An eCommerce owner's guide to planning the new year


I want you to take a month off next year.

Think you can do it?

I know you can. All it takes is a little planning and blocking off the time ahead of time. And that’s what this article is all about.

I’m going to walk you step-by-step through planning 2019 for your eCommerce store. Everything from hiring to product launches to taking vacations to hike volcanoes. (Or to spend more time on your butt in front of the TV if you’re not that adventurous.)

Let’s dive in!

2019 eCommerce Planning: Begin with the end in mind

Before you do anything, ask yourself:

Where do I want to be at the end of the year?

Don’t just think in terms of revenue or traffic. Think about your personal goals as well. In fact, I’d start with what you want to have, to do, and to be. (Credit goes to Tim Ferris for this one.)

For example, by mid-2019, I want to have a new RV to travel around the US with my girlfriend (for our own month-long vacation). I also want to pay off all my college debt and start practicing archery. And that trip to the volcano doesn’t sound half bad either.

Don’t forget your business goals, too — maybe you want to hire a new employee to make your life easier, buy a ping pong table to put in the office to improve employee morale, or be able to take a business retreat with your team to bond and improve together.

None of these goals have to do with money. They cost money, but their real purpose is to fuel your “why.”

As an added benefit, once you know what you want to have, to do, and to be, you can do the math to figure out how much that costs and use that as your income goal.

In fact, let’s do that now...

Using your personal and business goals to set your financial goals

Ask yourself a simple question…

How much money do I need to accomplish my goals?

Going back to my example - my college debt is $65,000 and a decent RV is around $30,000. So I need $100,000 just for this goal alone (I like to round up to have a cushion for unexpected expenses).

Go through and figure out how much you need to complete your have, do, and be goals. Put those numbers down in a spreadsheet. Do it now, I’ll wait...

Done? Good! Time for more math.

Next up, we need to calculate our known expenses. This includes things like…

  • Marketing expenses
  • Business upkeep (website hosting, warehouse, product costs, etc.)
  • Employees
  • Rent (home and business, if they’re separate)
  • Utilities
  • Taxes
  • etc.

Don’t forget to include any subscriptions you have for yourself or your business (like your email marketing software, your subscription box app, or your Netflix subscription).

And, most importantly, don’t forget to give yourself a monthly budget for fun! Movies, employee outings, date night… these things add up.

Finally, add 10% to your total to account for any other unexpected expenses. You never know when your microwave will catch fire or your computer will crap out on you (knock on wood!).

This number is your financial goal for the year. Does it sound about right? Too high? Too low? Don’t be afraid to increase it if you’re feeling ambitious. As Pat Flynn says, it’s better to shoot for a goal that’s too high and miss, then achieve a goal that’s too low — you end up with more money that way!

Now let’s take it a step further.

Breaking it down into actionable chunks

Once you’ve got your year’s financial goal, you can break that down into quarters, months, weeks, and even days.

This can be split evenly ($100k per quarter, every quarter) or progressively ($60k Q1, $75k Q2, $100k Q3, $155k Q4). It depends on how you’re planning to grow.

Next up, we need to figure out how much you need to sell to hit your goals. This is easier if you have sales data, but if you’re starting a new store, you can still make projections.

To do this, list out all the products you sell and how much you make from each one, on average. Then, estimate what percentage each product will make of your total sales for the year. Finally, figure out what each percentage equates to in dollars.

That probably sounds a little confusing, so here’s a video:

If you want access to the spreadsheet I created in the video, you can get it here. To edit it, just go to File -> Make a copy, then name it and hit save.

Congratulations - now you know exactly what you need to sell to hit your goal for the year!

But we’re not done yet. The final step is to take those goals and turn them into actionable steps.

Turning numbers into an action plan

Now you know exactly how much product you need to move. But how are you going to do it?

There are plenty of marketing tactics to drive conversions, like Facebook retargeting, email marketing, or creating killer content. And they all work in their own right.

However, when it comes to planning, you should look at the numbers from what you’ve already done. For example, if you drove $30,000 in profit from Facebook ads this year but made $60,000 in profits from email, you know exactly where to focus your time.

