Whether just starting or hoping to grow an existing online business, the importance of articulating your goals cannot be overstated. Running an online business isn’t always as sexy as it sounds. You are going to be spending a lot of time in front of a computer screen, pushing buttons… and for many of those days, focusing on your goals will be the only thing that pulls you through. But if you follow the principals outlined in The SEO Effect and put in the work, you can give yourself a life without boundaries.
The fact that there are countless stories of entrepreneurs becoming wildly wealthy and successful through their online business is incredibly encouraging. It’s true that the Internet provides us with an endless stream of possibilities. However, many of the most successful online entrepreneurs did not set out with grand visions of glory. In fact, some of the most successful online business owners simply set out to do something cool, something they enjoyed, and something that they thought other people would enjoy too!
The truth is that your success or failure on the web will largely be due to the factors that motivate you. This is true because it is very hard to hide your true motivations. They will come through in your design, they will be evident in your messaging, they will direct your content and set the tone of your engagement… and few things turn people off like someone who is only in it for the money.
Now of course, a big part of your business goals will be to make money, but, part of this exercise is to also identify some of the more altruistic things that motivate you and that your business can set its sights on, to make the world a little better place. Those are the things that will help you get through the day and feel good about what you have done. Those are the things that will speak to your customers. Those are the things that will move them and foster the community that will support you.
The most important thing about making goals is to find a balance between reaching for the stars and setting goals that can actually be achieved. If you set your sights to low, then you could be setting yourself up for mediocrity. If you set your sights too high, then you may be guaranteeing that you fall short and risk the negative effects that underachieving can have of your emotional health and future performance. You may want to consider establishing a tiered set of goals with greater levels of reward for greater levels of achievement.
So let’s take a few minutes and get you to answer the following:
1. What is your target market share over the next 1,3 and 5 years?
Assuming that you have been able to calculate the total size of your market, what would be a reasonable and achievable goal for your business to achieve over the next few years.
2. What are your revenue goals for the next 1,3 and 5 years?
This could be expressed in terms of net revenue, gross revenue or percentage increase.
3. How much do you want your organization to grow over the next 1,3 and 5 years?
This is referring to the number of employees in your organization. You may want to list specific growth for various departments.
4. What type of atmosphere and culture do you envision for your company?
Remember that you and your team are spending most of your life working for this business. The company culture is so vitally important, not just to the overall level of satisfaction, enjoyment and sense of purpose that you and your team will experience, but it will also have a dramatic effect on the level of productivity and overall quality of work. Set a goal for your company culture!
5. How do you hope to incentivize your employees for outstanding performance?
Does it matter whether your employees deliver outstanding performances vs. mediocre ones? What positive effects can be felt throughout your business when a team member goes above and beyond to deliver the exceptional? Do you have an incentive plan that encourages your employees to step up in this way? What do you offer for outstanding performance? Bonus money? Additional benefits? How will you track and quantify that performance?
6. What do you see as your biggest opportunity for growth over the next year?
Identify the area of greatest opportunity for your business and set a goal for that growth.
7. What initiatives do you want to introduce within your company over the next year? What is the timeline for implementation, execution and success?
Because you are here, we are going to assume that increasing your web business is quite high on this list. But, you may also be looking at expanding products, locations or perhaps specific areas of your online presences such as social, marketing automation or online advertising. Write out your expectations in order of priority.
8. What online metrics would you like to see improve over the next year? List in order of priority.
This could be pages on your site, traffic, lowering bounce rate, increasing conversion rate, increasing email subscribers, improving social metrics, decreasing CPC, increasing ROI. The key here is to list the metrics that you will use to gauge the success of your online marketing over the next year. Remember to list what your current status is for each of these metrics so that you will have a benchmark for success.
9. How hard do you want to work?
For many web entrepreneurs the goal is simply to work less while maintaining or improving their income. However, many others find themselves in a season of life where they are willing to do whatever it takes and work non-stop to reach the pinnacle of success. It is important for you and the people who you will be working with to understand exactly what your expectations are in this area.
10. How are you going to reward yourself for reaching your business goals?
Far too often business owners commit themselves all in to their businesses and fail to set a reward for themselves. Be sure to set some personal goals and rewards for yourself. You will be much more likely to achieve your goals and be satisfied with your life if you write down a few simple goals and rewards and put them somewhere that you will see them often.