Flipping over the calender to a new year means it is time to set some new goals for my business. I made a great deal of progress last year, including launching a brand new website, and I want to keep that forward motion going. I want to know that next December, my business will be exactly where I want it to be.
There are a lot of goal setting guidelines out there; I use a slightly different method than I have seen described elsewhere. Feel free to use my method, or another method you are aware of, or create your own. What is important is that you set some goals for your business, not which method you use to do so. I’ll describe my method in case it might be helpful to you.
My first step is to choose ONE goal for the year. Yes, just one. Not a long laundry list of things I want to accomplish, really, just one goal.
This year my goal: Alexa ranking on Conversation2Sales.com under 1,000,000.
To give you some perspective, it’s currently a bit over 2,000,000. Last October, it was over 25,000,000! That is already a huge change, but it will take a great deal more work to get it below 1 million than it did to bring it from 25 million to 2 million. This is because there are a lot of websites out there that simply don’t get any traffic, so all it takes for you to outrank them is just a small amount of regular traffic. But once you start playing in the big leagues – and 2 million represents the top 8% of websites worldwide – it takes more work to move up.
Criteria For Choosing a Goal
I chose the Alexa ranking for my goal because:
- It is easy to measure.
- Reaching it will have other positive impacts on my business (assuming I can turn some of that traffic into sales).
- It will take some time to accomplish.
Personally, I love choosing a big yearly goal that is easy to measure. I love numbers and check the statistics on my business all the time. Numbers make it easy to see how you are doing.
After picking a big goal, I made a list of the criteria that influences the Alexa ranking, at least those that we can know. According to Alexa, these include:
- Three-month global traffic
- Reputation, as measured by the number of unique sites linking in
These, then, are the criteria that I must focus on if I am to meet the goal of improving my ranking.
So, from these criteria, I set 2-3 short term goals. The idea here is to focus on the action items (actual activities) that I can do on a regular basis that will help me to reach the larger, long-term goal.
Short-term Goals Make Crossing the Finish Line Easier
My short-term goals are:
- 1,000 comments on my blog (currently 127)
- 100 unique linking domains (currently 51)
- 2000 Twitter followers (currently ~900)
Notice that these goals are numbers as well and are not “I will create 10 backlinks every week.” This is intentional. I find that goals that involve a set amount of activity per day or week are easy to break. Running a business takes a lot of work and when you are the only employee, sometimes you have deadlines that are more important than these goals. Something has to give. And when it is the goal that you’ve set for yourself, it can feel like failure — and make you abandon the goal altogether.
Setting the goal as a total number to be gained over time works better in the real world of business. Yes, the goals will be easier to reach if I work on them regularly. But I also know that if I don’t have time to work on them — because I am busy actually serving clients – I can “catch up” when I do have time.
I believe that I can reach all three of my short-term goals within a couple of months. I like to stretch myself just a bit with the short-term goals; they should be fairly easy to reach with regular effort. The idea is to set a goal, reach it, and reap the emotional rewards for doing so, then set another goal. This is a much more powerful way to motivate yourself to reach long-term goals than simply focusing on that far away finish line.
I have already made some progress toward my short-term goals just since I set them a couple of weeks ago. This feels great! I am very excited about where my business is going in 2012.
What goals have you set for your business this year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.