As a digital entrepreneur — from selling products to customers online to providing services to global organizations — goal-setting is critical for your success. But digital entrepreneurs operate in a specialized arena that presents unique challenges and opportunities. Those considerations color the process of setting business goals — beyond revenue projections or client numbers — that truly will propel your digital venture forward.
Read on for ideas to help you choose business goals for digital entrepreneurs that will drive lasting success. But first …
What exactly is a digital entrepreneur?
Digital entrepreneurs are people who start online businesses and operate nearly exclusively online. An Etsy shop owner who sells crafts online is a digital entrepreneur. A software developer who creates apps or a consultant who helps clients optimize their online performance are all digital entrepreneurs — if you sell and run your business solely online, you’re a digital entrepreneur.
There are countless reasons why people enter digital entrepreneurship. Some want to travel the world while running their businesses; others want a flexible schedule to help raise kids and keep the home going.
Many digital entrepreneurs share an overarching goal: career control and fulfillment. They also have unique challenges in common that other business owners might not face — from online security to search engine optimization (SEO) to mental health concerns like burnout.
5 business goals for digital entrepreneurs
If you’re a digital entrepreneur trying to decide which business goals to set, focus on these five areas that pose unique challenges for you:
- Secure your online presence.
- Develop your SEO strategy.
- Declutter your tools.
- Address and mitigate burnout.
- Grow your team.
By setting goals that address these obstacles, you’ll take a huge step toward turning them into opportunities for meaningful growth.
1. Secure your online presence
When your entire business is online, you can’t risk a digital threat. A seemingly innocuous phishing email or low-level DDoS attack could wipe out your system or result in stolen personal information — yours or that of your customers. Depending on how large the issue was, the attack could keep your business from running for an extended period of time. If the revenue from your business is your only income, this can be detrimental for your life as a whole.
That’s why this is an important goal to focus on in 2022, starting with yourself as the business owner.
When Aura surveyed 2,000 Americans, they discovered that most people know about the dangers online — but not how to protect themselves. Aura shared these 45 fraud prevention tips you can use to protect yourself, first and foremost. These tips range from storing sensitive information properly to clipping or shredding old credit cards.
The next step is to build healthy habits around your business's data security. For example, set goals to:
- Set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for all the services you use, keeping your business protected from unauthorized logins.
- Set up quarterly audits of your systems to make sure you’re following cybersecurity best practices as our digital landscape changes and becomes more dangerous.
As a digital entrepreneur, the security measures you need to take will depend upon the type of business you run and products and services you use. Figure out what it is you need and then make a plan to implement the necessary action(s).
Remember: when it comes to digital threats, it is better to prevent an attack than to try and recover from one. Use this all-important business goal for digital entrepreneurs to keep your company safe and secure now — before anything happens.
2. Develop your SEO strategy
Search engine optimization is the process of making your brand more visible in search engines, from Bing to Google. A well-optimized website, where good SEO is implemented, can drive leads and traffic to your website long after you’ve done the work to optimize it. However, SEO is not a single, linear or one-dimensional process.
There are three SEO strategies to focus on when optimizing your site:
- Technical/back-end: Including page speed, mobile optimization and metadata.
- Content: Including keyword use, headers and content creation.
- Off-site: Including links that point back to your website and business listings websites.
The best way to set a strong SEO foundation is to work with someone who understands how to do proper SEO. When done right, it can be invaluable to your brand. When done wrong, it can hurt your site more than help it.
Your first objective is to find someone who can do an SEO audit for your current website. When you know what’s working, what needs to be changed, and how you can improve, you can then set goals to implement those updates and find the right person for the job.
Related: How to perform an annual SEO audit
3. Declutter your tools
When the COVID-19 pandemic drove many companies to remote work, the average number of tools used increased dramatically.
According to Statista, in 2017, the average company used 16 SaaS applications, but in 2020, this number shot up to 80 and then climbed to 110 in 2021.
As a digital entrepreneur, you aren’t immune from the “app hoarding” mentality. While these tools can be helpful, as your business grows, you might be tempted to add more tools and software solutions to improve your productivity — yet this clutter can actually hinder your productivity.
Set a goal to evaluate your existing tools to determine which ones you actually need. A few questions to ask include:
- Have I used this tool in the past year? The past quarter?
