Want to learn how to set business goals that you KNOW you’ll achieve?
Something people ask me about ALL the time is how I grew my own business so fast. In my first year, I made $1 million and now, a few years later, I run a multiple 7-figure business.
Today, I share what it takes to strategically set first-year goals that you WILL achieve.
Want to dive right in? Let’s go.
What is goal setting for business?
If there’s ONE thing every business owner should get right, it’s goal setting.
Think about it: If you don’t have any goals, how will you know where your business is going… And at what pace?
The types of business goals you set and how you set them can have a HUGE impact on your results.
I should know. Without my goals, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Why do you need to set business goals?
Building a business is demanding enough as it is.
The RIGHT goal setting can remove most of the uncertainty you feel about your business (note: you can’t remove ALL uncertainty, which we’ll talk more about below, but you can success-proof your business against things you can’t plan for).
My goal-setting process goes something like this:
1) Set the right business goals.
First, think about what your goal is. Make it achievable by making it challenging, but not so challenging that you can’t imagine hitting your goal.
2) Reverse-engineer your goals.
Most people will set a goal and be done with it. Not you! Today, you learn how to reverse-engineer your goals so that you will achieve them, no matter what.
3) Believe in your goals.
To achieve a goal, you need to believe in it — truly believe in it. You need to have some experience in reaching your goal.
4) Learn from your goals.
And finally, we ALL fail at one point or another. That’s why you should take every goal you fail to achieve as an opportunity to grow… So that you can achieve your next goal.
By following this system, you can get those results you need to quit your 9-5 and build your business or further scale your business to multiple 6 and 7-figures. Just like my client did here…
“Barely a month & I landed my first 3 clients-from scratch. Now I have a six-figure business with a 90% profit margin.” – Summer W.
How do you set the right goals for your business?
Too often, I see people set their business goals in the wrong way. They’ll say something like:
“This quarter or this year, I’m going to hit my goal and grow my business to six figures.”
I’ll tell you what it is:
Most of them have never built a business.
What this means is that most of them don’t know how to find clients, sell, or market their businesses.
And too often, the quarter or year ends… And nothing has happened.
They aren’t closer to 6-figures (or even 5-figures).
They’re often WORSE off than where they were before because now, they’re discouraged by their lack of progress.
You know, I love big goals. I don’t think goals need to be “realistic.” (What does that even mean?)
In fact, research shows that by setting specific, time-constrained and challenging goals, your performance improves 90% of the time.
Here’s a quick video I put together for you on this:
But if you pull a goal from thin air without a clue about how you’re going to reach it, it’s a dream, not a goal.
Your goal has to be somewhat grounded in reality. For example: Someone who has never built a business before shouldn’t focus on making six figures in six months. Instead, if this is you, you should focus on getting your first client.
On the other hand, it’s completely realistic for someone to come to me and say:
“I’ve made $10,000 in my business. I know the basics of who my audience is and sales and I want to make six figures in the next four months.”
Why? Because they already know the basics. They have the fundamental pieces in place. Now it’s more about scaling.
If you know the action steps you need to take to reach your goal, it becomes doable. But if you’re randomly setting a goal, you won’t believe in it and you certainly won’t achieve it.
When setting your goal, ask yourself:
Does your goal feel scary, but you know how you’re going to achieve it?
If yes, you’re on the right track.
How I chose my goals early on in my business
When I started my business, I didn’t have a business idea. In fact, I randomly happened to come across the idea that would eventually become my first business, ads consulting, while checking out a Facebook group.
In the beginning, I had zero credibility. And certainly no clients.
Which meant I needed to come up with a system for setting goals.
Look, I am MASSIVELY risk averse.
The way I’ve always approached my goals is to ask myself what the smallest and most risk-free way is to achieve my goal.
I test my idea on a very small scale to see if I can make it happen. Then, I think about how to scale my idea, step by step.
That’s why my first goal was to get ONE client to see if my services were actually something people cared about.
I was dead focused on that one client because I figured that if I could sell to one person, I could get another client, and so forth.
So once I got a client who said “Yes!” when I shared my price, I could move on to the next level of my goal-setting system — to see for myself that it wasn’t just a fluke.
Continue to the next small goal
Next, I focused on getting my next three clients.
After I had achieved THAT goal, I looked around and thought, “How can I take what I’ve been doing and double it and go from three to six clients?”
I did just that and soon enough, I had booked my next six clients.
At this point, I wanted to start scaling my business so I moved on to selling out my small group program. Again, I didn’t go for six figures all at once.
Instead, my goal was to make $5-10k from my group program launch.
The good news was:
I knew I had an offer that sold, a launch strategy, and a certain number of people in my audience. I knew I could get some people to buy — but I also knew that I wasn’t ready for 6-figures just yet.
So when my first group program earned me $8,000, I crossed off that goal.
