Setting business goals for the year: how to plan like a MF

Early January is a disgusting time of year. It forces you to look into the ugliness of your own life progress and assess how badly derailed it’s become. All the 2018 goals you wanted to hit, all the resolutions and improvements you swore you’d make…all pissed away like the mulled wine you drank at Christmas.

Not this year, amigo.

I’m a self-styled master of planning and organisation and I’m going to tell you how to set attainable, rewarding career goals for 2019, then how to obliterate them.

1. Write up a client ‘hit list’

I like to do this every January and it’s never seen me wrong. On my week back at work, I sit and brainstorm a list of all the dream clients within my writing niche. Who would I absolutely LOVE to work with in the coming year?

Once I have a good-sized hit list, I schedule in time to draft up unique, targeted cold pitch emails (using my own foolproof method) and sit back and wait.

Last year I locked down projects with two dream clients by simply asking for the work. You don’t ask, you don’t get. Get me?


2. Plan your projects

You can’t have a fulfilling freelance career unless you’re working on the things you love. Contrary to popular belief, you can plan the freelance projects you work on.

When I came to the end of my first year as a freelancer, I realised that I was attracting a lot of FinTech clients. Needless to say—it wasn’t really the vision I had for my business. I rebranded myself as a B2C writer and started deliberately pitching myself at agencies and companies who represented my own interests and writing joys.

If you have a few clients they give you the work you enjoy, there’s no harm in reaching out and letting them know how much you enjoyed working with them and that you’d love to take on more work if they have it. As I said—there’s no harm in asking for the shit you want.


3. Outline your personal business goals

Let’s sex this thing up with a few personal targets too, shall we? Just to give you a lil inspo, these are the targets I set myself last year:

I started with a monthly revenue target which was a slight lift on the revenue I bring in when I’m toddling along at a moderate effort level. By imposing a target, I managed to score a 13% lift in business growth, YoY.

I also set myself the challenge of snagging three new and totally awesome clients. Of the five I pitched, two of them gave me work. That’s two more than I would have gotten if I’d done nothing!

As well as scoring wicked new clients, I also wanted to cut ties some of the clients that really made me dread coming to work. By the end of April, I had successfully (and amicably) ended a relationship with a pretty toxic client.

My final target was to win an award. Although I didn’t quite get round to this, I did win a project that I really, really wanted to work on. I was so incredibly made up with the work, that I forgave myself for not winning that award!


4. Fail-proof plan of attack

Business goals are easier to achieve if you have a plan or a starting point. Rome wasn’t built in a day, dude. You gotta take this thing step-by-step.

Here are some ways you can make it super fricken easy to achieve your business goals:

Set attainable targets
I’m not going to set myself the challenge of scoring £10k a month, because I know I’ll never fucking make it. I know how much I charge and what a super busy month looks like for me, so I’ll base my revenue targets on an ATTAINABLE lift from that base figure.

Make sure your targets are things you’re in control of
It’s pretty fucking hard to hit a business goal that involves the performance or free-will of someone else. For example, I can’t set a target like “I want Mr. X to offer me a big project next year“, instead, I should angle it so that it’s within my control: “Pitch Mr X for a cool project“.

Be specific
Vague targets suck because you never really know if you’ve smashed them or not. Instead of setting a target like “Get more business this year“, how about we narrow that sucker down to “Get 3 more clients this year“?

Use a timeline
When setting business targets, I like to make sure I’m performing consistently well over the course of the whole year. This means setting targets which I can achieve in the first 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months. If you use a diary or calendar, it helps to mark out time to review how far you’ve come and what you need to do to press on. Book all your review session in at the beginning of the year so you don’t forget!

Are you ready to plan the shit outta the year? I should hope so! If you have any of your own tips for career or business planning, pop a link below and share!

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