Setting Your Business-Building Goals for 2007

It's 2007, and I just can't wait to get to work. There's nothing like having a fresh start, a clean agenda book, and a lot of energy to put into an upcoming year.

To make sure I accomplish everything I'm hoping to do – without putting undo pressure on myself – here's how I set my yearly goals.

I block out a few hours during which I won't answer phones or emails. Then I get a steaming cup of hot tea and start writing down my ideas.

It starts out as a huge wish list. I whittle down this list to two main goals and a few smaller ones. And I write these down in a place where I can check them regularly.

For example, my two main goals for 2006 were:

  • Get enough work the rest of the year so I can take the summer off and spend time fishing and playing with our three young boys.
  • Land a client in New York (since I LOVE going there and visiting art galleries).

Main Goal #1 has been on my list for several years, but 2006 was the first year I REALLY hit my mark. I know I'll repeat it in 2007, so this goal moves to my smaller goal list for 2007. It's still important, but I know I can meet it.

I wasn't as successful with Main Goal #2. I landed a few projects in the NY area – but not enough to be able to travel there quarterly. Since this is still something I would LOVE to accomplish, it stays as one of my top two goals for 2007.

A smaller goal for 2006 was to get a self-promotional website up. Although it still needs some work, I'm proud to say this is OFF MY LIST.

To set your goals for the year, first ask yourself what would REALLY jumpstart your freelance design business. What do you need to learn? Who do you need to contact? What, specifically, do you need to do?

Once you honestly answer those questions, write them down as a list of things you need to accomplish that will shoot you toward success as a freelance designer. Then turn that list into two or three main goals for the year and several smaller ones.

Here are some possible goals to consider:

  • Reduce the hours you're working at your full-time job and start getting your own clients.
  • Send out a packet of samples to 2 new contacts per week.
  • Save money to purchase a few great/useable fonts.
  • Buy a book and learn new skills in Photoshop.
  • Take off 1 week to spend with your family.
  • Create a simple website for yourself.
  • Come up with a company/business name and logo.
  • Learn more about copywriting.

During our recent Bootcamp, I spoke with many designers about how goals keep us on track for success. Here's what Doug Farrick, who owns Fresh Design, Inc. in Greenfield MA, shared:

“For goals to work (for me, anyway), they need to be like guideposts. For example, I plan the week ahead on Sunday evenings. (Everyone should do this. Of course, you should also do monthly and yearly planning in advance.

“I list goals for the week, and ask myself, 'What is the most important (but not necessarily urgent) thing that I need to accomplish by week's end?' It's important that you don't go crazy and give yourself a TON of things to do. I typically like to stay in the 3-4 item range.

“I write these goals down and keep them where they are visible. I set some time every day to focus on them. This keeps my energies going in my intended direction.

“Don't be a slave to your goals. We shouldn't feel bad if we cannot accomplish them. Use them as tools to help you focus. When you use them like that, they become a welcome tool and not another annoying 'Thing to Do.'”

Doug's comments are very insightful. Besides writing your goals down (which you must do), make sure to SHARE them with someone close to you – perhaps another designer or friend. And make it a point to talk about your goals out loud.

If all you do is keep a list of goals on the first page of your 2007 agenda, there's a good chance you will NOT accomplish them.

Check every two weeks or so to evaluate your progress. Make definite plans for moving forward with your goals – how you can make them happen by taking small, easily accomplished steps: step one, step two, step three, and so forth.

Good luck this year on your career! Be good to yourself – and all the best to you and yours.

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Published: January 11, 2007

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