OKRs for Solopreneurs and Freelancers

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Do you ever feel that your solopreneur journey is a bit like a rudderless ship, being battered around in different directions? This is where OKRs, short for Objectives and Key Results, come into play.

Originally developed by Intel and popularized by Google, OKRs were designed to align teams with a common purpose. However, their adaptability makes them a valuable tool for individuals seeking clarity and vision in their professional journeys.

What Are OKRs?

OKRs are a simple yet powerful goal-setting framework that consists of two main components: Objectives and Key Results. Objectives are ambitious, qualitative descriptions of what you want to achieve, while Key Results are specific, quantifiable milestones that measure your progress towards those objectives. This framework was initially used by large corporations, but its simplicity has led many innovative solopreneurs and freelancers to jump on board.

Benefits of OKRs for Solopreneurs and Freelancers

If you’re a solo business owner, here are some the reasons why you should consider using OKRs:

1. Improved Clarity and Focus

Setting clear objectives allows you to define your destination and create a sense of direction for your work. It’s like starting a journey with a map and a clear destination in mind.

As Tony Robbins said “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible”. Once you have clear objections, you can set the direction your business is headed.

2. Enhanced Motivation and Engagement

OKRs enable you to establish meaningful and inspiring objectives that keep you motivated throughout your business adventure. Tracking measurable key results provides a sense of accomplishment as you make progress. It’s like unlocking achievements in a video game – the more you achieve, the more motivated you become to keep going.

3. Efficient Time and Resource Management

Prioritization is a game-changer for solo business owners juggling multiple projects. OKRs help you prioritize tasks and projects that align with your objectives, ensuring you allocate your time and resources wisely based on key results. This leads to increased efficiency and productivity.

Examples of OKRs for Solopreneurs

Here are some examples of OKR’s, so you can get a feel for the type of OKRs you can implement.

Objective: Expand Client Base

KR 1: Acquire 5 new clients within the next quarter.
KR 2: Increase the number of repeat clients by 20%.
KR 3: Receive positive referrals from at least 2 existing clients.

Objective: Enhance Personal Brand

KR 1: Increase LinkedIn connections by 30%.
KR 2: Publish 12 blog posts or articles showcasing expertise.
KR 3: Speak at a minimum of 2 industry-related webinars or events.

Objective: Improve Work-Life Balance

KR 1: Have at least one ‘family day’ per week, with no work.
KR 2: Take a minimum of 2 weeks of vacation time during the year.
KR 3: Reduce average weekly working hours by 10%.

Objective: Improve Financial Stability

KR 1: Create and maintain a 6-month financial reserve.
KR 2: Reduce outstanding invoices by 20%.
KR 3: Increase profitability by 15% through expense management and improved pricing.

Implementing OKRs: Step-by-Step Guide

Getting started with OKRs is surprisingly easy. Here are some quick steps to get you going.

Step 1: Define Your Objectives

Start by identifying your long-term vision and mission. Then start to identify objectives that will move you in the right directions. There are no right or wrong objectives to choose, it is down to you and the direction you want to take. They could revolve around any the following areas:

  • Growing overall revenue.
  • Reducing work hours, while maintaining revenue.
  • Reducing ‘feast or famine’ (creating predictable income).
  • Improving personal and professional skills.
  • Creating internal systems to improve productivity.

Setting 3-5 objectives is a number for most businesses. This is enough to make a meaningful difference to your business, but not too many that you get overwhelmed.

Step 2: Crafting Key Results

Make your key results measurable and quantifiable. If one of your objectives is to increase your client base, a key result could be “Acquire 3 new clients within three months.” Ensure that your key results are challenging yet achievable, pushing you to strive for excellence.

Step 3: Aligning with Your Freelance Work

Map your objectives to your client projects or personal goals. Ensure that your OKRs contribute to your professional growth and align with your overall vision. This alignment will keep you focused and on track.

Step 4: Setting a Time Frame

Establish a realistic timeline for achieving your key results. Many businesses set their OKR’s for 90 days, however this is not set in stone. It may suit you to have a 1-month, 6-month or 12-month timeframe.

You could also split your time frames. For instance, you could have one overall 12-month objective that acts as your North Star, for where you are heading. Then you could have several 3-month objectives according to the needs of your business.

Step 5: Regular Review and Adjustments

Periodically monitor your progress towards your key results and objectives. Be flexible and willing to adapt your OKRs based on changing circumstances. This ensures that your goals remain relevant and attainable.

