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5 Steps to Goal Planning for Your Business

Updated: Jan 17

Have you ever watched a TED Talk where a big-time executive spoke about getting lucky with their success? No. That’s because no business succeeds without clearly defined business goals! Truthfully, we can’t succeed in life without setting goals so why would we think a business can succeed the same way?! If you’re having a hard time coming up with business goals, stick with us - we have five steps that make goal planning for your business easier than you think it might be. The best part? Your business goals will be achievable.

Ready to set some business goals? Let’s go.

Goal Planning Strategy

The first step to creating a goal map is to take out some sticky notes or open up a Google Doc and start thinking about what you want your business to achieve this year. That’s right - we’re doing a sticky note exercise. So, let’s plot out a few business goals according to the 5 main goal categories:

goal planning sticky note exercise

Financial goals

  • Increase revenue

  • Grow business savings by 10%

Customer-based goals

  • Receive more Google Reviews

  • Reduce call wait times

Employee goals

  • Create a fully-paid employee retreat

  • Start a training program

Growth goals

  • Grow social following

  • Drive more website traffic

Social goals

  • Donate financially to organizations

  • Sponsor a community event

These are pretty basic but still easy to plot out, right? So, keep doing that. Plot out ALL of the things you want your business to achieve and stick each note to a wall. Then step back.

Now, divide each sticky note into two categories:

  • Short Term: goals you can achieve each month or each quarter

  • Long Term: goals that will take longer to plan out and achieve

Be realistic as you’re moving your goals into each category. Every goal you plotted out is going to require a lot of work and planning to make it happen. Look at each goal critically and think about the planning and execution involved in making those goals happen. You might find that the goals are too lofty and need to be scaled down - that’s OK, take it down a notch and place it into the right category. Once you have a great set of goals plotted into the right category, think about whether that goal can be achieved. Sometimes goals need to be very long term like over the course of a few years. Don’t take it off the board, set it aside so you can plot out what it takes to achieve that business goal over time.

Need help figuring out whether your business goals are attainable, try our SMART business goal sheet.

Preparing Your Business Goal Map

By this point, you should have a set of achievable goals. Now you need to prepare a business goal map. This takes information from your SMART business goal sheet and turns it into something actionable. You don’t need anything fancy for this - you need an excel spreadsheet or Google sheet.

First, you’re going to take all of the goals from your wall and plot them out like this:

business goal planning in google sheets

It’s OK if you don’t have a goal in every category. Next, you’ll take the information from your SMART business goal sheet and plug them into new tabs that are related to your goal category, like this:

financial goal: SMART goal planning for business

Create a new area in your sheet to help you build out your plan by asking yourself more information related to your goal. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How will you get to this goal? In the examples above, we built out the goal but we asked ourselves how many new clients will we need to make that goal a reality?

  • What actions are needed to make this goal a reality? In the example provided, we mapped out the following:


  • Break out services so they are each one full page

  • Add an announcement bar at the top of the site informing visitors that we’re taking on new clients

  • Create relevant content related to our business and place it on the website

  • Create lead-gen forms related to specific lines of business we want to grow and build new revenue streams from


  • Because an authority on TikTok for services related to ours

  • Join small business LinkedIn groups and become more active

  • Go offline and socialize at networking events within the community

  • Who is needed to make this happen? When we ask this, we are really asking who is responsible and are there any third-parties involved that can help. In the example above, we’re looking at naming someone, like the CEO and a new business team, that can devote time to going after new clients to improve revenue.

  • How long will it take to complete each task? This one seems self-explanatory but based on the actions needed, we need to plot out time frames to complete each action.

Those are just some of the questions to ask yourself but this is what the outcome should look like:

building out a business goal

Prioritize Your Goals

Every blog post similar to this one will tell you to set goals that motivate you but, if we’re being honest, your goals should motivate you no matter what. But we want to work smarter, not harder and you need more than motivation to achieve your business goals. You need to prioritize your business goals.

Think back to your sticky note exercise. You placed your goals into two categories: short term and long term. We already know that there’s planning involved no matter which category you try to tackle first, so here’s a better way to prioritize your goals:

  • Find similarities in goals. When you find goals that are similar in relation but technically achieve different things, you want to make a note of that because you don’t want to do the same work twice. Don’t combine them but look for overlaps in how you tactically achieve both goals. E.g., grow your social following and increase blog traffic goals have similar tactical output to growing revenue.

Example of cross over goal
  • Tackle low hanging fruit. Short term goals usually have less barriers to entry but it’s the lower barriers that you’re really looking for. If you want to provide a bonus to every employee for the holidays, calculate how much you want to provide each employee with and start figuring out how to save money. This goal should take a lot less time to figure out and plan for than increasing blog traffic.

  • Fix what’s broken. Sometimes you have to take a holistic look at your business and ask yourself what’s currently broken that may hinder achieving your business goals. Make a list and fix those issues. E.g., You want to increase your online bookings but when people get to the booking page, it’s overwhelming and disorganized. You can’t achieve that goal if you don’t clean up the booking page and make it easier for people to use.

Create Your Business Plan of Action

Alright, we’re going to get real with you: in order to achieve your business goals you need to create a marketing strategy. There. We said it. Digital marketing (and even offline marketing) needs to be part of your plan to make things happen. Building a digital marketing strategy doesn’t have to be grueling but it’s necessary because you need to understand which traffic channels and marketing arms to activate; who you want to go after; how you should go after them; and then plan for it. And your output for a specific customer journey may look something like this:

business plan of action output in customer journey

Use Your Business Plan of Action

By the time you get to this part of your business goal planning, you already created a kick-ass plan…so why aren’t you using it? You took the time to create it - now’s the time to activate it. If you need to, employ some project management tools like Asana to start the process. But, if you’re afraid it won’t work and you won’t achieve your business goal then your plan is dead in the water. Your goals won’t be achieved if you don’t tactically execute the plan. Don’t let fear hold you back. And, remember to be flexible because plans and people change. Trust your gut and get to work.

Get Help with Goal Planning

use a digital marketing coach to help you with your business goals

Sometimes we get overwhelmed - and that’s OK! But, when you get overwhelmed by the goal planning process, work with a digital marketing coach who can help you build it all out. Working with an outside professional has benefits like not being too close to your business where they can’t stay impartial; or breaking things down into easier tasks while helping you stay focused on the end goal. When you feel like you’re in over your head with business goal planning, get help.

get help with digital marketing


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