It’s a new year eCommerce friend! That means new goals and new plans! While 2020 might have caught us all by surprise it doesn’t mean we can’t try our best to stay focused on continuing to chip away at those goals we have for the new year.
In this week’s episode we’re going step by step through how you can set and manage your own business goals and how to break them down so you can actually achieve them.
To kick off the new year and get you set up for an awesome 2021, I want to chat about planning like an eCommerce Badass.
As small business owners, we tend to figure things out as we go. While that can work — many of us are living proof of that — it can be a lot less stressful if we actually have a rough outline of what we want to focus on for the new year and break that down into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Reflect on 2020 before planning 2021
You’ve heard me talk about this a million times, so I will not go too deep into the Campaign Recap process (check out episode 11 of the podcast to learn more about the campaign recap process)
Sit down and recap, not only for the most recent holiday season, but your year as a whole.
What did you uncover?
By the time you complete these and really start looking at the numbers, you’ll likely figure out things such as which marketing channels you should spend more time on, what products you should put more focus on, what systems you might need to get in place to support your business, whether it’s time to run ads or even if you need to hire some people.
Whatever insights you gain, jot them all down in a big long list. Get them all out of your head and onto paper, whether physical or digital. There’s nothing I like more than a good ol’ brain dump!
What do you want your business to look like in 2021?
Once you brain dump all your thoughts, feelings and ideas, start thinking about what you want your business to look like in 2021.
Start with really high-level questions
Are you still trying to grow your business?
Do you have new revenue numbers or profit numbers you want to hit?
There is a big difference between revenue and profit, so if you’re just chasing those top-level numbers but you’re still not paying yourself a comfortable salary, focus more on the profit piece.
Or maybe you’re at a place where your business is running pretty well on its own. You’re paying yourself a comfortable salary and now you just want to focus on smoothing out those processes so you can put more of your energy somewhere else or start generating a second stream of income.
How does the business fit into the lifestyle you want to create for yourself?
When you’re thinking about what you’re going to focus on in the new year, consider what you actually want the business to look like.
When I first started eCommerce Badassery I was offering ongoing email marketing maintenance. I loved doing email, strategizing regularly, creating the content, etc. In order to scale that, I would no doubt have to build an agency and hire a large team of people to help with the execution of the email marketing for my clients.
And truth be told, I was not about that life.
Building an agency would take me further and further away from my clients. And the one-on-one interaction, brainstorming, and strategizing are what I enjoy most about this business. Digging really deep into someone’s business from all angles, uncovering hidden revenue, operational inefficiencies, generating marketing ideas, and teaching my clients about eCommerce really lights me up. So I knew I would have to pivot away from email marketing maintenance in order to make that possible… and I did.
Using your “why” to drive your goals
If you’re still chasing those revenue numbers, but you’re not really sure why, start asking yourself the hard questions.
Do you really want what comes along with running an eCommerce business that does 8 and 9 figures?
Do you want to manage a team of that size, do you want to potentially take on investors someday and everything that goes along with that?
Are you chasing the numbers because you feel you have to because that’s what everyone else, including your competitors, are doing?
In episode 20 I spoke to Jessica Principe from All Girl Shave Club. After a year or so in business some big players came into her space. VC backed companies were looking to take over her industry and as a small business owner, she had to make a choice. Go down the investor route to compete directly with these new brands or carve out a space all her own in the market.
These questions are so important because it’s really easy to end up building a business you don’t even love or enjoy. When you know where you’re trying to go and why, it’s a lot easier to figure out what you should do next.
Does your insights list line up with your business goals?
When you look at that initial insights list, does it line up with where you want your business to go?
For example, when my business was still in the email marketing maintenance stage, in order to make the business profitable, I would have needed to add 5 more email marketing clients.
But as I mentioned earlier, by asking myself what I wanted the business to look like (personal, 1:1 relationships with my clients, not an agency) it is easy to figure out that adding 5 more clients to my roster doesn’t add up with my goals.
Let’s use a product-based business as an example. Let’s say I sell a product for Mom’s which saw a big uptick in sales for the Mother’s Day Season last year. I also had a lot of customer inquiries about being able to personalize those products.
It’s really easy to say, sure, let’s add personalization because all of my customers are asking for it.
But first, let’s think about what actually goes into adding that feature.
First, I’ll need a way for the customer to tell me what the personalization is when they purchase the product.
Then I’ll need a machine or some sort of tool to execute that or a way to outsource it.
