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Setting goals for your business is one of those tasks that we tend to put off.

We think that we know in our minds where we want things to go and how we want our businesses to flourish and grow. There seems to be little point in setting time aside to think even more about the subject.

But that’s where you’re wrong!

Every business needs goals if it’s going to be successful. And that’s what this post is all about! We’ll start with why your business needs to have goals and then how to go about setting them.

1. Motivation

Whether you’re new to your biz or you’ve been working in it for years, your business needs to have a purpose. For some, it will be as simple as paying the bills each month. For others, it will be about being able to stay at home with their children, or being able to do exactly what you love to do every single day.

Having a clear purpose gives you the motivation to keep going when times get tough (and trust me, they will from time to time). And that purpose is what will form the basis of your goals – every goal you set will lead to that overall purpose.

I have my “purpose” up on the wall in my office so that every time I’m feeling tired or like things aren’t worthwhile, I can look up and remember why I’m doing this.

2. Focus

Having goals for your business will help you stay focus and on track for your overall purpose.

One of the biggest challenges I faced when I first started out on this journey was wanting to do EVERYTHING. I had so many ideas and I wanted to do them all NOW.

Having big ideas, drive and that level of excitement for something is amazing. Trying to do all of those things at the same time is not. You’ll soon find yourself switching between projects and ideas and never finishing any of them. That can start a bit of a downward spiral because you feel like a failure for being unable to complete anything and then you start doubting everything! Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic, but you know what I mean!

If you set your goals in the right way (more on that later!) you’ll have a plan in place, with a fixed order to do things in. I’m not saying you can’t do everything you want to, but having a plan in place that helps you make sense of those ideas and when to work on them will increase your productivity massively! (And you’ll actually start completing things rather than just starting them)

Put simply, better focus = more progress.

3. Growth

This follows on nicely from the point above (it’s almost like I planned this post out before I wrote it!!)

When you know your purpose and you are able to focus on different elements of your business, you’ll start to see growth. There are two main reasons for this:

Firstly, you will actually be working on the right things. You won’t be wasting time on tasks that aren’t working towards your purpose AND you won’t be trying to work on #allofthethings at the same time so you’ll actually be able to dedicate time and energy to those important tasks.

Secondly, you will be able to see your growth. Without having goals, you can’t possibly know if you’re making any progress or growing your biz! By setting benchmarks you will be able to track and analyse your progress against them.

4. Your sanity

Running a business can be tough. Especially if you’re a solopreneur and manage every part of your business yourself.

Goals will help you stay sane (I say help – I’m not making any promises here!)

As I mentioned above, without goals, it’s easy to try and take on too much. And, unfortunately, that leads to burnout. I see it a lot with business owners just starting out. They go in, guns blazing, trying to do everything all at once and they get burnt out.

When you’re the only person in your business, if you’re burnt out and can’t work, your business stops functioning. It’s that simple. Even if you’ve been proactive and planned some things out ahead of time, things will slow down and progress will start to taper off.

There’s also this small issue of overwhelm as a business owner.

There have been so many mornings where I’ve woken up, thought about everything that I need to get done and felt completely overwhelmed. So overwhelmed, in fact, that I’ve just decided to do nothing at all. Kind of counter-productive, right?

When you have goals in place, you know exactly where you are heading all of the time. This really helps with the overwhelm, especially if you’re setting bite-sized goals that are achievable (again, there’s more on this in a min).

5. Accountability and gratification

When you work for yourself, there’s no manager or boss looking over your shoulder. There’s no one there making sure that you’re actually getting stuff done. There’s no judgmental colleagues glaring at you when you come back from your 4-hour lunch break!

So, by writing down your goals, you hold yourself accountable. If those goals don’t get met, there’s no one else to blame but yourself. And, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably pretty hard on yourself when it comes to your biz and getting stuff done!

On the other hand, when you absolutely smash your goals, that’s all you too! Yep, you get ALL of the glory! Time to pop that champagne!

The feeling of being able to tick things off your list and meet your goals week after week, month after month, is amazing and will do a lot towards that motivation I spoke about earlier.

