What Happened When I Realized My Business Goals Weren't Big Enough

When I first went into business for myself, I didn’t actually know if my “idea” was legit. I didn’t want to be involved with the day-to-day workings of marketing like blogging, social media management, etc.—I simply wanted to be a high-level partner with companies, directing them on strategy and helping them achieve their business goals through custom marketing plans.

My husband, ever the “one who keeps me grounded” asked me point blank: “Babe, who is going to pay that much if you aren’t doing all the digital marketing stuff for them?”

It was a fair question; it was a question I couldn’t answer.

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So away I went to prove that I didn’t need to start my own digital marketing agency to be successful. It took a lot of networking, a lot of sales calls, and a lot of energy, but I landed my first client AND started seeing results.

BAM! Concept proven. Now I just needed more clients like this first one and my business would be an actual business, not just a side gig.

So I dug into Facebook communities for female entrepreneurs and started seeing this type of message CONSTANTLY: “I’m making $20K a month, and you can too!”

This seems to be the pitch most coaches are making to small business owners online. Whether you’re seeing it in Facebook groups or in articles, it’s a rough message to ingest.

If it’s that easy, why am I not doing it too?

Am I not working hard enough?

What’s wrong with me that I’m not this successful too?

If you’ve ever seen these posts and had some of these thoughts, you’re not alone. As my first year of business ownership came to a close, I kept seeing more and more of these thinly veiled sales posts shouting to the rooftops about how someone grew their brand by huge margins in 365 days.

That’s when I realized that my business goals simply weren’t big enough.

My business goals….

The goals I set for my business were pretty ambitious—or so I thought. I wanted to make roughly $180,000 a year before taxes, which would be a big leap from what I was making at any previous marketing position I held. It would take a lot of hard work to get there, I knew, but that’s a number that would leave my family living pretty comfortably, give the hubby and I enough to really start saving, and I’d even have some left over to go shopping or get my nails done now and again.

And now that I run my own business instead of working for someone else, I get to make these goals for myself now…. right?!

What it took me a year in business to realize, is that my “business goals” were much more than a number, much more than a revenue milestone—my goals for my business were also about what I wanted for myself.

The passive income trap

So I started following others online who appeared to be successful like I wanted to be. I even paid for a course or two! I love to learn, so if I could afford it, spending time and money on learning more about how to be a successful business owner seemed like a good investment. I took a lot away from those courses, but the biggest thing I learned is that I didn’t want to package and sell my expertise online.

My decision not to sell courses was more about really taking ownership over my clients’ success by showing up for them every day. It was about creating something custom, not giving them a roadmap and wishing them good luck on the journey. It was about maintaining the connection I had with clients and not giving up the integrity of my brand to reach another income level.

I had a coach tell me very plainly once: “There’s only so much of you to go around. You’ll limit your potential for growth because working one-on-one with clients isn’t scalable.”

And in that moment I realized that I’m completely OK with this.

In truth, the whole “passive income” thing is a trap. Anyone who thinks they can set up a course or funnel and then sit back and watch while the money comes in needs to return their “EASY” button to Staples.

Any and every business requires constant vigilance and effort. From marketing to new audiences to developing the perfect service—a business owner’s work is never done.

I’m sure I could grow my personal brand by building and marketing courses, but I love to work with entrepreneurs, and I just don’t want to take away my favorite parts of what I do to make more money.

Discovering the way I want to work

It only took one year of owning my business to realize that—according to a lot of people out there bragging about their fabulous success—my goals just weren’t big enough. Would I love to make $20,000 a month? Sure! But only if it’s in integrity with how I want to show up in my business every day.

So when I started setting goals for the growth of my business this year, I also needed to set goals for how I wanted to feel about the work that I do. By no stretch of the imagination am I running a nonprofit, but I’m OK not making oodles of money so I can be proud of the work I do and then way I show up for my clients. Living in Bali and making a ton of money won’t give me the same satisfaction.

So what happened when I realized my business goals weren’t big enough? I learned that I’m not unsuccessful if I’m not making a certain amount of money—I just define success differently than most. I prioritize my integrity, my happiness, and doing the work I love over the number in my bank account…. And I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way.