There’s also labor involved because I’ll need someone to do the actual personalization.
And what happens if they mess it up? Can it be fixed, or will that product have to be tossed and then we lose money on it.
Do you want to run a personalization business and take on everything that goes along with that?
One of my clients, who does offer personalization in her business, figured out that it’s really just not profitable and creates more headache than it’s worth. They’re not getting rid of it completely, but will only offer it at certain times of the year.
The point is, when you’re sitting down to make these decisions, you’ll want to look at it from all angles.
Reaching revenue increase goals
Another insight you might have gathered is that you want to increase your revenue — shocker right?
You’ll want to dig a bit deeper and figure out exactly how you’re going to do that. Is it about driving more traffic, is it new products, is it increasing your AOV? It may be a combination of all of these things, but it’s worth it to be as specific as possible.
Using cross-selling to increase revenue
Say you have some lower priced add-on items that don’t get a ton of attention and you know if you could just add one of those items on to half on your existing transactions, you could capture a lot more revenue. One of your first initiatives might be to add a cross-sell app to get that product in front of more of your customers.
Driving traffic to increase revenue
There are a lot of ways you can drive more traffic to your website or product. Do you need to get on social media more and step out as the face of the brand? Is that something you really want to do? I will always encourage you to do so, but I know it’s not for everyone. If you’re not about that life, you might be better off creating partnerships that allow you to get in front of other people’s audiences.
Like I said, the purpose of these first two steps is to figure out what strategies make sense not only to reach your business goals, but to make sure they actually align with your vision for your business and lifestyle.
How to set achievable goals
Okay… so now that you actually know where you’re going, let’s figure out how you’re going to get there.
Map out all important dates for the next year
I don’t expect you to create an entire yearly plan and it’s not necessarily the best option as a small business because you need to adjust and pivot with the market. It’s helpful to have everything mapped out first, so you can reverse engineer your 90 day or quarterly sprints and focuses.
From here you can also set yourself some future deadlines.
If you know you want to get your products featured in gift guides for Holiday 2021, set yourself a marker for when you need to reach out to people. This will typically be in July and August, depending on whether the publication you’re focusing on is print or online.
If you’re going to have seasonal products throughout the year, set reminders for when you need to start production on those items to ensure you have them in hand on time.
And maybe you know that come next holiday you’re going to need more warehouse support, so set a date on when you need to look for those people.
Narrow down your focus
Now that you’ve got those high-level dates set, start thinking about what products you want to focus on.
Is there a specific category you want to push or build out more in your business? Do you have a newer product that needs a little more attention or one that you just haven’t given a lot of love?
If you’re focusing on a specific category of product you know drives the majority of your business, how can you lean into that more? Do you want to buy into that category deeper so you can increase your margin?
Maybe you want to set up a funnel for that new product and create a customer journey around that item you know has the potential to contribute more to your business.
Break down your goals by quarter
Once you’ve got a handle on those high-level goals, you can break them down into a rough outline for the year.
Using the product for Mom that we mentioned earlier as an example:
- Q1 — focus on creating a funnel specifically for that product.
- Q2 — focus on a big Mother’s Day Campaign
- Q3 — focus on getting it into gift guides
- Q4 — focus on selling in Holiday
In addition to the product, let’s think about those marketing and operational insights we found.
Let’s say we figure out that our customer service process is really clunky, so we want to add a customer service platform. We also want to dial in our email marketing a little more. Sure it’s performing, but we think it can do better.
We also want to drive more traffic overall and since we know that partnerships are a big driver for us, we want to create more of those.
Map out your goals by quarter.
- Focus on updating email automations. Get it knocked it out at the beginning of the year so it’s optimized for all initiatives moving forward. Remember, email works for you in the back end to support all your other marketing activities and sells your product for you — so it makes sense to do this first.
- Use this time to do things like tweaking subject lines, updating imagery and content in your emails, test delays, add more content to overcome any new objections you saw pop-up from your customers, etc.
- Continue on email marketing, but in a more holistic sense. Test out different content and focus on list growth. Remember, the majority of sales in Q4 comes from customers who interacted with your brand earlier in the year. So this is a great time to analyze what does and doesn’t work in your email marketing today. Start including more lifestyle content, finally start emailing weekly, or be more intentional with growing your list from social media.
- Implement the customer service platform and create those partnerships. The partnership piece might be something you stretch out of more time as it requires researching, connecting, brainstorming, etc. If your email marketing is more or less dialed in, this is something you might want to start in Q2 instead.