How to set business goals the right way

So, now you know why you need to set goals for your business, let’s get on to how.

It might sound silly – surely you just write down what you want to achieve and then start working towards it?

If you did that, you’d end up in the same position as before – having lots of ideas and dreams but no logical way of approaching them. I know that goals are meant to challenge you (otherwise there wouldn’t be any growth), but their main aim is to help you make progress.

Before you get started

The idea of setting big goals for your business is pretty exciting. Getting out your not-so-secret stash of notebooks, highlighters and pens, and getting your ideas down onto paper is thrilling. Okay, maybe not to everyone, but it certainly is to me. And that makes it really difficult not to just jump in head first and get carried away.

Make sure that, for each of the steps below, you really take some time to think about them and that you carry out your goal-setting process somewhere that you can really focus and don’t feel distracted or rushed.

1. Know your “why”

I mentioned your purpose right at the start of this post. That’s your “why”

Your “why” or your purpose is essentially your end goal. It’s what you should be thinking about every time you do anything related to your business. From making decisions to setting these goals, you should always be asking yourself if it brings you closer to your “why”. If the answer is “no”, then chances are, what you are doing isn’t right for your business.

2. Know your skills and limits

This is probably one of my biggest business downfalls.

I’m not realistic about what I can actually achieve.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t spread into client work – I’m not sitting here telling clients I have experience in X, Y and Z when I actually have no idea what I’m doing!

What I mean is that I tend to be unrealistic when it comes to setting my business goals. I underestimate how long my own tasks will take me and then “plan” to get 20 things done in a day when, in reality, I’ll be lucky if I have time to do one of them!

This isn’t about selling yourself short, doubting your abilities or putting yourself down. It’s about being realistic.

Knowing what you are capable of, and what tasks you struggle with will help you manage your time and expectations. And, more importantly, set goals that are actually achievable. There’s very little point in setting goals that are impossible to reach!

3. Think about the big picture

Now we’re getting into the actual goal setting part of the process.

You already have your “why” in mind, now it’s time to think about what you want to achieve in the next 12 months, 5 years, 10 years…in the long-term!

These big-picture goals will be the basis for your smaller goals so make sure that you think carefully about them as they will ultimately impact everything you do for your business.

Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • Income goals – To make £40,000 over the next 12 months
  • Day job goals – To quit your 9-5 within the next 6 months and retire your husband/wife/partner from their 9-5 within the next 5 years
  • Other financial goals – To be debt free within 3 years
  • Order/booking/sales goals – To sell 400 items per month by the end of next year/ to have 3 new clients onboarded each month/ to make £4,000 worth of sales each month
  • Statistical/ growth goals – To have 20,000 Instagram followers within 12 month. To have 100,000 unique pageviews per month. To have 5,000 email subscribers in the next 2 years etc.

4. Break down your goals

Those big-picture goals are great BUT how do you actually achieve them?

It’s time to break them down into quarterly, monthly and weekly goals and then break them down even further into daily tasks.

So, take one of your big-picture goals at a time and work out some sort of timeline for achieving them. For example, if one of your goals is to earn £40,000 over the next 12 months, work out how much you need to earn each month and then think about what income streams that money is going to come from.

Remember to think about your skills and limitations when setting time frames – you don’t want to put yourself under too much pressure and risk getting burnt out!

For each of my big picture goals, I have the following:

  • Quarterly goals
  • Monthly goals (my quarterly goals spread out across the relevant months in that quarter)
  • Weekly and daily tasks (the steps I’m going to take to achieve my monthly goals and stay on track)

And, before you know it, your huge, overwhelming goals have become small, easily manageable daily tasks!

5. Track your progress

There’s very little point in setting goals if you don’t know whether or not you’ve achieved them. So, a huge part of the goal-setting process actually happens after the goals have been set.

Tracking your progress against your goals will help you see if you’re on track and will also help you to identify any areas of your biz that might need additional work. For example, if your income goals aren’t being met, you might want to put more work into your marketing.

One great part of tracking your progress against your goals is that you can see how amazing you are doing! Don’t forget to celebrate the wins, no matter how small.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your business on track by setting yourself some goals