The 3 goals your impact business needs to succeed

The 3 goals your impact business needs to succeed

Goals are one of the key ingredients your impact business needs to succeed. But the whole process of goal setting can feel overwhelming.

It often leads us down the difficult path of comparison and imposter syndrome, and if we get too attached to the outcomes of our goals we risk feeling like a failure if we don’t achieve them.

That’s why you need a solid strategy that keeps you focused and defines what success means for you. You wouldn’t set out on a roadtrip without an idea of where you’re going and how to get there – and it’s the same with your business.

There’s 3 types of goals that impact businesses need to set to keep you focused and on track:

Goal #1: Impact

This is probably already front and centre in your mind as a values driven business.

You’re driven by the causes you care about and the desire to make a meaningful impact – but have you defined exactly what that means?

Start with the ‘Big Why’ – the problem you want to solve. That’s where your passion lies and that’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. But you need to break it down.

If we focus on making a big impact, sometimes we freeze. We worry that we’re not doing enough – or we hold off making any impact at all until we can do it in a ‘meaningful’ way.

But impact is a journey. We can make meaningful moves towards our overall mission with consistent, small steps.

Try to break down your impact into those smaller steps and use that to set your targets for the year ahead.

For example, at Ethical Hour I re-invest a percentage of my sales revenue into microfinance loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries.

The first year I did this (2017) I made 2 loans.

The second year (2018) I made 25.

Altogether that means we’ve made 27 loans to date, which has supported 137 entrepreneurs, 520 family members and created 52 jobs in countries around the world!

Seeing this increase is a positive boost and something to celebrate, and it shows that our impact is growing. It also sets a benchmark for how many loans I might be able to make next year.

Every month when I receive loan repayments, they are now enough to make another loan, so I know it should be easy for us to do an extra 12 next year.

So even if my target was to match this year at 25, we’d be able to do 37 in total with the automatic loans we’ll make using the repayments.

I like to set stretch targets, so I’m going to aim to make 50 more loans in 2019.


Goal #2: Income

In the impact sector we sometimes shy away from the financial side of things – but having a clear income goal is the only way to achieve your impact as a for-profit, for-purpose business.

If you invest a percentage of your sales revenue or profit into your impact, and you know what impact you want to make because you’ve defined your impact goals, you should be able to work out how much money you need to make that happen.

Taking into account your business overheads, additional costs you might need to cover for the year ahead, how much you want to reinvest in growing the business and how much you need to make your impact happen, that should give you a clear figure for your income goal.

Bear in mind that you’re likely to reach your desired impact even quicker if you invest in growing your business. If you want to work with experts to make that happen, you need to factor that investment into your figures too.

Getting clear on what money we want to make is the first step to identifying how we’re going to make it happen.

There’s nothing wrong with having a clearly defined income goal, or with making money, especially if you’re using it to make the world a better place!


Goal #3: Audience

Once you know how much income you need to make, you need a plan for how you’re going to do it! That’s where your audience comes in.

Your audience is essentially your pool of potential customers. People will only buy from you if you can clearly demonstrate how you solve their problems, and if they know, like and trust you enough to invest in you.

Building an audience – both online and in person – is the most effective way of establishing and nurturing that relationship.

Remember, only a small percentage of your audience will convert to paying customers at any one time. You don’t necessarily need a massive audience to make an income – you just need the right people to be highly engaged.

Back in Summer 2018 one of the members of my Instagram Academy made her first sales to strangers with less than 500 people in her audience!

When you’re setting your audience target you need to consider size, engagement and growth rate.

Don’t focus purely on the numbers, instead consider how you can find people who are going to be highly engaged potential customers.

Go in with a community building mindset!

When I first started #EthicalHour in 2016, I set an ambitious target of uniting 20,000 changemakers online by 2020. We actually hit that target by the end of 2017, with an audience size of 25,000.

In 2018, that doubled and we are now connected to over 50,000 changemakers worldwide.

At the start of 2019, I set an ambitious target of doubling our audience again – with the aim of uniting 100,000 changemakers by 2020.

But in May 2019, I realised this goal was out of alignment. I’d got too swept up in the numbers and lost my focus on the quality and impact of those connections, so I pivoted my plan and made some changes to our Facebook Group in line with my new audience goal – to create the most impactful community of changemakers on the internet, not just the largest.


As you build your business, take time to reflect and refocus on your goals, and don’t be afraid to pivot if they’re not right for you anymore.

Goals aren’t a stick to beat yourself with, they’re a tool to keep you focused on the right things.

If your marketing, business or impact begins to feel overwhelming, come back to your goals, ask if they’re still right for you, and if they are, list the 3 things you can focus on to make them happen.

Too often we get busy working in our business, we forget the big picture. That’s what goals are for.

What goals have you set for your impact business?

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