As we get closer to the new year, people from all career paths will create personal and business resolutions to help motivate them. However, many of these goals will eventually become a distant memory because they’re often treated as a simple checklist.
Online entrepreneurs have a unique business that often oozes over into all aspects of life. Therefore, setting business goals should be treated with focused intention and clear benchmarks to keep you on track for the new year.
How to Set Business Goals for Online Business Owners
There’s no one-size-fits-all for setting business goals as an online entrepreneur. Some online entrepreneurs are freelance writers like me. Others have built successful brands that encompass managing a remote team. Many are juggling ideas for online courses or products that are in the process of being launched.
There’s a huge spectrum of online entrepreneurs, with many hats to be worn and a never-ending list of tasks to complete. Therefore, when it comes to setting business goals, it’s important to treat it as a top business priority.
Carve out specific time in your schedule where there won’t be outside distractions. That way, you can get a clear picture of where you’ve been and where you’re wanting to go as a business.
Review the Past Year with Your Team
Start by reviewing your business activity for the past year with your team. Ask for input on the highs and lows of the year. This is a moment for honest reflection. Any feedback (positive or constructive) can be used as stepping stones for setting business goals for the upcoming year.
For example, you might discover that certain processes frustrated or slowed your team down. You might find that alternative schedules or check-ins are needed. If you’re like me, without taking a pause to review, you might not have even realized all the things your business accomplished.
Note that not everyone has a team, especially those that are building income streams in the wee hours of the night on top of a full-time job. Depending on the scale of your business, your team might only be your spouse or a trusted virtual assistant.
As an online entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught in the weeds of running a business. So, it can help to gain additional perspective from those who are helping to build your dream.
Determine Long-term Objectives
Online entrepreneurs often feel pulled to constantly pivot to the next big thing. Social media makes it incredibly tempting to compare your business to others in the same space. Losing focus on your own goals and purpose can cause a lot of missteps along the way and slow down your business progress.
Long-term objectives give your business a clear and focused trajectory. These broad objectives are traditionally viewed as three to five-year goals. But given how fast online businesses grow and adapt, you can use a shorter time span of one to three years to help guide your business.
Not sure where to start? Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?”
The obvious answers for any business owner are to increase revenue and reduce certain expenses. But think beyond that.
Do you want to expand into an agency service, managing multiple freelancers? Do you want to shift toward online products that produce passive income? Are you wanting to spend less time working by increasing your rates or moving into a high-end client market?
It might help to view objectives under a specific lens, such as:
- Service – How can I provide value to my audience?
- Profit – How can I increase revenue or decrease expenses?
- Social – How can I use my business to give back?
- Growth – Where can I expand and how?
- Personal – How can I get more satisfaction out of my business?
The answers to these types of big questions can help when setting business goals for the new year.
Break down short-term goals
Short-term goals help you work toward long-term objectives. These smaller goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
Here are some examples of attainable short-term business goals for online entrepreneurs:
- Take one online course within 30 days to build new skills and expand services.
- Increase sales by a certain percentage each month.
- Invest in a business coach for six months and then evaluate the return.
- Attend two in-person networking events this year.
- Pick up one retainer client that brings in a steady $1,500 per month.
- Launch a new online course within three months.
- Hire a virtual assistant by the end of the month to delegate time-consuming tasks.
- Grow social media platforms by 5,000 to 10,000 followers.
- Increase article submissions to 15 per month.
Short-term business goals are the action steps needed to propel your business forward.
Once you have these goals in place, determine which ones are your priority. Then create tasks with deadlines to ensure you have a plan to follow.
Make a Plan to Review Your Goals throughout the Year
Don’t let your business goals fall by the wayside like many personal New Year’s resolutions do.
Regularly tracking your business goals, like putting check-in mechanisms and success measurement benchmarks in place, will help to steer your business in the right direction throughout the year.
Did you hit your one-month, three-month, six-month goals? If not, how can you pivot to ensure you reach them by end-of-year?
If you did reach them, did you acknowledge it? This is a big one for building team morale and pushing yourself forward as a solo online entrepreneur. We get so caught up in hustling to build a business that we can easily forget to celebrate the big and small milestones.
Being an online entrepreneur is such a unique lifestyle with tons of learning opportunities. We’d love to hear about your wins from this year and what you see on the horizon for your business next!