If you are a solopreneur, you wear a lot of hats and cover a lot of ground in your business each day.
And, since you are both the marketing department and the sales department, it can be hard to move your business ahead while being super attentive to the client delivery work that pays the bills.
But YOU know you are capable of so much more.
And you know you have transformational work to share with this world.
So, why are you so busy being busy and playing small?
I’ve been a full-time creative solopreneur for 10 years, singlehandedly managing a 6-figure membership community, a private coaching program and my own marketing — with relative ease and joy along the way.
I work with my solopreneur clients who are trying to grow their brand image and authority AND stay committed to what I call The Entrepreneur’s Freedom Trifecta — the space to do what you want to do in your life and do work you love as well as operate fully as yourself — on establishing sustainable, supportive systems as well as making courage moves to uplevel your sales and visibility.
In this post, I am sharing how I view goal-setting in business as someone who has no interest in scaling my business in the future or operating a “business as usual business.”
Are You a Pantser or Planner?
I remember one year inside my membership community, one of our members did a No Goals Year.
I was intrigued.
Of course, there are some people who can get by with a few of their friends and no goals.
I am not one of those people.
In fact, there’s research that shows that working toward meaningful goals is a clear act of well-being and experiencing positive emotions.
I would agree.
Most of us need goals to work toward to create meaning in our lives.
Our business is no different.
Over the years, I have come across three types of goal-setting and planning types in the small business world:
This is the kind of entrepreneur who tends to wing it and fly by the seat of their pants with just a running to-do list or three. They don’t like to be tied down and really love to let their intuition guide them.
They have goals but they may or may not work toward them.
They wake up and let the day decide what they will tackle next.
Their process is messy and free-spirited and they are sometimes OK with this but often wish they had more structure, more of a plan and a clear path to follow.
They want space and flexibility throughout the day for creative inspiration — and for their busy life — and to always have a plan in their back pocket for when blocks of time clear.
The challenge for a Pantser is not really making a dent in things over time because you can easily get off track or distracted. Plus, the biggest challenge here is not being consistent.
In coaching, I work with Pantsers to have more of a planning system to follow.
A planner, on the other hand, has everything mapped out and ready to go and lives and breathes by their to-do list that has been planned in their day to the max. They follow this plan to a T knowing exactly what needs to be done on Tuesdays at 2:45 p.m.
They have goals — maybe too many goals and their day is dictated by trying to reach them. They reach their goals through a linear timeline.
The challenge for Planners is they leave very little space for things they truly want to do or very little freedom for spontaneity and joy and they end up feeling frustrated and resentful rather than inspired and creatively motivated.
In my coaching program, I work with Planners to free up space to make more time for doing what is needed to reach the big outcomes they want to see in their business.
A visionary is an entrepreneur who loves to set the vision and build a plan but doesn’t necessarily want to execute on the plan, verbatim.
Instead, their plan is a loose map to follow that leads to their outcomes but it’s not a script to follow. It’s a vision — an idea they are headed toward — but not an exact set of directions.
They have a vision and goals and they work toward them — but with creativity and flexibility.
Visionary types have the best of both worlds — a clear direction of where they want to travel as well as not over-planning and over-scheduling themselves to the point of zapping their creative energy and joy.
The Visionary has a gift for using intuition when parts of the plan need to go — and when they need to buckle down and focus on making the plan happen. Their execution is focused and aiming but with a good bit of freedom on HOW their plan will happen.
I am a visionary type.
I always have a plan.
I rarely follow the plan verbatim.
And I always reach my goals — just rarely in a linear fashion.
Clearly, no matter your style of planning, you must find equanimity and balance in how you approach choosing and reaching your goals.
I’m a fan of being super creative and operationalizing joy in all things — including in how you set your goals and strategy and how you create rituals, routines, and habits to see them through.
Brave Vision vs. Brave Actualization
I talk a lot with my clients in Brave Yes Business Strategy Coaching about having a clear and powerful vision that is focused on what you want to happen in your life and business.
Your future business dream is just a dream until you write it down and start to take it seriously.
This is where a Brave YES Vision turns into Brave YES Actualization.
Actualization is tricky.
It’s tricky because we’re human beings, not human doings.
We are not computers with perfect computing and execution.
We are living, breathing souls with life circumstances to account for every single day.
- The senior dog needs to be let out.
- The puppy needs attention.
- Heartbroken kids need to be tended to.
- Health issues that rock our world.
- Complex relationships and emotions
When you are building, creating, or starting anything, the final product may not match the vision you had in your mind — the one you so clearly mapped out and put into the planning of it all.
Your plan was just your ideal vision on paper.
That’s where the work begins.
And, your vision informs your strategy. And your strategy informs your goals. And your goals inform your tactics and tasks.
When Goals Aren’t the Goal
I have never set traditional business goals. I am not a traditional business owner or strategist.
For one thing, I have never had anything other than an online business. From day one my clients have been all over the world: Australia, the UK, France, Germany, New Zealand, Malaysia, Canada, and more.
For a second thing, I have never set a goal to make X sales in a year or to earn Y amount of revenue.
Much of my revenue — which has been ample enough to sustain my full-time work-at-home status — is a byproduct of doing work that I absolutely love all the time.
My particular way of goal-setting is more visionary, more macro-focused.
When goals are based on numbers we lose the human side of things — especially for ourselves.
When really, what you want is to see a change or to have a certain experience.
When you set goals without knowing how you want to feel you are likely in Should Land.
Instead of setting should goals or one-off goals based on comparisons and other metrics, consider aiming toward outcomes.
In other words, focus on the outcome you want.
Adjust your AIM and You may Hit your Goal!
