Are you feeling stuck in terms of growing your small business? Wondering how to set goals for business growth?  Answer the 4 questions below to create a plan for growth.

Goal-setting for small business owners and solopreneurs: Introduction

Today, we’re talking about how to set goals for business growth.  It’s important because having clear goals in your business informs how you will spend your precious time, energy, and resources.  This helps to ensure that you’re growing your business with intention, not just throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks.

If you’re a new small business owner or solopreneur, or you haven’t set goals in your business in a while, this post is for you!

A word of caution: Know your numbers

A word of caution before we get started… it goes without saying, but it’s essential that you understand the numbers in your business as they relate to the growth you desire.  There’s a lot of nuance and decision-making involved in setting goals, and that’s something I won’t go into today.

Question One: Define the growth you want

First, ask yourself, “Where do I want my business to be at a year from now, in terms of growth?”

Resist the urge to be vague here.  It’s difficult to measure progress toward vague goals, or even to know when you’ve achieved them in a meaningful way.

Here are a few examples of goals that are too general:

  • I want to get more clients
  • I want more revenue
  • I want to be the leader in my industry

See how all of those are super vague?  If you got even one new client or made one extra dollar in revenue, you technically would have achieved those goals.

I’m guessing you’d like to sign more than one new client, or make more than one extra dollar, so it’s important to get really specific about where you want your business to be at a year from now.

  • I want to sign 20 clients over the next 12 months
  • I want to increase my revenue by 25% year-over-year
  • I want to establish my authority in my industry by writing, self-publishing, and promoting a book over the next 12 months

See?  Now there’s a specific direction for growing the business over the next 12 months.

Question Two: Identify your path to success

The second question in how to set goals for business growth is, “What major steps do I need to take to get there?”

Brainstorm the big projects, major shifts, and key recurring activities that will help you grow your business in the direction you want it to go.  These will likely become mini-goals to help you achieve your larger goal of business growth over the next year.

For example, let’s say your goal is to increase your revenue by 25% year-over-year.  What are the major steps or milestones to achieving that goal?  That might look like:

  • Creating and marketing a VIP day as an additional revenue stream
  • Hosting quarterly paid workshops
  • Adding 1,000 subscribers to your email list (with the intent of signing more clients)
  • Potentially raising your prices for your product/service

Coach’s Tip: Overcoming “I don’t know”

By the way, If you find yourself thinking, “I don’t know,” don’t take that for an answer.  “I don’t know” is your brain’s version of, “The dog ate my homework.”

Instead, ask your brain to take a guess.

  • If you DID know the answer, what could it possibly be?
  • Where could you look to find the answer?
  • Who do you know that might be able to offer suggestions?

After you’ve identified the major steps to achieving the growth you want, it’s time to get focused by answering question number 3.

Question Three: The next logical step

Third, ask yourself, “Which of these milestone mini-goals is the next logical step in pursuing the growth I want?”

As you navigate the process of how to set goals for business growth, it’s important to strategically consider the order of projects, milestones, and implementation of key recurring activities. This helps ensure you aren’t putting the cart before the horse.

For example, if the milestone mini-goals are (as shown above):

  • Creating and marketing a VIP day as an additional revenue stream
  • Hosting quarterly paid workshops
  • Adding 1,000 subscribers to your email list (with the intent of signing more clients)
  • Potentially raising your prices for your product/service

…I’d strongly consider working on growing the email list first.

Why?

First, growing your email list will probably involve activities that you’ll need to do on an ongoing basis – not necessarily a one-and-done project.

Second, a larger email list means more potential clients when you launch the VIP day, host workshops, and when you announce that you’ll be raising prices soon.

Of course, you don’t have to add all 1,000 new subscribers to your list before moving on to the next milestone goal.  You can get those recurring list-building activities started first, and grow your list as you work on the other mini-goals throughout the year.

The simple example above illustrates how important it is to think strategically about your goals and the path to achieving them, especially for solopreneurs and small business owners.

Question Four: Outcome and deadline for your first mini-goal

Once you’ve identified the first logical mini-goal to pursuing your larger goal for business growth, it’s time to ask the fourth and final question.

Fourth, ask yourself, “What’s the specific outcome I want to achieve for my first mini-goal, and what date will I achieve it by?”

How long should mini-goals take?

Depending on the number, scope, and complexity of your mini-goals, each one may be doable in as little as a week or two, or take several months.  One option is to take a monthly or quarterly approach to pursuing goals, when it makes sense to do so.

For example, if the first mini-goal is to add 1,000 subscribers to your email list, the outcome and deadline might be:

“By February 28th, 2024, I will have created a lead magnet, sales email sequence, and begun posting about my lead magnet once per week on social media in pursuit of adding 1,000 new subscribers by December 31st, 2024.”

Because email list growth will be an ongoing goal throughout the year, there’s a set deadline for completing/implementing the activities that will achieve the goal of 1,000 subscribers – creating a lead magnet, writing and setting up a sales sequence, and marketing your lead magnet to potential clients.

When to move on to the next mini-goal

As you achieve the first mini-goal, repeat questions 3 and 4 to continue making progress toward your business growth goal throughout the year:

  • Which milestone mini-goal is the next logical step in pursuing the growth I want?
  • What’s the specific outcome I want to achieve for my first mini-goal, and what date will I achieve it by?

Rinse and repeat with each mini-goal, but remain flexible along the way.  You may need to add, change, or remove mini-goals from your list as the year progresses.

Goal-setting for small business owners and solopreneurs: Conclusion

Ultimately, a business without goals is like a boat without a rudder.  You’ll drift wherever the current takes you, with the hope that it’s someplace good.  Hope is not a strategy, as the cliché goes.  But with a clear goal for growth and a little planning, you can set a course toward growth.

Here’s a quick recap of the 4 questions to ask to create a goal to grow your small business:

  1. Where do I want my business to be at a year from now, in terms of growth?
  2. What major steps do I need to take to get there?
  3. Which of these milestone mini-goals is the next logical step in pursuing the growth I want?
  4. What’s the specific outcome I want to achieve for my first mini-goal, and what date will I achieve it by?

Need some help with mapping out a plan to grow your business as a small business owner or solopreneur?  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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