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Setting Objectives For Your Solo Or Freelance Business: Template

Setting Objectives For Your Solo Or Freelance Business: Template

Let's take a slightly more rigorous and grounded approach to goal and objectives setting as a freelance or solo business owner and operator.

Models For This Step

We've all read or heard about the importance of goal setting. From the countless methods and frameworks to inspiring stories of entrepreneurs who wrote down their goals and eventually ticked off everything on their lists; by now there's a widespread appreciation for the value of goal setting, as an exercise.

Awareness of, or an appreciation for, goal setting isn't the only problem, though. And it isn't what we'll be weighing in on here, in this post.

What I'd like to address, instead, is:

  • How can we set more realistic goals for ourselves, from the outset?
  • How can we increase follow-through?
  • How can we better hold ourselves accountable, as solo of freelance business owners? and
  • How can we keep track of our progress, without it being another tedious chore added to our already busy schedules?
The approach we've taken in attempting to solve these questions can be summarized in two words: reduce friction.

Reduce friction in the process of forecasting and planning our targets--so that our objectives are grounded and achievable.

Reduce friction in the availability of our goals and targets, so that the excitement we felt while setting them doesn't disappear so easily.

Reduce friction to viewing our progress, and holding ourselves accountable by the data available.

And to reduce friction by making it as simple as possible to log or input any progress made, in a workspace we already visit frequently.

Those are the main goals of the Objectives, Actions and Key Projects stack that's linked to this block, but also the intention of this Objectives setting block and system.

You can use the Causal model above to give a quick reality check on any targets or figures for your business objectives. Then duplicate this block and integrate it into your own Notion workspace so that you have a clear, present Objectives tracker that helps hold you accountable--across any and all business areas.

Below, we'll walk through the main elements of the Causal model and the Notion workspace attached to this block. If you'd like to link this Objectives tracker to your projects, campaigns and task management systems, feel free to follow on with the remaining blocks in this stack.

Solo Business Objectives Checker: Using the Causal Model

Inputs

Current

Enter the current value for any objective you're setting for yourself.

Target

Enter the target value you'd like to reach by the moment specified in your timeline.

Timeline (months)

This is the number of months before reaching your stated objective value.

Growth Rate Input

This is a starting growth rate that you can decide and input, based on what you feel is reasonable. It will be useful to check this against the 'Growth Rate Needed' value produced at the bottom of this model.

Charts & Outputs

Growth Value Per Month

This chart shows the added value being introduced each month. If, for example, you objective was measuring 'Website Visits', this chart would show the number of new visitors needed, on top of last month's traffic.

Monthly Value

This shows the total value for a given metric and objective, month over month, based on your inputs.

Monthly Growth vs. Monthly Totals

This chart simply plots the two outputs above on the same chart for comparison.

Value At End Of Timeline

This will show the monthly value at the end of the period stated. So, if you set your timeline value for '6 months', this figure will show the value of your objective, at the inputted growth rate, in 6 months' time.

Growth Rate Needed

This outputs the monthly growth rate (as a percentage) that would be required to meet your target in the timeline given.

Setting Objectives: Main Fields

Areas

Areas describe core functionalities of business. Where these might be 'departments' in larger companies, for solo businesses it might be more appropriate to simply think of these as areas of business.

Pre-built into this template are 9 key business areas.

Marketing

For all advertising and distribution efforts.

Content

For all content-related goals such as content creation and engagement.

Financials

For business and personal financial goals. From monthly revenue to cashflow thresholds and personal savings goals.

Product

If you have a product or core offering that you're developing, list any objectives for its build here.

Services

If your primary offering is service-based, list objectives for services delivery like 'keep project onboarding under 60 minutes'.

Legal

This can be as simple as setting a target date to have all legal requirements in place. Or it may be a longer term goal to not have any issues arise.

Community

This is where we list objectives regarding our audience, customer base and/or community. Customer success goals—like customer feedback—can also be listed here.

Human Resources

This would typically be a department job, but for solo businesses the area of 'human resources' has to do with taking care of our own wellbeing, engagement and documentation. It also covers any goals for outsourcing work and hiring (if you do any).

The Business

This is where we set objectives for the larger business vision and mission. Objectives aren't always the best place for this one, but as a key area—thinking about and working on the business itself is an important regular executive function.

Target & Current

Before setting these figures, you'll need to know your metric.

The target and current fields are set as number values—so you won't be able to input the name of the metric in the input box: 'e.g. 1000 Sales'

Instead, simply input the number value for your goal, then link the metric below.

Check-In Date

Rather than strict deadlines, we have preset a 'check-in date' for each objective you set. This is because often we'll want to set an objective without having all the information we need to set an accurate target.

At the time of creating the objective, we can simply give our best estimate, with a target check-in date to see how things are progressing.

If you reach your check-in date and you're not close to your target, or perhaps you've blown right by it, you can adapt your objective target accordingly.

  • You can always use the check-in date as your target date on an objective.

Metrics

The metrics field is linked to the 'Metrics' database. This way, you can add rich information about each metric, such as 'source', 'rollups' and 'links' for better filtering and navigation.

Progress

The progress field is a formula set to display a percentage value for the current / target values in the given m

There are two fields that make up this bar, although by default only the progress 'bar' shows:

  1. A formula calculating the percentage value for the current / target proportion;
  2. A formula converting this value into the more aesthetic circular progress bar you'll see across your dashboards.

Objective Types

In the database, there are two types of objectives you can keep track of:

  • Action; and
  • Outcome

Action Objectives

These describe process goals you'd like to set and reach in your business. It might be something like 'publish 1 article per week' or 'work no more than 40 hours per week' or 'get to bed before 11pm every evening'.

Outcome Objectives

On the other hand, often we'd like to set objectives which track 'what happens'. We might work 40 hours, publish an article every week and get to bed early—but what does it all equate to in terms of business outcomes?

Common business outcomes include: 'Website visitors', 'Sales', 'Monthly Revenue', 'Followers', etc.

You can see that the line may blur on some objectives, but it's best to think of the distinction:

Action Objectives are fully in our control. Outcome Objectives are indirectly in our control.

Action objectives are useful for helping us describe goals that are within our control.

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