As a business strategist and courage coach, my clients come to me because they aren’t hitting their goals and so we begin with one thing — changing their aim.
My method is in The Art of the Aim and it’s essentially about changing HOW you are aiming toward your target and doing what it takes to get closer and closer to your target.
You don’t just shoot an arrow.
You have to develop the right stance, the right focal point, the right aim.
When you focus on HOW you are going to reach your goal, more than the goal itself, magic unfolds — and I see this with my clients.
- One just said a Brave YES to sticking to a chill vibe marketing plan and brought in a ton of new members to her online membership community — all with a clear understanding of the outcome.
- Another is happily booked as a consultant company that she’s running on her terms, not industry standards — and is now busy enough to grow a team so she has more time and space for running her business and building her expert platform.
- A third is close to having her group coaching program up and running – a dream she’s had for years.
When your goals are metric-focused rather than aim focused — which is what I love to work with my clients on — you end up chasing numbers and not joy.
When you are AIM-focused, you are putting energy into the HOW of reaching an outcome rather than the outcome itself. As a result, the outcomes happen.
So, let’s talk about how to create powerful goals that are AIM-focused rather than metrics focused.
Finding the Right Timeline Target for Your Business Goals and Outcomes
There’s a lot of chatter in the collective about how far out you should set your vision and goals.
I like a lifetime goal to be set for your personal life.
And a 3- to 5-year business vision and goal-setting strategy.
Here’s a little bit about these types of timeline goals:
This is what you are working toward in your lifetime – maybe for yourself or for your career. By a certain age — let’s say retirement — you want to be, do and have what? A beach house? A life of travel? To have no mortgage? Do you want to be a New York Times Bestselling Author?
Lifetime goals are not for everyone. They require you to stay true to one or two visions for your life and if you are someone who is learning and growing fast you may find that your life goals change. Or, perhaps you need more time to really know what you want later in your life.
These goals are often around 10 years out from your life right now. And you know they will take time. Long-term goals are obviously hard to achieve and that’s why they will take years, not months.
Long-term goals are great if you have a set vision for your business 10 years down the road — which often means you have a business you are trying to scale.
Long-term goals are not necessary for every solopreneur. If you have a goal of taking yourself out of your business or changing your role in your business, a long-term goal may be ideal.
Short-term goals are the goals most people set at the start of a New Year, a New Season, or even a new week.
These are goals that are more possible to make happen in a shorter window of time — and keep your life and business moving in a steady forward motion.
Most people set short-term goals — and so they work for everyone. But, it is possible to set the wrong short-term goals that don’t help you reach your long-term or lifetime goals. Plus, it’s easy to let your goals be dictated by distractions, what you are learning and consuming and what you see others are doing.
These are the goals you wanted to be done yesterday and I am sure they make up a bulk of the goals you are working toward. The goals of the past. The goals you haven’t quite finished or even started working toward.
These goals are immediate because you feel a sense of urgency behind them. Often, immediate goals precede any long-term goals for the future.
Immediate goals are often what is standing between you and where you want to take your business in the future. These goals are often determined by the things you haven’t done or the things you’ve deemed important in the past. Sometimes immediate goals become our default and we’re working toward things that were once important but we haven’t reconnected within our lives — and yet we still keep working toward them.
It’s powerful to make sure you aren’t working toward immediate goals that are no longer in alignment with what you really want.
What Kind of Business Goals Should You Set?
Process Goals are about the actions you want to take in your business. How you perform your job and there’s almost always a good process goal to put into play in your business — either for yourself or for someone on your team.
I have worked with many solopreneurs over the years and some of the common process goals I’ve seen set are the following:
- Getting to your desk by a certain hour
- Updating and Managing your task management system
- Being consistent on your preferred marketing channels
- Boldly managing your team and creating a dynamic culture
I love a good learning goal, honestly.
A learning goal is really about building and bolstering your skills as an entrepreneur or expert in your industry.
Learning how to be a copywriter is a great example of an online business startup.
Another learning goal may be structured around getting better at speaking on stage.
A learning goal is focused on elevating and expanding yourself either personally or professionally.
Maintenance goals are the most underrated and under-used powerhouse of a goal.
Let’s say you are already doing really well in one area of your business — such as sending out a weekly newsletter — a maintenance goal would be to keep sending that newsletter out consistently so you don’t let it slip.
Maintenance Goals simply uphold what you are already doing well at and what to keep doing well at going forward.
Make a list of everything you are doing well at in your business — and decide on a maintenance goal or two.
Outcome goals are the results you want to see from the actions you take. Perhaps one outcome goal is to grow your email subscribers.
Outcome goals require strategy and tactics — and then performance.
If your outcome goal is to write a book, you’ll likely need some process goals to add to your plan as well.
Every goal is connected to an outcome. Every goal informs your strategy and tactics.
The stretchier you can get with your goals, the further you will go … which is why I am a fan of also setting Brave YES Goals.
Don’t Forget to Declare Your Brave YES Goals …
As a personal brand and solopreneur, your visibility is essential.
YOU are the business.
You are the lead magnet.
Since it’s so easy to hide behind client work and the day-to-day tasks needed to keep your business up and running, it can be hard to go above and beyond to market your business and boost your own authority in your industry.
This is precisely what I work with my clients on — and we begin with setting a Brave YES Business Vision and Expansion Goals.
During my upcoming Design Your Bravest Business Year Yet, I will be leading participants through a series of exercises and activities to understand what you really want for your business in 2023 and what outcome goals will help you get there. By working on goal-setting in a community setting, participants will have permission to dream bigger and aim higher.
The right YES goals will …
- Elevate your authority and grow your brand
- Grow your income and your Ease-factor
- Give you permission to run your business on your terms