With the new year approaching, many people like to review how things have been going and make resolutions or set goals for how their business will go in the new year. It’s as good a time as any to do this; in fact, reviewing your progress and setting new goals is best done a few times a year in my opinion. You need to be aware of how things are going to make sure you’re on the right path.

I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. This past year did not go as well as I wanted it to, but some things I’ve been working on are showing signs of life. I’ve had plenty of incredibly frustrating times where my income hasn’t been remotely where I want it to be, and times when getting enough work done has been next to impossible. All I can do is keep plugging along.

There have been changes in how I run things. I won a laptop earlier in the year, and that has been a big help in getting time to work. On the other hand, I’ve been homeschooling my oldest daughter since August, and that takes a lot of work time away. Things get pretty hectic at times.

These changes effect my productivity goals. The laptop gives me flexibility, the homeschooling limits my time available during the week.

You have to adjust your goals when things like this happen. It may not be only your business goals that change, however. I also changed my expectations around the house, and learned to ask for more help in keeping the house clean. I ask for more quiet work time on the weekends, while trying to not neglect family time. It’s a doozy of a balance much of the time.

Keep Goals Realistic

Your work goals must be realistic. Goals that you’ll never reach are only so motivating. Lesser goals that take you in the direction of your greater goals are necessary so you know you’re making progress. You may have a goal of becoming a millionaire, for example, but what are the intermediate steps. If you don’t have realistic goals that take you in that direction, eventually you will get tired of that goal and give up.

Let’s start with something simple, say, earning $5000 a month from your home business. It’s not an excessive goal, but it’s one many of us would love to reach.

Depending on where you’re at, that may be too distant a goal or it may be a perfectly reasonable one. For this example, I’ll treat it as a distant goal, something for someone new to running a home business might be dealing with. Most of us aren’t going to hit that goal quickly – in fact, most home businesses earn much less. You need goals you can achieve so you can really feel your progress.

There are many goals you can set that will help you to know that you’re making progress toward that $5000 a month goal. They aren’t all financial, although having a goal of even $100 a month to start isn’t a bad beginning if you’re still at $0 a month. Here are some goals to consider:

  • Website traffic goals: How much traffic would you like to generate? Keep it simple at first, then increase. You may also want to measure this goal by increases, such as increasing your website traffic by 10%, 25%, etc.
  • Talking to people: If you’re more oriented toward talking to people, set a goal for how many people you will talk to about your business. Just don’t get obnoxious about it with your family, friends or people you meet on the street. It’s a great way to become unpopular. You want to pay attention to signals that a person is or is not interested in your opportunity.
  • Writing goals: If you do a lot of writing for your business, set a daily writing goal. Don’t go for pure quantity, make sure there’s some quality in there too. Quality takes longer, but it should benefit your business for a longer time than mass produced dreck will.
  • Lead generation: Set a goal for the number of leads you’re generating. As you meet each goal with this one, plan an increase for the next goal. If you’re starting out, even your first lead may be something to celebrate.
  • Research goals: What do you need to learn to run your business better? Set a goal to learn and apply that new skill. Learning about a new skill is nothing if you never apply it. Don’t set a new goal in this area until you’re actually using the information or have consciously decided that the new information or skill is not something you want to apply to your home business.
  • Social media goals: Don’t make this be just about how many friends or followers you have. Consider your interaction with them as well. You may do well to set goals on how often you reply to other people on social media sites, so long as you keep it real. Social media is great for marketing, but it works best if you’re a real person to the other people on there. Using social media well for business can be a combination of marketing and being a real person, at least if you’re a small or one person business.

As you can see, none of these on their own is about earning $5000. However, they may help you get on the right path toward that more difficult goal.

Analyze Your Efforts

Whether you reach your goals or not, you should be analyzing what went right and what went wrong. This will help you keep from making the same mistakes over and over again.

You may find, for example that in doing your research you tend to skip the step of applying the new things you’ve learned. That’s a lot of time and very possibly money wasted. It’s a very common issue for people running any sort of online business.

You need to figure out why you aren’t applying things you’ve learned to your business. Are you too quickly attracted to bright and shiny product launches? Do you always think they’re too hard to do? Are you really trying to learn the right skill sets for what you’re willing to work on?

Once you know your mistakes you have a better chance of not making that same mistake in the future. That improves your chance of success.

Sometimes things will be beyond your immediate control. You may fail to generate the traffic you hoped to gain because your site fell in the search engine rankings for your best keyword. You can work on that problem once it’s noticed, but it may take time to fix. Knowing where the fall happened will help you figure out what to do about it.

Even when you aren’t reaching your goals as quickly as you’d hoped, it’s vital that you set some sort of reachable goal. It’s one of the things that can motivate you to keep working on what is probably a very challenging business.