Now you can go higher!
When I had reached this point, I had my launch methodology in place and I knew my numbers better than ever.
THIS is when I started thinking about six figures. My next goal was to make $100,000 by launching my online course.
This goal was definitely a stretch for me. I didn’t have a huge audience and I had never done anything like it before.
But I knew that with the data I had and the confidence I had built, I could take what I had in my business and scale it.
After all, the math was clear: If I converted a certain number of people at a certain price, I would reach my goal and make $100,000.
See the difference? If I had NEVER had any clients in my business, I would have been creating a methodology from scratch. Most likely, I wouldn’t have had a successful launch.
But with the sales I had made in my business (even if they weren’t close to $100,000), I already had a base to build on. I knew exactly what steps I needed to take to reach my goal.
How I went from $100,000 to $1,000,000
I used these exact steps to go higher and higher in my goal setting. Once I had hit my $100,000 launch, I moved on to $1 million.
The goal felt SCARY. I had no idea if I could actually get there.
Truth be told, my initial goal was to make $300,000 with my next launch.
But this is where the support of my mentors became invaluable.
One of them said, “Why don’t you make that goal a bit bigger and aim for $1 million?”
I looked at my numbers and it hit me:
To hit $1 million, I would need to sell my $3,000 program to 300 people.
I had already had a $100,000 launch, so this goal didn’t seem totally unachievable…
With all of that in mind, I asked myself:
“How many people would I need to add to my email list based on past numbers?”
Overcoming fears and insecurities
When I knew all my numbers to a T, I still factored in the human piece of it. Because 300 customers aren’t just a number, they’re people. How could I really wrap my head around helping 300 people?
At that point, I had worked with around 50 people. 300 was going to be a totally different ball game.
To get past any insecurity I was feeling, I put 300 post-its on my wall describing what it was going to be like working with each of these people, what they were going to be like, how they were going to feel about me, and so forth.
This made it feel real.
After all, there’s a big difference in thinking about each individual you want to convert as a “lead” or “customer” instead of a human with thoughts, emotions, and fears.
The reason this was so effective?
Visualization has helped countless people achieve their goals. For example, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps used visualization. This helped him set a world record even while his goggles were filled with water.
And as a study of 183 entrepreneurs shows, the average growth of companies with a vision was more than double that of companies without a vision.
How to achieve that BIG goal — no matter what
When I started working on this goal, I didn’t have enough people on my email list. It was definitely going to take a lot to get all those subscribers I needed.
The thing about achieving big goals is this: Once I have decided on a goal, I plan around it as if I’m going to hit it. I’m not thinking, “Well, we’ll see…”. Instead, I do everything possible to hit it. I have a specific timeline for when I’m going to hit my goal, which is key.
If my projections aren’t where they would need to be at a certain point in time, I still show up and do the work. I follow my plan and execute it.
In this case, even if $1 million felt far off, I stayed in the energy and didn’t allow myself to give up on it. Every morning, I woke up with my eyes on my goal.
Ultimately, I didn’t hit $1 million, but I did make $800,000. That was way more than the $300,000 I had initially planned for and catapulted my business to a million-dollar business in my first year.
How to decide on YOUR goal
With this in mind, where are you in your business right now?
Think about where you ultimately want to be and then break it down into bite-sized goals. I knew that I wanted a multimillion-dollar business and an audience of hundreds of thousands of people. I didn’t think I would hit it in my first year, but I did think I could get my first clients and start building my business. Those were my bite-sized first-year business goals and from there, I grew it step-by-step.
For example, have you just started building your business?
Great, then focus on getting your FIRST client. That’s it.
After that, think about your next 3-5 clients. Then, maybe a group program or an online course.
If you’ve already had a good number of clients in your business, you can start thinking about six figures and more.
The thing is:
You need to earn the right to set bigger and bigger goals.
You might be thinking:
“I want to achieve my goal FAST. This feels too slow…”
Ever heard of the hockey stick growth curve?
Basically, it’s a startup growth curve. First, you have slow growth. Once you come to a breaking point, that growth accelerates and goes pretty much straight up (like a hockey stick, get it?).
That’s the type of growth YOU want to achieve.
By setting the right foundations and focusing on the goal in front of you, you are setting yourself up for long-term (and ultimately fast) growth.
When I was in my 9-5, I was making six figures. It would have been easy to focus on what was bringing in the money (my job) instead of working on my business, especially when things felt tough and even impossible.
That’s when I re-focused and thought about it this way:
I didn’t make six figures in my day job from day one. And it’s the same with building a business. I realized that no one starts off successful in business. Instead, it takes time to build.
That’s why you need to start with Step #1 and slowly but surely continue to set business goals that are increasingly ambitious.
The foolproof method for achieving your goals
As a former Space Station engineer, I think about goal-setting in a different way than many. You see, I focus relentlessly on the numbers.
