Setting Goals for Online Businesses

Every entrepreneur, both the online type and the brick-and-mortar variety, needs to know how to set goals. For Internet businesses, there are some specific ways to do this correctly and many methods for measuring progress over time. Especially for startups, it is essential that data be collected from day-one. That way, periodic measurement can tell an owner whether the enterprise is successful or not at any given moment. Setting goals and understanding how to measure the results are two of the most important skills a business owner can possess. For online companies, there is really no other way to know where the money is going and whether all the work is paying off.

Realistic Goals and Measurable Progress

For Internet business owners, data is power. Even those new to online entrepreneurship can set specific goals and keep accurate records. Management experts say that business and financial goals need to be written down, should be specific and attainable, should be relevant to the nature of the company, and should be measurable. What does that mean for someone who begins, for example, an online consulting service?

Case Study: “Fred, Inc.”

“Fred’s Concise Consulting Company,” to use a fictitious example, might start out with a simple website that offers Fred’s services as a tax consultant at a specific hourly rate. Perhaps Fred works as an accountant for a corporation as his day job and wants to earn a few extra dollars by selling his expertise via an online business. Fred should decide how many hours per week he can devote to the new effort, how many hours he wants to devote, should write a detailed business plan to include the number of customers he hopes to attract in the first 90 days, and should create a pro-forma budget of estimated expenses and income.

Fred might list one of his primary goals as: Attract 1,000 views per month to the website, and sign consulting contracts with 2 new customers per month. Each new customer contract should be worth at least $1,250 before taxes. I will reach this level of performance within the first 60 days of operation.”

Specific goals like those are ideal for new business owners. They are a good example of goals that are numeric, measurable, attainable (we’re assuming Fred is being realistic within his business niche), pertain directly to his financial success (for consultants, the more contracts, the better) and are tied to a designated time period.

Later on, Fred can easily measure the number of views his page gets, the number of contracts he has signed and the amount of money his new clients have paid him. Of course, this is an over-simplified example in many ways, but it makes the point that planning is vitally important for business owners, especially those who work online with clients they may never meet, and in a sea of competition that varies from day to day.

Smart entrepreneurs will regularly assess their progress against a set of specific, measurable criteria in order to know where they stand at any given point in time. Realistic goals and measurable progress: two of the most crucial components of online business success.