How to set a good business goal

2017 is here, full force, and I bet you're doing the same as me - trying to figure out what the heck to do with these 365 (or a little bit less) clean fresh slates in front of you.

A big, big part of that is setting goals for your creative business - something that I had not done at all for 2016 when my only goal was to be happy, but something that I have absolutely loved doing for 2017. 

Now, goal setting can be hard sometimes. Getting from the jumble of thoughts and to dos and ideas in your head down to actual, tangible goals and then transforming them into to dos that fill you work day is not super easy! 

This is why I've spent the last few weeks developing a free Goal Setting Worksheet and the new Creative Boss Goal Setting Program for you! 

The free Goal Setting Worksheet gives you two templates - a yearly overview and a weekly planner - to plan your 2017 with and break your goals down into weekly and daily to dos. 

The 2017 Creative Boss Goal Setting program is the worksheet on speed and with sparkles - you get two more templates, a detailed guide on how to get from a list of ideas and thoughts to a monthly plan and then to a daily to do list, and (!!!) a 45 min Goal Review Call with yours truly. The program is only available until the end of Jan so sign up now to get yourself all set up to kick ass in 2017!

Now, one question that is crucial to both the worksheet and the program is "How do I actually set a good business goal?" - and it's not so easy to answer.

You've probably heard that goals should be "SMART" - an acronym that, depending on which website you trust, can mean anything and everything from "Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely" to "Strategic, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound". I don't know about you, but I get confused just thinking about this. 

This is why I sat down and put together my own little guide on how to write a good business goal - including a few examples. 

First, let's take a step back.

Why is goal setting important (and useful) for your creative business?

Goal setting is important because it helps you focus on DOING, not deciding what to do. Once you've put some thought into what you want to achieve the next day, week, month, year, all you have to do is DO.

No more mental space spent on making decisions what to work on next while you're working - that ends (at least for me) very often in front of Netflix because decision making is hard work, people! Instead, all your focus can be on execution, on getting shit done.

What makes a good business goal?

I've found - through trial and error - that a good business goal has all of these characteristics:

1. It's very concrete. 

Making a goal as concrete and specific as possible means breaking it down (ideally) to the different physical actions that are required to complete the goal. Why is that important? Because it takes away all ambiguity and doubt about what you need to do to accomplish the goal. 

Example: 

"Set up a website" - that's technically a goal. But it's not a very concrete one. "Set up a website" can mean anything and everything from "Hiring someone to design and program and launch a website for me" to "Investigate different hosting providers, write up some copy and throw it up" and beyond. See what I mean with it not being very specific?

"Write all texts for the website" is already more specific, but still ambiguous. "Write a text for the homepage, one for the about page, and a description of my coaching offers" is a goal that's pretty much as concrete as it can get. 

Now, how concrete the goal needs to be in practice depends on the timeframe we're talking about. Generally, the shorter the time frame the more specific the goal should be. Talking about the goal for the day? Make it super, super specific. Writing down the goals for the months of 2017? They can be a bit broader.

2. It's within your powers to achieve. 

The most concrete goal on earth won't help you if it's not within your powers to achieve it. I'm sure you've come across goals that weren't in your hands in your professional life every once in a while - like sales targets that are not only influenced by how good you actually sell, but by product prices that were set by somebody else. 

Make sure that there are no external influences to the goals you set yourself, but that you can really, truly achieve it by doing what you need to do. Don't bullshit yourself, though - goals like "Sell 5 knitting project bags through Etsy" are technically influenced by the people buying the project bags, but the by far bigger lever is in your hands - promoting, setting the right prices, setting the right marketing strategies into motion.

3. It's measurable. 

You need to be able to tell if you've actually achieved your goal or not. Now, don't laugh at me, I have had more than enough situations in my previous jobs where we realised after working super hard on something that we couldn't actually say if we'd been successful. 

That's an awful feeling. To avoid that, make sure you can put a number or a yes / no checkmark behind your goal.

The number can be anything from a revenue target to a number of items sold target to a how often you posted on Instagram target - whatever works best for you. I tend to work best when I know how many items I need to sell to achieve a certain revenue goal per month, and then break it down into promo goals like how often to promote on Instagram and how many marketing emails to send. That's personal preference though - figure out what works best for you through trying different methods.

4. It's in line with your overarching goal.

Don't forget the big picture. I realise this sounds cliché, but make sure that the goals you're working on actually contribute to your bigger life or business goal.

Example: My goal for 2016 was to be happy. Now, during the year, I did a lot of work for bigger clients that didn't necessarily make me happy, but it paid the bills. I felt it needed to be done. Only - this really got in the way of my goal to be happy. The goal of "making money to pay the bills by working with big corporates" was not in line with my goal of "be happy". When I realized that, I decided to ramp down my work with corporates and focus on smaller creative businesses instead - because that's what made (and still makes) my heart sing. 

How many goals should you set?

If in doubt, choose less. Generally, I'd recommend to set three to five goals per month in the magnitude of "launch a collection" or "set up the website" or "publish one blog article per week" - if running your creative business is your full-time job. Scale it down depending on how much time you really have to work on your business. 

Download the free Goal Setting Worksheet to get your yearly planner so that you can fill in these three to five goals per month now! 

Don't forget to track!

I can only recommend to get into the habit of reviewing and tracking your goals regularly. I sit down at the end of every month, check if I've achieved my monthly goals and if I haven't, spend some time thinking about why not. Then, I look at my yearly calendar, write down the goals for the next month and break them down into more specific mini-goals and to dos. 

I hope this overview of how to set a good business goal is useful to you! Don't forget to check out the free Goal Setting Worksheet - and sign up for the 2017 Goal Setting Program