And that’s why I developed a foolproof method for achieving my goal by reverse-engineering them.
What this means is that I think about what my goal is AND how I will hit it (as you’ll see, I’m VERY methodical in my approach).
How I reverse-engineer my goals
My process has always been the same, even when I didn’t have sophisticated marketing systems or a team.
Here’s how it works:
I start by setting business goals on a monthly and yearly basis. You can use this process to set short-term goals for a business, as well as plan out your 5-year and 10-year goals.
I write down my goal and a plan where I outline how I’ll hit it. (Fun fact: Research shows that those who write down their goals are far more likely to achieve them.)
Of course, the goals I write down look different today than they did at the beginning of my business.
Back then, I would write down a goal like: “Get one new client.”
That’s when I would think about what activities I needed to work on to get that client. And those were the ONLY activities I focused on in my business.
Today, I’ll set revenue numbers for myself and then think about how I’ll hit those based on the data I have.
I also have specific tasks I do all the time, like my YouTube videos, my blog posts, or my newsletters.
For example, if I want to sell out a program, I look at it this way:
How many products (in my case, online courses) do I need to sell to get to my revenue goal?
So, I look at my existing audience. How many people can I expect to convert?
Once I’ve calculated how much I’ll make from audience members who buy my program, I know the remaining number of sales I need to make to make up the difference.
That’s when I create a plan for myself to make those extra sales.
Can I add things that increase the average order size, like upsells, or can I increase conversion rates?
Do I run paid ads? Partner with affiliate partners? And what can I expect the conversion rate to be for this?
Maybe I can publish a guest post in a publication like Business Insider and do livestreams on social media.
Once I know all this, these are the ONLY things I focus on in my business. I don’t run around trying to do a gazillion different things. Instead, I buckle down and get to work.
The strategy behind an online business is pretty simple.
You need leads and sales in your business.
Those are the things you need to focus on.
So decide, based on where you are in your business, how to get there.
If you’re just starting your business, you should focus on 3 online communities where you market your business. (Read my guide here!)
If you’re further ahead, you can focus on other ways to get clients. (Read about them here.)
Or if you’re building your online course, there are specific actions you need to take. (You can find my online course guide here.)
Why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket
That said, any sort of business advice that has you blindly following ONE way of doing something is massively flawed. And it will most likely fail.
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you’ve decided to get clients by pitching a guest post. Well, instead of pitching just one publication, you pitch several. If one publication rejects you, you have options.
The same goes for Facebook groups or other online communities if you’re using them to get clients. You engage in different communities, instead of hoping that one will do.
As you can see, this is not about overwhelming yourself. Instead, it’s about using several versions of the same strategy.
How to make sure you get your tasks done
You have a plan and you have tasks to execute… But how do you make sure that you get them done, no matter what?
What I’ve done from the start is that I schedule everything.
I’m super detailed so that I don’t give myself any leeway.
For example, when I was starting out, I would work on my business during lunch hours, mornings, and evenings. Everything was scheduled.
Does this mean that I’m a robot who executes tasks no matter what? Of course not. For example, when I was building my business, I was also working a demanding 6-figure job.
Some days, I would skip my tasks. But I ALWAYS made sure to get them done every day after that.
It’s kind of like working out or losing weight. You know that you need to take action to get to where you want to be. Some days, you might lapse. But if you keep things up consistently, you WILL succeed.
The “secret” to effective goal-setting: Mindset
The key to hitting your goal is, in the end, to believe in them. And there’s a difference between trying to believe in your goal versus actually believing in it.
The first time I read the popular book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, I tried everything the book said I should be doing. I wrote on a piece of paper that by a specific date, I would make $30,000 in my business.
The only problem was: At that point, I had made $0 in my business.
That’s why, deep down, I didn’t believe in my goal. I hadn’t sold a single unit in my business, so how could I have?
On the other hand, when I made $1 million in my business in my first year, I first started with what I could believe. I had a plan that I knew worked (because I had already made a significant amount of money in my business) and that I was going to follow through on.
I firmly believed in my goal despite any setbacks and rejections. I had created proof for myself bit by bit so that I could build that belief.
That’s why I was able to eventually hit that goal. And that’s why I didn’t make $30,000 when I was just starting to build my business.
Note that even if I HADN’T earned $1 million in my first year, I would have continued to believe in it and found ways to reach it. It’s not about achieving your goal right off the bat, but persisting until you do. And that takes us to the next chapter…
What to do when you don’t hit your goal
The beauty of reverse-engineering your goal is this:
Once you have set business goals and you have a plan, you don’t need to worry about things outside of your control.
You know that based on your past experience, you probably will hit your goal if you take specific action.
But you don’t know for sure. You never can because there’s that human element you just can’t factor in.
