🔮 Why setting goals is good for business

Why setting goals is good for business

We’re barely one month into 2023 and, like many people, I’ve already fallen short of my new year’s resolution to do a daily workout this year. 

But here’s the good news: I’ve come close to hitting that goal, and despite my occasional missteps, I’m already feeling stronger and fitter than I did during the dark days of December. And perhaps most importantly, I know exactly what it will take to get from where I am to where I want to go. 

If you’ve seen this dynamic play out with your own new year’s resolutions, then you’ll understand the importance of setting annual and quarterly goals for your business. 

Sure, you won’t know everything you want to know to set precise revenue or audience targets – goal-setting is an exercise in educated guessing, after all. And yes, you might end up falling short.

But from a business standpoint, setting goals and measuring your progress toward them is half the battle. As the cheesy school poster told us all those years ago: “Aim for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll end up among the stars.”

So how can you set effective goals for your business?

One lesson that’s stuck with me is the importance of distinguishing between output goals and input goals. 

  • Output goals are the things you hope to accomplish – for example, earning $100,000 in annual revenue or reaching 10,000 newsletter readers. 
  • Input goals are the things you actually do to reach those output goals – for example, completing a membership campaign every month or sharing your newsletter with five local thought leaders every week. 

Output goals tend to be more motivating because they deal with the successes you want to achieve. But input goals are essential for accountability because you have full control over whether or not they happen. (In other words, either you complete the membership campaign or not, regardless of the results.)

For more advice on setting business goals, LION members can take this self-guided course on organizational goal setting, taught by LION coach and news business consultant Lizzy Hazeltine. 

We’ll also share more goal-setting tips and resources in this newsletter throughout the month, starting next week with lessons learned from our members. 

– Ben DeJarnette, newsletter writer, and the LION team

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11 opportunities for independent publishers

1. Bring your small business tax questions to this “ask me anything” webinar with a licensed tax professional. (TODAY)

2. Get support as a BIPOC news leader by applying for one of these upcoming programs:

  • The Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange is a community-grounded accelerator program supporting BIPOC media and news entrepreneurs through training, one-on-one coaching, and grantmaking. (Deadline: TODAY)

3. Deepen your political coverage. The Advancing Democracy Fellowship (formerly the Democracy SOS Fellowship) is a nine-month, virtual fellowship for newsrooms that are ready to evolve their political and elections coverage. (Deadline: February 14)

4. Earn funding to launch a nonprofit newsroom. The American Journalism Project’s Local News Incubator will offer four founders 18 months of support and $400,000 in seed funding. (Deadline: February 15) 

5. Nominate your early-stage media business for an innovation prize. The Next Challenge for Media & Journalism is a national startup competition seeking groundbreaking for-profit and nonprofit startups that will reinvent media in the coming decade. (Deadline: February 17)

6. Pitch a session for the INN Days 2023 conference in Washington, D.C. in early summer. (Deadline: February 24)

7. Apply for an investigative journalism grant. The Data-Driven Reporting Project gives financial awards to organizations and freelancers working on document-focused, investigative stories — especially those serving local and underrepresented communities. (Applications open: March 1; Deadline: March 13)

8. Strengthen your editing chops. Apply for ProPublica’s yearlong Investigative Editor Training Program. (Deadline: March 13)

9. Build trust with your audience by explaining your editorial decision-making within your editorial products.  

10. Earn more reader revenue by borrowing these proven campaign strategies from other independent publishers.  

11. Save the dates for these upcoming journalism conferences and events in 2023. 

What we’re reading

Funding priorities. How Knight Foundation plans to contribute to local news sustainability in 2023. (News @ Knight)

Questions and answers. How artificial intelligence could change how search engines work – and reduce the traffic publishers get from them. (Nieman Lab)

Founder files. What Gawker can teach us about the past, present and future of independent media. (The New York Times)

Book smarts. How building an email list can help independent journalists land a book deal. (Simon Owens’s Media Newsletter)

Looking up. How a one-newspaper town in California became a competitive local news ecosystem. (Los Angeles Times)

LIONs in the news

“The path out of this crisis starts with telling a new story—one that begins with catastrophic decline, but heralds the emergence of an unprecedented opportunity.”

That hopeful prediction for the future of local news and civic information is just one gem from The Roadmap for Local News, a new report that features insights and anecdotes from several LION members. 

The full report is worth a read – or you can catch up on the highlights and reactions in this summary from Nieman Lab.

How journalists in Hawaii are covering (and coping with) the Maui wildfires – Poynter
‘We’re going to be here for the long haul, so we have a huge task in front of us.’ Journalists in Hawaii spoke with Poynter about covering the Maui wildfires.
How journalists in Hawaii are covering (and coping with) the Maui wildfires – Poynter
‘We’re going to be here for the long haul, so we have a huge task in front of us.’ Journalists in Hawaii spoke with Poynter about covering the Maui wildfires.

In other LION member news…

  • Bucket List Community Cafe has received a $5,000 grant from Colorado Media Project to provide scholarships to BIPOC interns. 
  • Open Vallejo broke another investigative story this week about wrongdoing by the local police department, including the destruction of documents related to police shootings. 

How to reach us

When you reply to this email, we all receive it and you’ll hear back from one of us. You can also email us directly at [email protected].

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