(And if you want to scale your pay-per-click efforts while putting your time elsewhere, you can always hire an expert.)

But how do you figure out an actual action plan to reach your goals? You look at your conversion rates, of course!

Here’s what I mean:

If your average conversion rate on your product page is 3%, then you know for every 100 visitors you’ll make 3 sales.

So if our goal is to sell 54 cute cat cups per day, we need to drive roughly 1,800 visitors to that product page every day.

If you’re currently getting nowhere near that amount of traffic, don’t worry! It’s not as hard as you might think, and these numbers aren’t 100% accurate given that a lot of people will buy more than one thing.

(To give you an idea, I get over 5,000 visits per day to my RV accessories blog post through nothing but SEO. That’s why content marketing is so important.)

So, how can we reach those 1,800 daily unique visitors? Put those numbers into goals for your marketing channels. Make it a goal to drive 400 clicks through Facebook ads every day, another 600 through Pinterest, and another 800 through SEO and email.

By having these precise goals and metrics, you’re giving yourself something to track. And that which gets tracked, gets measured, managed, and improved.

Before you know it 1,800 visits per day will seem like a joke. Just be sure to write down your goals and test new channels!

A quick note on hiring

If you’re looking at all these traffic number goals and thinking “How am I ever going to get all this done myself?!”, it’s probably time to think about hiring.

Hiring is integral to growth. And the best time to hire someone is before you need to!

So put hiring down as a core piece of your 2019 plan. And budget for it. This will increase your income goal, but it will also free up your time to pursue the work that only you can do.

Rather than going into lots of detail about this here, just go read this guide to hiring. If you’re feeling resistance, that means you should definitely go do it right now.

Final tips, tricks, and tools to help you plan

So, by now you know your exact sales goals to have, to do, and to be everything you want in 2019. You’ve broken those goals into exact product sales numbers, calculated the amount of traffic you need to reach them, and set exact traffic goals for each of your marketing channels.

Now it’s just a matter of putting these numbers in the right place and using a few nifty tools to keep you stay on track. Let’s start with…

Full-year wall calendar

I got one of these this month and I LOVE it. It’s so helpful to be able to see the entire year at once without flipping pages.

Yearly planning for eCommerce store wall calendar

I highly recommend you start by filling out your vacation, family, and personal hobby days first. As busy entrepreneurs, we often forget to schedule time for these kinds of activities - and yet, they’re integral to our happiness and productivity.

Physical planner

While not totally necessary, having a physical planner can be helpful to keep you on track.

I actually just bought Hal Elrod’s miracle morning planner (to accompany his book, The Miracle Morning, which I highly recommend reading).

I’ve also used The Freelancer Planner by Michelle Nickolaisen and really enjoyed it. But any old planner will do.

Project management software like Asana or Trello

Having a physical planner is great if it’s just you, but if you have a team or interact with others on your task list, you’ll need something digital. Enter: Asana.

Asana was recommended to me by my business coach, Jaime Masters. I’ve been using it for over 6 months now for everything from daily to-do lists to weekly and monthly planning.

New year planning for your eCommerce store

But where it really shines is keeping your team on the same page. You can create project boards for your teammates and track tasks based on teammate, project, or due date.

There is SO much it can do that I can’t go over it all. But definitely check out this guide to getting started with Asana if you’re interested.

Alternatively, you can use Trello if you just want a basic task board. It’s free, but not nearly as robust as Asana.


Phew - if you’ve been following along, you’ve accomplished a lot in our time together!

You should now have a spreadsheet telling you the exact number of sales you need to make your dreams a reality in 2019 - and an action plan on how to get there.

While this post may be over, our time together isn’t. If you have any questions about planning, hiring, or just making 2019 an amazing year, leave a comment below! I read and respond to every single one.

And if you found this helpful, please share it so we can impact more store owners around the world!

Read Next: Set Up a One Click Upsell Shopify App to Increase Sales

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Bill Widmer

Written by Bill Widmer

Bill is an eCommerce content marketing and SEO consultant. He's run several stores and worked with many well-known brands including A Better Lemonade Stand, SaleHoo, and Lifehack.

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