I’ve had plenty of goals in the past that I haven’t achieved. Affiliate sales that didn’t pan out the way I expected them to, launches that didn’t generate as much as I had planned, guest posts that didn’t get the number of subscribers I anticipated them to…
Because you simply won’t hit every goal you have, you shouldn’t get too attached to your goals.
In fact, if you’re hitting your goals every month, ask yourself if you need to set higher goals.
How to use every goal you don’t achieve as a way to grow
When you don’t hit your goals, revisit them.
Where did your estimates fall short? What happened and what can you learn from this?
For example, the first time I tried to sell my high-end coaching package via email, I didn’t make a single sale.
But, I didn’t just give up. Instead, I started to analyze why I didn’t reach my goal.
Was it the email itself? I noticed that the open rates were good, but people just weren’t booking sales calls.
Next, I looked at the number of people I had on my email list, which, at the time, were a couple of hundred subscribers. As I had already had clients who had hired me for coaching, I realized that the reason for my lack of sales could be my audience size.
I also looked at where the majority of my clients came from. It turned out that they came from watching my live streams. The way they connected with me was very different in live streams versus my emails.
This made me realize that while in the future, my email list could work as a sales channel, I first had to grow my list. I also learned that email wasn’t necessarily the best way to sell my coaching packages and that instead, people needed a deeper relationship before buying from me.
So instead of obsessing about the fact that email didn’t work for me, I continued doing what worked to bring in more clients (live streams).
Another similar example is when I, early on in my business, got my first client and charged $5,000. I thought this meant that I was set and could just continue selling at this price.
Little did I know… Over the next 30 calls, everyone I talked to said no.
The reason? My first client trusted me on a very deep level because I had spent two weeks helping her for free. But I couldn’t keep on helping every potential client for free for two weeks.
So I reconsidered my offer. I COULD continue selling it for $5,000 and eventually get a client. Or, I could get some quick wins by lowering my price.
I opted for the latter and dropped my price to $1,500. After a few clients had converted at this price (and I was feeling much more confident about my offer), I raised my rate back to $5,000 and didn’t look back.
In the same way, I’ll have clients who want to achieve a big goal, like earning $20k in a month. If they don’t hit it, I ask them to break down what happened. What did they actually do? Did they take all the steps they were supposed to? And if they did, where did their estimation fall short?
At the end of the day, if you’re systematically working towards hitting your goals and revisiting them, you will improve in one way or another every month. Keep that in mind and remind yourself of how much you’ve improved.
For example, maybe you didn’t hit that $10,000 goal this month, but you made $6,000, which is more than you’ve made so far. And now you know what went wrong this month, so you can achieve your goal the next month instead.
How to prepare for failure
A big mistake so many new entrepreneurs make is to take failure as proof they’re not going to make it.
But that’s not how it works.
Instead, take failure as part of the process. It’s a learning opportunity that will help you grow.
In fact, you should plan for failure. Hope for success, but also plan for failure.
When I was planning for my $1 million launch, I asked myself:
“What’s the worst-case scenario that can happen? How can I be prepared for it?”
I estimated that I would need to spend $80,000 on ads to be able to hit my goal. (Keep in mind, this was after I had a proven process and knew how to run ads. I didn’t start with this number and I only made this investment once I had a lot of experience in running ads and launching.)
But I didn’t go out there and spend $80K at once. Instead, I asked myself what I was comfortable spending. That’s why I started by spending $30,000.
After I had made $100,000 in sales in one day, I moved to spend the rest of my budget. If I wouldn’t have made any more sales, I would have broken even, which I was something I would have been comfortable with.
This way, I planned for failure before going all in and minimized my risks.
How to get past rejection
When thinking about your goal, ask yourself:
“What do I do if I get rejected?”
For example, people will easily get discouraged if a potential client says “no” on a sales call. That’s when you have to plan for them to say “yes,” but also think about how you’ll react if they say “no.” Are you going to let that drop your energy?
You can do what I used to do when I was first starting out. Write a note to yourself in case you don’t get a sale where you remind yourself of your worth and your goals. Take a deep breath and feel sad. Then, think about what you learned from the experience.
Rejection is part of the process. Today, I have a multiple 7-figure business. I’ve been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, and Entrepreneur. I’ve worked with thousands of students, I have mountains of testimonials, and I’ve spoken in front of thousands of people on live events like Gary V Live.
And I still get rejected all the time. Take this podcast pitch I sent. The podcast host got back to me and said it wasn’t a fit.
That’s fine. It has nothing to do with my credentials. Rejection is just part of the game, but by looking past your rejections, you will start achieving your goals so much faster.
What’s your goal THIS month?
There you have it. Now you know how to set business goals and achieve them. These strategies helped me scale my business to over six figures in four months and $1 million in my first year.
Now, over to you:
What goal are you going to achieve this month?
Let me know in the comments below.