Have you set your business goals for this year? Or are you more of a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantser”?
If you’re in business for yourself, then you really should have goals. Goals are an essential piece of the business planning process.
You may be thinking that 2021 goal setting is just one more task that you don’t have time for. However, without goals, you’ll find yourself going in a million directions, chasing every shiny object, and spinning out of control.
But if you haven’t set business goals before, you may not know where to start. Setting effective goals is a skill that you can learn.
Or, after last year, you may be stumped about the best way to go about setting goals for 2021.
We’re going to fix that.
What is the best reason for setting a goal?
People have a lot of different reasons for setting goals.
Goals keep you motivated.
Goals give you a way to move forward.
Goals give you a way to measure your success.
But the most important reason, in my opinion, is that goal setting helps you to focus and to know what to prioritize in the limited time that you have available. Because none of us have enough time, am I right?
Is goal setting even worth it in 2021?
You may be wondering if it’s even worth setting goals. We’re living in uncertain times, and we all saw our goals fly out the window in 2020.
But you know what? That makes goal setting even more imperative this year.
Setting goals for this year can help you get out of the rut that you may have found yourself in (seriously, how much time do you spend trolling Facebook groups and calling it “work?”). Setting goals can help you find your purpose in 2021. This is your chance to get your business back on track.
You may not set the same kinds of goals that you did in the past. And that’s okay. We’ll talk about some different types of goals that you might want to set this year.
Step 1: Start the process with reflection
Before you think about the goals that you will set for 2021, start with a little reflection. It will help you get your thoughts in order so that you can set the right yearly goals for your business. Set aside some time on your calendar so that you aren’t distracted.
Look back at the prior year
It’s crucial to reflect this year, coming out of 2020. We already know that 2021 is not going to be a “normal” year. Take the lessons you learned last year and apply them to your business going forward.
What worked well? What didn’t work so well? What if you had a do-over?
Think about your long-term goals
What do you want to accomplish in your business in the next three to five years? Your long-term goals will set the direction for your business.
Since you are an entrepreneur, your business is closely tied to your life. So this is a good place to think about your long-term personal goals, as well.
Do you want to achieve a certain revenue level?
Do you want your business to support a specific type of lifestyle?
Review and reflect on your “why”
Whenever you spend time reflecting, it’s a good idea to review why you are doing this. Why did you start this business? What is your purpose?
Reviewing your “why” will help you stay true to that purpose. It will help you set goals that move your business in the right direction.
Think about your vision
If you have a vision statement for your business, read over it again. If you don’t have a vision statement, then now is the time to create one.
I have a workbook that will help you think through your vision and craft a vision statement that will guide you.
And if a vision statement sounds too formal, then create a vision board.
Step 2: Decide what types of goals you will set for 2021
There are three types of goals that you can set. You’ll likely want a mix of different types of goals, depending on the stage your business is in and your personality.
Is your business a start-up? Then you’ll want more action goals. If you have an established business, then you may want more metrics-related goals.
Type 1: Goals related to metrics
This is what you probably think of when you hear the word “goals.” Metrics goals have a number attached.
- $100,000 of revenue
- 25 % increase in income
- Reach 10,000 Instagram followers
If you are a numbers-oriented person, then goals related to metrics will be right up your alley.
Type 2: Goals related to schedules
This type of goal might be attractive to you coming out of 2020 if your schedule got out of whack. It’s also a good type of goal to set if you are new to working for yourself.
Schedule goals have to do with when you do certain things.
- Maybe you want to get up at 5 AM every morning and work 4 hours on your business.
- Maybe you want to start time-blocking.
- Maybe you want to set aside 2 hours a day to work on your new product.
These are all examples of schedule-related goals. The idea here is that instead of targeting a specific metric, you concentrate on when you are going to do the work.
Type 3: Goals related to actions
Another type of goal is about taking action. This type of goal is great if metrics goals or deadlines make you anxious.
I like to use weight-loss as an example because I think it’s something we can all relate to.
Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds in the next three months. Okay. You can’t control when the pounds are going to drop off.
But you could set a goal to exercise for an hour every day and cut out all desserts. Those actions are absolutely controllable.
To use a business example, let’s say you want to grow your email list by 5,000 subscribers. You could set a goal to create a new lead magnet once a quarter. Or host a webinar every month.
When I was in the corporate world, our salespeople had call goals to reach every week. They couldn’t control if the sale would happen, but they could make it a habit to go on five sales calls a week.
