Goal setting is a very important step in making your online business a success. It’s hard to know where your business is going if you don’t have any goals for it. Sure, you can chug along and see where things end up, but in the long run having big and small goals will help you along your way faster.

My son joined his school’s 100 Mile Club this year. The goal for each participant, quite simply, is to run or walk at least 100 miles during the school year. But that’s not the only goal they celebrate. Every 5 miles is acknowledged, and the kids get a t-shirt with boxes at 25, 50, 75 and 100 miles when they reach their 25th mile. It really helps to keep the kids motivated.

These things are important. My son wasn’t really keeping track of his miles and wasn’t turning anything in to show that he’d reached 5 miles. He finally did it when he was close to 10 miles. He was a little frustrated with his lack of progress until he realized – he’d run 10 miles already!

These things help in your online business too. You may have a goal to make $5000 a month, $100,000 a year or whatever, but if you don’t acknowledge the progress you’re making, you’re more likely to feel as though you aren’t really getting anywhere.

Unlike the 100 Mile Club, your business isn’t going to be a straightforward progression, no matter how much you might wish otherwise. August was my best month ever by far, but things have gone down since then. That’s business for you, no guarantees about anything. Still, knowing how much more I can get from my business is quite motivating… and you’d better believe I enjoyed hitting that big milestone quite a bit, even if it isn’t sticking. Things are still going well, it’s just that they’ve dropped from amazingly good to pretty good.

I like a mixture of goals. Financial goals are well and good, but you need other goals that will help you to get there. Marketing goals. Writing goals. Any business activity you undertake that is important to your overall success, you should have some sort of goal for.

This isn’t always easy. Setting a writing goal should be more than pure volume, for example. I could crank out a dozen articles a day if I didn’t care about quality. Fast writing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but quality writing is more within my view of how I want to run my online business, and so it’s more of a focus than quantity.

Results are good to track, if not always easy. There are a couple options for how you track results. Hits on a page is one thing, after all, but if those hits don’t convert into income, how important are they really to your overall goals? Not terribly important if you’re trying to make a living more than you’re trying to feed your ego by how much traffic you get.

Keep that need for steady progress in mind. There’s no shortcut to running 100 miles, just consistent work. There’s also no replacement for hard work in your business. Work at it and understand that even the small signs of progress are important to your long term success.