How to Set Realistic Financial Goals (& Get Results!)
As a beginner blogger, it can be a challenge to set realistic financial goals. You don't know what the right dollar-figure is, or the right timeline to give yourself. If you're too far off the mark, it can be discouraging when you repeatedly fail to reach your goals.
Goal-setting is challenging enough without the added pressure of entering a new industry. That's why I've put together this post!
Today we're going to dive a little deeper into financial goal-setting so you can start aligning your actions with your business dream.
First step, we have to develop an organizational structure for setting goals. I recommend resisting the urge to skim past this section! We're going to start with a framework you know, followed by one that you probably don't know. Hang in there, this will help!
So, starting with what you know. You've likely already heard about setting SMART goals. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
This system offers criteria for individual goals, and is a great, easy-to-remember guideline for goal-setting in general.
Specific - clear description
Measurable - success metric
Attainable - realistic
Relevant - aligned with higher-level goals
Time-bound - has a deadline
In the instance of financial goal setting, an example of a SMART goal could be: "I will earn $1,500 in the next 3 months with my coaching service."
This goal is very clear about the what and how. (Specific)
We'll know that we were successful once we hit $1,500. (Measurable)
We can assume it's realistic based on site traffic, conversion rates, and service prices. (Attainable)
We can assume it's aligned with the overall business model of reaching clients through this coaching service. (Relevant)
It has a 3-month deadline. (Time-bound)
This is the lesser known framework, but one that offers more organization for strategic goal-setting. At the end of the day, OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) will give you a more holistic plan than you would if you only followed the SMART Goals framework.
First, we have Objectives. When you set a business objective, you're defining the direction your business is moving towards. Think of the objective as the destination or the WHERE. Objectives are higher-level goals that do not contain specific elements like numbers.
Then there are the Key Results. KRs are where you might apply the principles of SMART Goals. KRs measure your progress towards your Objective and are metrics that you have influence over. They are not tasks - think of them as success metrics or the HOW.
Those two are the core framework for OKRs, but the people over at Perdoo (an OKR software company) have added Initiatives to the framework. This is your WHAT, the work that is done to drive progress on those Key Results. These are not success indicators, they are simply the tasks you do and steps you take to achieve those success metrics.
To return to our previous example, we can create a plan that looks something like this:
Develop consistent income streams so I can quit my part-time job.
Earn $1,500 in 3 months with new coaching service.
Earn $1,000 in 3 months from new course launch.
Earn $500 in 3 months from affiliates.
Revamp coaching service page.
Map out launch strategy for new course.
Pre-sell course to email subscribers.
Write 2 more blog posts for affiliates.
Join new Pinterest group boards for promotion.
I just made up most of this stuff, but I think you can get the idea!
Do not use these numbers as a gauge for your own business. Your realistic goals depend heavily on your own stage of business and your own available resources.
Identifying Your Business Objective
Now that you have an idea of the best ways to organize your goals, let's get started!
The most important thing to establish first, is a proper Business Objective. These are entirely up to you, and you can have more than one for different areas of your business. Overall, these objectives should align with your vision and mission statement.
Related Post: How to Craft a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Blog
As far as profit-related objectives go, you'll want to consider how much money you want to make, what you need that money for, and how you want to make that money. You'll get specific with your individual goals/Key Results, but you should have a general idea for structuring your Objective.
Do you need profit to quit your day job? To supplement your spouse's income? To travel more? To save up for greater things down the line? To build up your retirement?
Or do you need profit so you can reach more ambitious business goals? Do you want to grow your business into the brick-and-mortar space? Add physical product lines? Build a team and hire employees?
Whatever your dreams are for your business, use those to identify a clear objective. You don't need to know specific numbers just yet, but you want to know which direction you're heading!
My Secret to Financial Goal-Setting
Once you have your objective, the rest will come through some brainstorming and experience.
I had the greatest success with reaching a goal of mine when I used Project-Based Goal-Setting.
For me, it was never enough to write the goal on a chalkboard or sticky note and leave it up on the wall. Instead, I turned my goals into a project! This was so much more actionable and practical, and made things 10x easier to follow-through on.
So, what does this look like?
- Knowing your success indicators.
Remember those Key Results? Depending on the success metric you choose, you can create a project sheet for the individual KR or your overall objective. It's all about breaking things down into the most streamlined, comprehensive system you can.
If one of your KRs needs a lot of work done, you'll want to create a separate project sheet. But if it makes sense to keep all your KRs in one project, do what works for you!
When I'm creating a project sheet, I like to write my KRs at the top.
Do not stress about the actual amount. If you have a number you're comfortable with, great. But if you don't even know where to start, don't let it hold you back.
This goal-setting process focuses more on taking action and less on making projections. So try your best, do a little research, pick a number, and then make it extremely conservative. Then, focus on the action steps of this process.
You'll get a better feel for realistic numbers as you gain experience, get to know your audience, and get to know your business!
- Know your deadline
I don't know about you, but this part is always the part that stresses me out the most. How am I supposed to know how long it'll take?
Plus, sometimes I plan goals and projects well in advance of when I intend to get them done. I'm a planner, that's just how it is.
If you're like me, just give yourself some sort of timeline. Whether it's a specific date, a month, a quarter, or even a year. Heck, I even write "Long-Term" on projects that I know I'm not going to start anytime soon.
Assign some concept of time to the project, and don't let it stress you out.
- Knowing where you're at.
This is the key step in setting REALISTIC goals, which is what most people struggle with. I can give you industry standards as a relative benchmark, but at the end of the day, your goals are dependent on you.
A lot of people consider 1,000 monthly page views to be a solid first milestone for new bloggers. Your ability to reach this goal will be dependent on your current marketing plan and traffic-driving strategies.
Someone who already has an audience from another website, perhaps, may find that reaching 3,000 monthly views in 2 months is a realistic goal. But someone starting from scratch with zero Pinterest presence will have to work harder and longer to just reach that 1,000 views.
So, when you're considering your KRs, deadlines, and tasks, funnel all that through your understanding of what stage you're in with your business. Do you have the tech? Do you have the time? Do you have the audience? Do you have the systems?
- Identifying the resources you need.
As you consider your current capacity and project goals, be sure to write down all the resources you will need to complete the project. This will help you to ensure you're fully prepared to tackle your goals!
This can be resources you need to obtain, or simply any resource that will be used. If anything needs to be purchased, be sure to note the cost so you can prepare for the expenses in your monthly budgets!
- Break out the tasks.
Now it's time for the brain dump! Jot down every task, big or small, that will bring you to your Key Result(s). Remember, these are your Initiatives. A goal is nothing without some hard work to reach that goal!
Lazy people especially have a tendency to let the intimidation of the tasks get in the way; hence, procrastination. So take this time to dump all of them on paper. It doesn't matter if you know how to do that task, it only matters if you have to.
Once you've done that, you can do a few more things to refine your list.
Remove any task that isn't absolutely necessary to reach the goal. It can be tempting to fill the white-space with tasks to make you feel more productive, but this will only hurt you. Seriously, chop extraneous tasks with a vengeance. Your success is at stake!
Group similar tasks to be completed around the same time. Switching tasks can cause major mental strain and split your focus. For maximum productivity and efficiency, try to batch similar tasks together to take the burden off your poor brain!
Organize them in the order they need to be completed! This way, you can sit down, look at your list, and get to work without having to re-prioritize and remember where you're at all the time.
So, let me know in the comments, what's your favorite way to make and track your goals?
Until next time!
- Katie Scott