Setting digital goals for small business owners and entrepreneurs

When I relocated back to Sydney from abroad, it was the realisation of a career and life goal. Launching a series of Markets for Microsoft Advertising across Asia, culminating in the Australian and New Zealand launches, was some of the most rewarding work of my career. Professionally I was at a high point, in my personal life I had achieved a few key goals including jumping on the Sydney property ladder, but mentally I was exhausted and my health and well-being had fallen off track. I was semi-regular at the gym, consistently carrying injuries, and life on the road for work was a convenient excuse for poor eating.

My intentions weren't bad, I possessed some knowledge, a desire to improve, but it became clear that I was less than deliberate in my tactics and my activity didn't equate to a strategy or plan.

Still with me? For many small business owners and entrepreneurs, launching and operating their core business/activity is a major milestone; sales strategy, operational efficiency and marketing are functions that are in motion simply due to the reality of being open for business. Like my fitness goals, the intention for these functions is good (or at least not ‘bad’), some have knowledge and/or learn by need, performing as needed or when the ‘to do' list is cleared. This is when digital and social activity can seem daunting and chore like, rather than deliberate and integrated to the strategy of the business.

When I re-set my fitness plan, my goal is to lose weight, I should really say my goals are playing in a basketball league again, completing a ‘tough mudder’ and learning to dive and paddle board. All of these activities are enabled by a healthier weight. The first step I took was to allocate time, (when and how long I would train, and incorporate rest/downtime to reflect). I knew that 20-year-old me wasn't here anymore either, which meant I couldn't start with four to five high intensity seasons per week my initial focus was on fixing my baseline, (back and knee pain free, or pain minimised), to enable the most realistic plan that I could stick to, and finally figuring out what support I would need (through trainers and physio), and what I could accomplish on my own.

When it comes to your starting or reset point for digital/social; start with your vision, or for the less corporate speak desired outcomes. One of my clients (also one of my trainers – yes there is a theme here) is a community health and fitness clinic. Rebound Health in Brookvale has the vision to "coach our Northern Beaches Community to better health by creating a safe and proactive environment, and by implementing an integrated approach to supporting sustainable lifestyle change and goal achievement.”, these are aspirations that resonate for the owner; Andrew, and his team. Much like how my ‘basketball/tough muddier’ lifestyle aspirations are enabled by my weight loss goal, Rebound’s ‘community health’ goals are enabled by increasing both ‘volume of’ and ‘positive engagement with’ their customer base. Clarity of goals, and the strategies required to enable them, is the first step in your journey.

  • What is the desired outcome for your business or venture? (State your vision, beyond turning a profit, why do you exist?) Me – a healthier, more active lifestyle doing tough activities that I challenge me. Rebound Health – coaching their local community to a healthier lifestyle.

  • What are the enablement motions/strategies required to achieve this purpose? Me – reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, Rebound Health– increasing their member base and engagement with their community

When you can answer these questions above, you can begin to assess and create your strategy and remove any blockers. In my journey, improved diet coupled with volume and intensity of exercise are my core strategies, but I couldn’t fully commit to these areas without removing/working on my blockers, (my bad back and knees are mostly pain free on both these fronts thanks to Andrew and team).

For Andrew at Rebound Health, the first step was understanding the resources (time, budgets, and skill sets) available to the business. Like many small businesses, Rebound’s team are functional experts in their given field, they must however compete on the same playing field as large companies with dedicated business management functions (fitness centre chains for example). For these business owners digital and social channels require the ability to self-manage, coupled with cost effective support systems, that keep their message fresh to prospective new clients and the existing customer base they are looking to drive increased engagement and activity with. Migrating their (visually impressive but relatively static) website and social management to a centralised (push) content management platform is the key blocker they had to remove to enable their future strategies.

  • What is holding you back in your business or endeavour? List your key blockers to digital and social and why?

Next week: Chapter 3 - Deliberate digital for SMBs: create habits

Previous week: Chapter 1 – Information Overload - navigating the digital landscape

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