- Do I have duplicate tools that offer the same service?
- Can I replace multiple individual apps with a single software service? Would I want to?
These questions will help you analyze the products that actually add value to your business versus the ones that create digital clutter. When you know what’s helping, your next goal is to get rid of the ones that aren’t.
Use this process to audit your tools annually, if not quarterly, to get rid of the services and products you no longer need.
4. Address and mitigate burnout
Starting your own business is exciting, empowering — and exhausting. Not to mention, COVID has affected mental health for nearly anyone, including entrepreneurs who are stressed about money and being forced to spend more time alone.
While stress and burnout are common among digital entrepreneurs, you don’t have to let these things take over. In fact, there are many ways you can mitigate them. Protect your mental health by setting goals around these key strategies:
- Set clear work hours. For example, always clock out by 6pm. Limit your work time during the weekends as well and don’t answer an email or take a call during off hours unless absolutely necessary.
- Take your lunch break. Use this time to reset by having a call with a friend, taking a walk, or simply breathing and getting away from your computer.
- Create a vacation policy. It’s easy to work all year round when you don’t have set vacation days. Create a vacation policy for yourself and put vacations on the calendar in January so you actually take them.
- Pick up hobbies that make you happy. Time away from work doing things you love personally can give you a much-needed mental health boost.
As an entrepreneur, you are the only person who can make sure you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Preventing burnout is as important for you as it is for your company — mental health affects every area of your business, so don’t let this one slide. Even setting a goal around one of these strategies can have an impact.
5. Grow your team
As your digital venture continues to expand, there might come a time when you need to grow your team. You don’t need a packed office full of employees, but you may want to take on a partner, assistant or contractors so you can focus on what you do best.
This is a key step in growing your business; however, Jeff Hunter, founder of VA Staffer, explains that entrepreneurs struggle to build out a team because of their fear of losing control. If this sounds familiar, how do you let go of that control? Hunter suggests:
“The trick to beat the fear of losing control is understanding that you need to focus on the most valuable use of your time. The only way to achieve that is to have a reliable, consistent and intelligent person or team of people to take over the activities that are not the best use of your time.”
When looking at team growth, you might want to set a few goals, the first being to simply to determine where you could use help. In marketing? In sales? In website management? Next, a goal might be to take the time to find people who can do that work for you, whether it’s a full-time employee, virtual assistant or contractor.
If you want to build a successful business, you have to be willing to build the right team along the way. Set goals so you begin that process this year, even if you only hire one person to start.
Best practices for setting strong yet attainable goals
Saying you want to achieve something will only take you so far. Taking steps to turn those ideas into a reality is another — that’s why you need to set business goals with intention and clarity. As a digital entrepreneur, use these strategies to set clear and actionable business goals that you can attain.
Give your goals a timeline
Set a clear date for when you’ll complete your goal. For example, if you want to implement a new security system, your goal might be: “Implement a new security system by the end of Q2.” This gives you something clear to work toward and helps you prioritize your time accordingly.
Create bite-sized goals
Don’t just set one big goal — that can be overwhelming and keep you from getting started. Instead, break your goals down into bite-sized goals that prompt you to take action. For example, if you want to implement a new security system by the end of Q2, a few smaller goals that will help you get there include:
- Schedule a security audit.
- Research security software.
- Create a security budget.
It can be hard to hold yourself accountable when you have a dozen other things on your to-do list each day. Find an accountability partner or group to keep you moving forward with your goals this year. This might be a good friend, a co-worker, or even a mastermind group. Tell that person, or group of people, what your goals are and when you plan to achieve them so they can hold you accountable to getting it done.
Be intentional with your goals
If you don’t really care about achieving something, you won’t make time for it. Don’t set goals just to set them. Have a clear intention and “why” for each one. In the security system example, your “why” might be to not only keep your company safe, but to keep your customers’ data secure. With this in mind, you have greater motivation to make it happen.
Thrive with clear business goals for digital entrepreneurs
To grow your business, you need to set goals. But what goals should you set? Where should you place your focus? As a digital entrepreneur, there are a few unique areas for you to consider — including online security, mental health, SEO, team growth and your digital workspace. Use these five ideas to set goals that will help you grow your business into the thriving and sustainable company that you dreamed it could be.