- Focus solely on selling your product and taking advantage of those new found partnerships and email marketing strategies.
Break down your goals into 90 day blocks
After you have each quarter broken down into key tasks and goals, the next step is to plan out the next 90 days and break it down even further.
Of course you can go this deep for each quarter now but if the thought of that is overwhelming, don’t bother. Doing this 90 days at a time is good enough.
Our Q1 goal is to build out a funnel for my Mom product and update my email automation
Determine your deliverables
- A blog post for SEO + attracting organic traffic, with a content upgrade to grow your email list
- Social media content for this product
- Ads specifically for this product, both for cold audiences and remarketing
- A good landing page for this product. It may be your existing product detail page (PDP) that you beef up with new and better content or an entirely new page
- Updated images
- Updated email sequence specifically for this product
Prioritize what you need to work on first and set some timelines for when you need that work to be completed.
Weekly goal break down
- Week 1 & 2 — Keyword and content research for the blog post. This is the MOST important step because once you understand their language and their objections, you can create content that speaks directly to them — this is going to drive everything else you do. Not just the blog post, but your ads, your social content, the landing page, the email series… everything.
- Week 3 — Research done.
- Week 4 — Write the blog post and create the content upgrade.
- Week 5 — Update the landing page.
- Week 6 — Take update photos.
- Week 7 — Create the email sequence.
- Week 8 — Create and launch the ads. This gives you a few weeks to test your ads and tweak your content as needed to really dial it in. It’s okay if you don’t get everything 100% correct from the jump. That’s what the data is for. By the end of Q1, you should have this entire funnel set up and dialed in. Then you can just let it run and move onto the next initiative. You’ve also got time to update the rest of your email automations as well.
- Week 9 — Go through and look at the results of your existing automations. If you’re not sure what those numbers should be, visit my Free Resource Library. In there is a PDF all about email marketing which will give you benchmarks for your email automations based on your industry.
- Week 10 — Take that data and determine what you need to update. If your open rates are low, focus on the subject lines. If click rates are low, focus on the content and calls to action. If conversion is low, look at the content but focus specifically on your messaging. Do you need to overcome objections, speak more to the emotion behind purchasing your product?
Spend the next few weeks actually updating the content. Let it run for another 90 days and check back to see if your numbers improved.
Are you starting to see how to break down these high-level goals and prioritize them for your business?
Once you’ve got a handle on this, you can then just repeat the process each quarter. Start with your high-level goals.
Science-backed goal setting
The more granular, the more focused, the smaller chunks you create, the easier it will be for you to make progress and actually accomplish your goals.
And science backs this concept! Each of those tasks you complete progresses you forward. You’ll get a dopamine hit that rewards you for that small win and keeps you excited to keep moving forward.
If you’re not convinced, think about a time when you had multiple goals but only achieved half of them. If you’re like most humans, you likely focused on the ones you didn’t hit instead of those you did. Then you end up in a negative spiral, feeling unaccomplished, like you’re always behind.
There’s nothing wrong with having big goals, dream big — but when you’re really trying to get shit done, break it down as small as you can to give yourself some momentum. Make it easy to wrap your head around, make it feel like it’s easier to accomplish.
When it comes to creating and actually hitting goals for yourself, this is a lot easier to accomplish when you get super specific and give yourself a slew of tiny wins to stack on top of each other.
Dave Ramsey recommends this same strategy when paying off debt, he always says to pay off your smallest balance first, regardless of the interest rate. The entire reason for this is to give yourself a win of getting rid of one of those balances in its entirety. It has nothing to do with whether it’s the cheapest one, it’s all about giving yourself that small win and building that momentum.
My husband and I both have student loans, his being significantly larger than mine thanks to my first few years being at a state school.
Because his is big, it seems like we should try to pay that one down first. But then we’re just perpetually paying two loans and feeling like we’ve made little to no progress vs. if we just wiped mine out and then only had to pay one. It’s a little mindset shift to trick our brains and keep us motivated and feeling accomplished.
This article talks more about this concept and a study which talks about why our brains like short-term goals.
Planning isn’t sexy. It feels like SO MUCH work upfront. And it is. But it’s worth putting in the work upfront so you can see better results moving forward and keep yourself on track.
Need help figuring this out for your own business? find me on Instagram at ecommerce badassery or book a free clarity call to see if I can support you in this. Brainstorming people’s businesses is legit my favorite thing to do!
Listen to the Episode
Episode 20: Interview with Jessica Principe