How to Set Goals for a Small Business

Last Updated: December 16, 2023

If you are wondering how to set goals for a small business, I’ve got you covered. Setting up goals for your small business or your side hustle is a tricky thing (what is a side hustle? click here). On one hand, you want to make them exciting enough so it will motivate you to work towards them (even when you are tired). On the other hand, you want to make them realistic, otherwise, you will not achieve them.

If it’s not achievable, aside from not getting the results that you want, you will also get discouraged and feel frustrated with yourself.

This is why I think that this post on how to set goals for a small business is one of the most important posts on my blog because the way you set your goals and work hard to achieve them will be the most significant success factor in your business. Not sure if your new idea is going to be the right side hustle for you? Check out my post on Side Hustle Ideas for working moms.


How to Set Goals for a Small Business

How to Set Achievable Goals

I set my business goals on a regular basis and now, that I’ve been doing it for years, I can say for myself that I prefer the second method, of setting realistic and achievable goals.
Here is why –

Let’s say that you set up a goal to make $1 M a year from your new side business by the end of the first year of your business or even by the end of the second year of your business.

You start to get so excited because of a YouTube video that promises an “overnight success” if you start selling this new product and you think, wow I can do it too. But the thing is, that there is no “overnight success” and all the hours that this person has put in to get to this point (like working on their skills, trying new things, and failing miserably, getting up again and again and not giving up) are invisible. You don’t see all the years that they invested working to get to this point.

So, when you set up a very big and unachievable goal, no matter how committed you are, chances are you won’t be able to achieve it.

And what’s even worse is, that when you start going through this path over and over again (the path of setting up goals and failing to achieve them over and over again), then you start losing confidence in yourself and you start thinking that maybe you are not good enough or smart enough or confident enough to pull it off.

But this is a mistake. You are capable of starting a side hustle and growing it into a business that makes $1 M a year in revenue, just it will probably not happen in 1 year.

Remember the saying by Henry Ford – “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t- you’re right.”

The only thing that is causing all the problems and discouraging you, is setting up unrealistic deadlines for yourself.

If you take your financial goal, for example, and you break it down to achievable and realistic milestones and deadlines, that take into account your very busy schedule and the time you would need to upskill yourself and learn and improve on everything that you do, you will be amazed of how much you are able to achieve in life.

Let’s take an example and break it down even further –

You are starting a side hustle of baking birthday cakes. You start calculating how much money you can make each month and how you can grow this thing if you also hire a student to help you. Your first goal would not be to make $10,000 a month (although you most definitely can achieve that goal in the long run).

Your first goal would be to sell just 1 cake. That’s it. Just one cake.
When you look at it that way, it looks so achievable that it motivates you to start working on it immediately.

And the thing is, once you succeeded in selling your first cake, your first product, succeeded to have your first customer, now it motivates you to achieve the next step and you can set up a bigger goal for yourself. When you do it gradually, the most important thing that happens is that you start gaining confidence in yourself, you start to feel that you can really do it.

This confidence will grow and grow every time you will achieve another milestone and I’ve found this to be the key to all success in business. Always remember that your state of mind is everything. Not how talented or competent you are. The more you become confident, the more you’ll achieve.


How to set up a deadline for your goals

This is a painful topic and it is absolutely related to what we have just talked about.

Setting up achievable deadlines and small milestones – will push you forward to continue making progress.

Setting up unachievable deadlines for yourself (like having 15 new customers by the end of next month when you don’t even have 1 customer) will get you stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. It will also make you think that you can’t do it, that maybe you are not set up to be a businesswoman and that this whole thing was a bad idea and you should drop it and stick to your job.

See how it goes?

I love what Brian Tracy said in his book Goals! about deadlines –
“There are no unrealistic goals; there are merely unrealistic deadlines.”
And “If you don’t achieve the goal by that deadline, you set another deadline”.
What a wonderful way to look at it instead of beating yourself up!

I’ve embraced this long ago and every time I start criticizing myself for not completing something on time – I remind myself of this, saying ‘ that’s ok, just set another deadline’.

So, if things are not going the way you thought they would, if you need more time, just set a new deadline. All that matters is that you are making progress.

Be prepared to be flexible and change your plan and dates as you go, because this will happen all the time!

So now that we know how to set up goals and deadlines, here are 4 important tips that will help you start making progress. All of these are the things that work for me and that I learned from Brian Tracy’s book –

Write Down your Goals Every Day

This is something that I do every morning before I start working and it has a significant impact on how to set goals and achieve them.
It helps clarify what I really want to achieve and also keeps me connected to my goals and focused on achieving them every day. These goals can sometimes change and it’s ok because things are changing for you all the time. Writing down your goals on a daily basis will keep you clear on where you are going.

Also, Brian Tracy recommends writing it down (instead of typing that on your computer), so it will program your goals deep into your subconscious mind. I love this idea.
I still like to write things in notebooks (I have a notebook where I write my plan for the day, I have my goals notebook, I have a time tracking notebook and I am even still using a hard copy diary that I take with me everywhere).

I happily started implementing that idea and I write my most important goals every morning, it doesn’t take me more than 10 minutes and it keeps me on track. When you write it down, It makes you think, ‘am I really doing the things I need to do on a daily basis to achieve these goals? What can I do today to make progress with these goals?’.


How to Make an Action Plan:

List all the things you would need to do in order to achieve your goal

In order to create a plan, you have to start with a list of all the things you will have to do in order to achieve this goal.

This is the step where you write everything that comes to mind, with no specific order. On this list, also include the resources you will need, for example, if you would need a certain amount of money to invest in the business (to buy software, pay for subscriptions, buy equipment), then write it down, so you can plan ahead.


Organize all your tasks in the right order

Once you have a complete list – start organizing that in the right order and prioritize the things that are the most important in order to make progress


Work on your goals every single day

You might not have a lot of time during the week to work on your side business because of your day job and all the other things that you have to do 24 hours a day. When you have a full-time job and kids to take care of, then most likely, the only time you have available to work on your side business, is on the weekend.

However, the idea behind the advice to work on your side business every day is to gain momentum. I’ve learned this to be so true. Because when you stop doing something for long periods of time, you lose that momentum, that energy and excitement and your goal starts to look very far away and unachievable to you. So, although I have more time on the weekends, I also do my best to work just a little bit every day – making small progress even just for 30 minutes a day (this could be listening to training while I am on the train or replying to emails in the evening or doing research about something for 15 – 30 minutes).

And lastly, I think that as an extremely busy mom, my biggest advice to you when you wonder how to set goals for a small business would be to be kind to yourself and be patient.
This is not a sprint, you are in this for the long run.

You have a lot going on in your life, everyone needs your attention, your kids, your partner, your job, your health and now your new side hustle. So, acknowledging that and taking the time for each of these things in your calendar and taking breaks from time to time, are very important for you to be able to succeed in making progress in the long run.


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