Actions lead to results.
Want to learn about smart goals? Check out Ultimate Guide for How to Achieve Goals.
Step 3: Avoid these mistakes setting goals for 2021
Here are four common mistakes that people make when setting goals. As you go through the goal-setting process for your business this year, make sure you’re not making any of these mistakes.
Mistake #1: Procrastinating
You don’t have to wait until the 1st of the year, 1st of the quarter, or 1st of the month to set goals. Start where you are.
If you are reading this post on January 11th or July 11th, it’s okay. You can set goals for the remainder of 2021 or for the next 12 months (call it your fiscal year J).
Another reason you might procrastinate is that the whole idea of goal-setting overwhelms you. If that’s the case, set a timer for 45 minutes and just get your thoughts out on paper. They don’t have to be perfect.
Mistake #2: Not prioritizing
I often see people setting too many goals.
You can probably think of hundreds of things you want to accomplish in your business. But having too many goals is a distraction.
Business goals should help you focus on your most important priorities.
Take your 2021 goals list and then whittle it down to a manageable number. Be ruthless.
What are your top 3 goals? That is where your focus should be.
When you have too many goals, you won’t achieve any of them.
Mistake #3: Being too vague
People often set loosey-goosy goals. They want to “make more money.” Or “grow their email list.”
But what does that mean? Making more money could mean hitting six figures. Or it could mean making an extra $100 a month. To take it to the extreme, if you made $1 more than you did last year, then that would be “more money.”
And how will you know when you hit your target? Be as specific as possible so that you can track your achievement.
If you set a goal to earn six figures in 2021, then you need to generate $25,000 per quarter or $8,333 per month. That’s specific and trackable. You’ll know, without question, if you achieved it or not.
Mistake #4: Setting goals that are unrealistic
I’m all for having big dreams, but setting goals that are unrealistic can be demoralizing.
Here’s an example. My first year in this business, I set a goal to reach 100,000 pageviews. That was totally unrealistic!
I was looking at other online businesses that had achieved that level, so I thought I could, too. But they were established businesses and were in B-to-C niches.
Having a goal that wasn’t doable was stressful and disheartening.
When you are setting business goals for 2021, make sure that you can realistically achieve them this year.
Step 4: Establish a system to achieve your goals
What should you do after you set your goals for 2021?
Now that you know the types of goals you want to set and you know what mistakes to watch out for, it’s time to establish your next steps.
Break your goals down into smaller, achievable milestones.
Big annual goals can be overwhelming. And they may cause you to procrastinate because you have all year to achieve them, right?
Break each goal down into quarterly, monthly, even weekly milestones. Having a time limit will give you a sense of urgency to take action.
Each time you hit one of those smaller milestones, you’ll feel motivated to keep going. These smaller successes will also build your confidence in your ability to complete your goals.
Track your progress
Tracking accomplishments goes hand in hand with creating milestones.
After you break your goals down, then set up a system to track them. You’ll see if you are making headway or not, and then you can make adjustments as needed.
For metrics-based goals, a simple spreadsheet will help you track your movement toward each milestone.
For schedule-based goals or action goals, you could track your achievements on a whiteboard, in a project management app like Asana, or on paper.
How you track your progress doesn’t matter. It just matters that you do it.
Accountability is what is going to make your goal-setting efforts come to fruition. It will help you get through the messy middle.
Tracking your progress is one piece of accountability.
The other piece is commitment. You have to commit to doing the work.
Create plans to achieve each goal. Break the plan down into steps. And then set a schedule to get you there. Make it a priority to work the plan.
If you struggle with accountability, then find an accountability buddy or start a small accountability group. Facebook groups can be a great place to find like-minded people to partner with.
I had an accountability partner in 2019-2020. We met several times a week via video chat, and it was enormously helpful to me as the pandemic took off. In each chat, we shared what we wanted to accomplish and then followed up with what we actually accomplished.
There you go. Now you’re ready to set your business goals for 2021. To recap what we talked about:
- Start with reflection. Look back and look forward.
- Decide on the types of goals you want to set: metrics-based, schedule-based, or action-oriented.
- Avoid the four common goal-setting mistakes.
- Lastly, create a plan to move forward. Goal setting without an action plan won’t get you anywhere.
Want to remember this? Save Setting Goals for 2021 to your favorite Pinterest Board.
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