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I was coaching a small business owner the other day in the area of online marketing. We were talking about creating systems for being efficient at all the stages of marketing her business online, including creating strong offers, building her email database, writing articles, blogging, and effective content syndication.

As we continued to discuss all the elements she would need to put in place, she got somewhat overwhelmed. She asked me, “Rachna- how can I possibly do all these things when I’m already so busy?”

And I laughed, but then asked, “But are you busy accomplishing the most important things?”

And there was silence.

It is good practice to periodically assess where, as a business owner, you are spending your time, and to ascertain if you are accomplishing the most important things each day to reach your business goals.

The first step, of course, is to define your business goals. And the more numerical the better- because in simple mathematics, numbers don’t lie.

If you have a goal to make $X in the month, or to gain Y readers to your blog, or to increase your search engine ranking by two pages- all of these are measureable. But not all of them are equally important at the same time.

All business owners need to focus, first, on ways to build cash flow. This means that products and service offerings need to be the first focus. How can you continually assist and serve more and more of your clients? How can you do this without working harder than you already are?

Once you have a stable source of monthly revenue, then you may have some leeway to focus on goals related to building your platform or increasing your influence. But these should only happen after your basic financial needs are addressed.

Most people get this backwards- they worry about being known before they focus on being profitable.

But to build a strong business, you need to focus on profitability, first, and what it takes to stay and remain so. That’s the first most important thing.

All the rest can come later.

So, as we head into the beginning of another new year, take a few minutes and ascertain, what are your most important business goals right now? And then examine if your actions are supporting them.

A Note from Rachna:

One of my business goals for 2010 is to work more directly with small business owners and solo-pros who want to get more clients from the internet. I’ll teach you how to craft the right marketing message, find your blogging “voice”, and use all the tools and technology to build your presence and your reach on the internet. You’ll learn how to create content that gets attention, build your email list, and build your status as an expert. I’m still defining the whats, and hows, but if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can get a bit more information by joining the email list using the form below. Please remember to confirm your subscription so I have permission to email you back with the preliminary details: