This entry is part 18 of 24 in the series Business Planning

People often struggle in both life and business with the process of goal-setting—more than likely, you’ve read a lot about creating SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Being realistic is one of the criteria for setting business goals that will serve you, but the truth is, the rest of the acronym helps ensure that your goals are realistic.

It’s fun to fantasize about starting a business, and it’s not uncommon to imagine becoming a millionaire or making a high six-figure salary while sitting on the beach. The problem with this is that it’s just not that realistic. It’s not to say that no one has ever done it, but more than likely, they already had tons of resources like money and contacts that allowed them to simply delegate while they’re lying on the beach.

This is not an uncommon happening. Even the neighborhood dog walker probably had high hopes for how much money they can earn. When you come up with a figure or a measure for your goal to track, you want the number to be realistic and not just pulled out of thin air.

For example, let’s say that you are a virtual assistant. You plan to work as a VA full time. At first glance, you may think that means you can bill at least 40 hours a week. We often choose 40 hours because that’s what we’re used to in terms of work. However, it’s not really that realistic. There are other things you need to do for your business aside from the direct and billable work you’re going to do for them.

To be super accurate and realistic about how much you can earn, you need to figure out the order of operations at your VA business. What will you do all day? More than likely, once you figure out, you’ll realize you can work four or five hours a day that is billable, and the rest of the time, you’ll need to work on marketing and other aspects of your business.

After you’ve organized your day, you accept that you have five hours a day, Monday – Friday, that can be considered billable hours. That means you have that much time to work directly for a client that you can bill them for the time. How much money will you earn with that criteria at the rate you planned to charge? If you only charge $20 per hour, you’ll only make $500 a week before taxes or expenses. Is that enough?

You can raise your rates, or you can find other ways to earn more money, such as by going to a flat fee per service and finding people to outsource to or by hiring a full-time employee to help. Perhaps you can automate a lot more than you have so far to free up more billable hours. Maybe you develop an app that does what you would do automatically that you sell to your audience or that you use to serve your audience.

The main thing is that you should not leave these numbers to chance. Design your entire day and figure out what is realistic for your goals in each case. Don’t just pull a number out of the air. Think about the number and how it can happen or not happen before you put it in writing.

Download this free goal planner to help you stay on track:

All the best,

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