 5 old blog posts
And so on, and so forth!
I wasn’t sure how much setting weekly goals would help or whether it would even be worth the time - but it’s honestly been so rewarding to achieve them all! It feels like I’m progressing with my business and getting one step closer to my big end-of-year goals!
How to keep track of your goals
Depending on the type of goals you have, you might want to create a visual aid to help you keep track of your progress.
You can track how close you are to achieving a goal by creating an outline that you fill in whenever you get one step closer. Bleurgh, that didn’t really make much sense - did it?
Let me give you an example!
If you want to sell 100 spots on your first e-course, you could draw a 10x10 grid on a large piece of card and fill in one of the squares whenever anyone enrolls in your course. Gradually, as students enroll, your grid will fill up and you’ll feel more and more accomplished! You could even use different colours for each square to make it bright and colourful!
Here are a few other ideas on how to track your goals:
- Create a spreadsheet or Gantt chart to track your progress
- Use a chalkboard to write your big and small goals and cross off each goal you achieve
- Get creative with colourful post-it notes on a whiteboard - move goals from ‘aims’ to ‘achievements’ columns when you reach them
- Create a certain number blank profiles for clients you want to book - each time you book a new client, illustrate the outline to represent your new client!
Okay, that last one was kinda silly but I still like the idea ;)
Basically, tracking your process has two distinct advantages. It acts as a visual reminder for you to keep motivated and stay on track to achieving your goals. Plus, it acts as a reminder of how much you have achieved when you start to reach your goals!
It’s a win-win scenario!
Tell me about your goals
I really hope this guide was helpful for you to think about setting business goals.
I’d love to hear what your goals are for your business in 2017 and how you hope to achieve them! Let me know in the comments and we can have a chat about it :)
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