Want to achieve your goals as a small business owner or solopreneur?  Do this one important thing that so many people overlook: If you want to achieve your business goals, you need to know how to create a goal plan.

Introduction:  How to create a goal plan as a small business owner or solopreneur

“Set goals.”  We hear it all the time.  We all know it’s important to set goals in business, but setting goals is only part of the story.

Today, you’ll learn the missing piece in the goal-setting process, and why having a goal plan is so important.

Why you need a goal plan

Having a goal without a plan to achieve it is like having a destination in mind for a road trip, but not planning a route to get there.

A goal plan gives you clarity around the exact steps you need to take to achieve goals, so you can grow your business.  This can increase efficiency and productivity, because you won’t be wasting time trying to figure out what you should do next in your business.

Having a goal plan can also reduce emotions that get in the way of growth and productivity, like:

  • Overwhelm
  • Indecision
  • Second-guessing
  • Confusion

When you have a detailed plan to achieve your goal, you’re giving yourself and your business a set of marching orders.  The goal plan tells you know exactly what you need to do next to achieve your goal.

How to create a goal plan

Creating a goal plan takes some time and work up-front.  The extra work is worth it, though, because it significantly increases your chances of achieving your goal.

Step one:  Brainstorm tasks

The first step in creating a goal plan is to brainstorm everything you know you need to do to achieve your goal.

Write down or type out each step that comes to mind.  Include tasks you need to complete, as well as any conversations, phone calls, emails, research, etc. you need to do in pursuit of your goal.

Coach’s Tip:  I like to do this in a document on my computer, because it will be easier to put the finalized goal plan together later on.

At this stage, don’t worry about the order tasks need to be done in.  Just write down everything you can think of.  Also, don’t worry about forgetting anything, because you’ll have the opportunity to modify your goal plan, as needed.

Step two:  Brainstorm gaps to fill

The second step in creating a goal plan is to brainstorm anything you’ll need to learn or obtain to achieve your goal.

As you brainstorm, include any support tasks that will help you to learn or obtain whatever you need.

For example, let’s say that part of your goal plan is to delegate tasks to someone else.  What’s something you need to obtain to achieve that?  Well, maybe you need to hire a virtual assistant (VA).

To hire a VA, maybe you will ask friends for recommendations, create a list of responsibilities for the VA, speak with an attorney about creating a contract for the VA, schedule interviews with VAs, make a decision, etc.

Hiring the VA is what you’ll need to obtain, and everything else is support tasks.  It will all get incorporated into your goal plan.

Step three:  Identify potential issues and obstacles, and create strategies to overcome

The third step in creating a goal plan is to identify, in advance, any internal or external issues or obstacles to achieving your goal.  Then, you’ll consider potential strategies to overcome each one.

Internal issues and obstacles

Internal issues and obstacles are any personal habits, behavioral patterns, or struggles that might prevent you from working toward and achieving your goal.

It can feel uncomfortable to think about your own shortcomings, but it’s totally normal to have them.  In fact, considering how you’ll deal with them in advance puts you ahead of the vast majority of people!

As an example, let’s say that you struggle with getting motivated to take action on your goals.  (That’s super common, by the way.)

Low motivation is a potential obstacle to achieving your goal.  What strategies could you use to overcome it?  Maybe you decide you will develop discipline by working on your goal every day for 30 minutes, whether you feel like it or not.

External issues and obstacles

External issues and obstacles are things outside of yourself that might get in the way of achieving your goal.

For example, maybe you’re concerned that the VA you hire won’t work out, and that could throw you off-track.

A few strategies could be:

  • Repeat the VA hiring steps with a stronger emphasis on vetting ensuring overall fit
  • Find and train someone local (a teen family member, acquaintance looking for work, etc.) to do the VA work

The most important thing is that when you identify a potential obstacle, don’t see it as a brick wall.  Instead, see it as a stop sign that you can move beyond by thinking strategically.

Step four:  Rearrange all in order of completion

Step four in creating a goal plan is to compile, in order of completion, all of the steps from the task brainstorm, the learn/obtain brainstorm, and the issues/obstacles brainstorm.

This is where using a computer-based document comes in REALLY handy.  You can simply copy and paste tasks until they’re in an order that makes sense to you.

Combine all the to-dos from your three brainstorms, and arrange them in an order that makes sense to you.  When it comes to obstacles and strategies specifically, you might not be able to pinpoint where they will pop up in the process.  Therefore, it’s okay to have obstacles and strategies off to the side, or at the bottom of the document.

Coach’s Tip:  Don’t worry too much about getting the tasks in the exact right order at this stage.  Your goal plan isn’t set in stone, so you can always rearrange the order of tasks, as needed.

Step Five:  Identify benchmarks, target completion dates, and estimated completion times

Step five in creating a goal plan is to identify major benchmarks in your goal plan, create target completion dates for each, and to estimate completion times for each task in the goal plan.

Goal plan benchmarks

Look over your goal plan, and identify the major benchmarks or components of achieving your goal.  This will help you gauge your progress and stay on-track.

For example, if your goal is to launch a new offer with an automated funnel, a few of the benchmarks in your goal plan might be completing the landing/sales page, creating a lead magnet, and creating and activating an email sales sequence.

Highlight or bold these benchmarks on your goal plan.  You can also type them as outcomes within the goal plan, below the last task associated with the benchmark.

Target completion dates

For each benchmark, assign a target completion date.  Keep in mind the time you have to work on your goal and the amount of work involved for each benchmark.

Estimated completion times

Finally, consider every task on your goal plan, and type/write a quick estimate of how long it will take next to it.

When estimating completion times for a task, be generous.  Give yourself 50% or more time than you think it will take.

Why estimate completion times?  Having estimated completion times for each task on your goal plan makes it easier to schedule the tasks on your calendar as you work toward your goal.  Having an idea of how long something will take makes scheduling easier and less mentally taxing – which means you’re more likely to actually DO the scheduling.

Adjust your goal plan as you go

Once you have a goal plan, it can be easy to believe that you need to follow it exactly. However, this can lead to frustration, unnecessary setbacks, and missed opportunities.

Instead of seeing your goal plan as an inflexible mandate that’s set in stone, choose to see it as a flexible list of action items that can change with the flow, as needed.

We don’t pursue goals in a vacuum, so we shouldn’t expect our goal plans to exist in one, either.

How to create a goal plan as a small business owner or solopreneur:  Conclusion

As a small business owner or solopreneur, it’s important to set goals to grow your business.  However, a goal without a plan is like trying to build a house without blueprints.  A goal plan provides clarity, reduces overwhelm and indecision, and creates focus for you and your business.

To recap, here are the 5 steps for how to create a goal plan:

  1. Write down everything you know you need to do to achieve your goal.
  2. Write down anything you need to learn or obtain to achieve your goal, and the associated tasks.
  3. Identify potential internal and external issues, and brainstorm strategies to overcome each
  4. Rearrange in order of completion
  5. Identify major benchmarks and target completion dates

One last note:  Creating a goal plan can feel like a lot of work.  And, once you’ve created the goal plan, you might start to feel overwhelmed when you think about all the effort it will take to achieve your business goals.  If you’d like some help with creating and working toward your goals, let’s talk!

About the Author Amy Schield

Amy Schield, MBA is a time management and productivity coach for small business owners. Using a mix of simple tactics and neuroscience-based strategies, she helps clients manage their time successfully, set and achieve goals for business growth, and navigate the mental and emotional side of owning and running a small business. Acting as a personal trainer for the brain, she teaches clients how to get out of their own way, so they can finally build the business they want.

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