Tips for Setting 2021 Business Goals

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To put it lightly, 2020 was unpredictable. Going into the new year, setting goals for your small business will be tricky. This year, focus more on your intention, and set small milestones to help mark time. Breaking goals down into small, achievable steps will be key to making progress this year and feeling good about your day to day work.

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Start with a vision for the year

Setting specific goals can be much harder this year given the uncertainty small businesses are currently facing. Goals related to revenue, online engagement, or product launches are likely to be affected by forces out of your control. Instead, try to set an overall intention or vision for the year, and put this intention into practice in any of the work you are able to accomplish.

This initial vision can be broad. Think of a particular word or feeling that you want to refer to throughout the year. Embody this intention in your smaller goals and content creation.

Setting a single word intention can also contribute to a bigger storyline and narrative for your business. For example, if your phrase for the year is “community impact” you can set goals and milestones that help your community through the work you already do each day. This will also help with content creation and set the tone for your messaging.

Focus on the next 3 months

Looking at the new year as a whole can be overwhelming! Instead, focus on the next 3 months and what you can achieve in that timeframe. Fit these quarterly goals into your larger vision.

These 3-month goals should be more specific. You can place goals into different categories such as financial, professional development, social impact, back-end operations, or online engagement.

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When writing these goals down, make sure they are SMART goals - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Write down a few main goals, then you can break them down into specific tasks that you will need to complete.

As an example:

Goal: Increase revenue by 5% over the next quarter


  • Improve product pages to get more sales
  • Start an email marketing workflow for customers with an abandoned cart
  • Run Instagram ads for 3 different products over the next 3 months

Build consistency through habits and bite-sized tasks

Based on your goals for the next 3 months, you will want to break them down into small tasks that you can complete in less than a day. Project management tools like Asana are really great for tracking larger projects, and all the tasks required to complete them. Think of each of the tasks above (e.g. improve product pages) as a separate project that will then be broken down even further. Small tasks are the key to making progress. Real progress is made by being iterative, and taking one small step at a time until you finish a whole project.

When creating these smaller tasks, thinking about them as habits can also be helpful. What are some quick, less-than-a-day activities you can do consistently? Being consistent is necessary to make big changes in your business. Being consistent means building habits that become easier and easier as you go. Use a habit tracker to mark your progress. Getting that nice little check mark will feel good and reinforce the habit over time!

Incorporate ideas for social impact

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When things are chaotic, it’s hard to think about ways you can help others. It’s important to remember that no matter how small your efforts are, you can make a postive impact on social issues. Donate or volunteer where you can, or incorporate social messaging into your content. Even a small, but well-planned contribution to a non-profit or charity can make a big difference for people in your community.

When looking at a social impact strategy, think about where you can make the most impact as a small business. Keep it local, donate at slower times of the year, and choose charities and causes that already align with your brand.

Social impact can also be an important consideration when posting content online. Some current events can’t be ignored and you need to be willing to adapt your content. Remember your values and respond to current events instead of reacting to them. Speak up on the causes that are important to you, and leave space for others in causes that are less relevant to your usual messaging.

Celebrate your small wins

In an unpredictable and chaotic time, it’s important to celebrate your milestones and recognize your progress, no matter how small. Set aside time to reflect on your goals and have a small celebration - popping a bottle of sparkling wine is a great one! Schedule these moments into your calendar if you have to!

Much like self-care and avoiding the news, celebration is going to be super important this year as time becomes more and more surreal. Make sure you recognize your hard work, your sanity and your achievements to set yourself up for success in 2021.

Let’s set some goals together

Want more help with goal setting and digital marketing for the new year? Join my upcoming workshop: Content Planning for 2021.

During the workshop we will talk about goal setting in general, setting specific goals for your online marketing, and strategies for scheduling and creating new content.

Register for the workshop
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