If you work alone, you can simply set a reminder to check your OKR’s each week or monthly. However it can be even more powerful to involve somebody else. This could be partner or friend. You could even set yourself up with an ‘accountability partner’ if you’ve met somebody suitable in a Facebook Group or at a business networking meeting.

Detailed Examples of Small Business OKRs

Example 1: A Freelance Writer’s Journey

Meet Jane, a freelance copywriter who started her business three months ago. She has been taking on projects from platforms like UpWork and Fiverr but aspires to increase her income and work with more clients on a retainer basis.

Here are some OKRs that she could use:

Objective: Boost Direct Marketing for New Retainer Clients

KR 1: Create a cold email campaign by sending 75 emails to targeted SaaS companies.
KR 2: Reach out to all previous customers with details of my current service offerings.
KR 3: Attend 3 local networking events.

Objective: Expand Online Presence and Portfolio

KR 1: Publish 2 case studies or success stories on my website, showcasing the results achieved for clients.
KR 2: Increase LinkedIn connections by 20% and actively engage in relevant industry groups.
KR 3: Publish 1 guest post or article on a reputable industry blog or platform.

Objective: Enhance Skills and Offerings

KR 1: Complete an advanced copywriting certification through AWAI.
KR 2: Offer email copywriting as a new service, to existing or new clients.
KR 3: Offer a free ‘Website Copy Audit’ to existing customers.

Example 2: Growing an E-commerce Venture

Enter John, an e-commerce entrepreneur who sells handcrafted leather bags on his Shopify store and Etsy. Currently, it’s just a side hustle, but he dreams of increasing sales to the point where he can quit his day job and go full-time.

Here are his OKRs:

Objective: Prepare for Full-Time Entrepreneurship

KR 1: Save an amount equivalent to 6 months of living expenses as a financial safety net.
KR 2: Diversify income by selling through 3 local retail outlets.
KR 3: Launch a presence on an additional online marketplace platform (e.g., Amazon Handmade) to reach a broader audience.

Objective: Increase Sales on Shopify Website by 20%

KR 1: Increase organic web traffic, by publishing 2 blog posts per week.
KR 2: Improve conversion rate by improving featured images for all products.
KR 3: Implement and optimize a Google Ads campaign to drive targeted traffic and conversions.

Objective: Improve Customer Engagement and Loyalty

KR 1: Implement a customer loyalty program that encourages repeat purchases and referrals, leading to a 20% increase in repeat customers.
KR 2: Create and distribute a monthly email newsletter with product updates, exclusive offers, and engaging content to maintain customer engagement.
KR 3: Create a section on the website which outlines the hand crafted process behind our bags

Overcoming Challenges in OKR Implementation

Implementing OKRs as a solopreneur or freelancer isn’t without its challenges. Here are some common hurdles you might face:

Failing to Hit Goals: It’s important to strike a balance between ambitious and realistic OKRs. Setting goals that are too challenging can lead to burnout. It can also be demotivating. However stretch goals can also be an exciting challenge. Companies like Google consider that getting to 70% of an OKR is still a great result and is a valuable learning experience.

Too Many Objectives: Avoid spreading yourself too thin. Focus on 3-5 high-impact objectives rather than trying to pursue numerous goals simultaneously.

Key Results Are Not Measurable: Ensure your key results are quantifiable and can be tracked. Vague or subjective measures can make it difficult to gauge progress.

Set It and Forget It: OKRs require regular review and adjustment. Don’t create them and only revisit them at the end of the quarter. Stay engaged and make necessary changes as your journey unfolds.

Tools and Resources for OKR Management

To simplify OKR management, consider using the following software tools. Each of these tools has a free option, so you can try them out, even if you’re on a tight budget.:

Profit.co: A comprehensive OKR software that offers goal tracking, progress monitoring, and collaboration features. It’s suitable for solopreneurs looking to manage their OKRs efficiently.

Perdoo.com: Perdoo is a user-friendly OKR platform that helps individuals set, track, and achieve their objectives and key results. It offers templates and analytics to make the process smoother.

Notion: This is one of my personal favourites. While Notion is a versatile productivity tool, it can also be used to set and manage your OKRs. Its flexibility allows you to tailor your OKR tracking to your specific needs.

Conclusion

In the world of solopreneurs and freelancers, clarity and direction are invaluable assets. OKRs, originally designed for teams, can be your secret weapon for achieving your personal and professional aspirations.

By defining clear objectives, tracking measurable key results, and adapting your goals as needed, you can supercharge your journey towards success. Embrace OKRs as a means to drive your growth, stay motivated, and turn your dreams into reality. Your path to success just got a whole lot clearer!

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