If you’re wondering how to clearly and effectively set goals for your creative business, then this post is for you.
It’s that time of year again – the New Year! – which means it’s time for annual planning, goal-setting, and dreamscaping your creative business. This is a mega-popular topic at the beginning of the year, but the tips I’m about to share with you can be done at any time.
In fact, I recommend returning to this exercise every quarter to review your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your overall annual goals.
Setting annual goals and a plan to reach them is essential to know where you’re headed with your creative biz. Your goals serve as your compass on the ever-winding trail of the creative entrepreneurship journey so that when things get tough, you feel lost, or you feel like you’ve taken a tangential route, you can use your goals to get back on course.
But if goal-setting feels cumbersome, overwhelming, or downright confusing to ya, I’ve got you covered.
I’m sharing my top 5 tips to set effective goals for your creative biz that will inspire you, motivate you, and help you grow over the course of the next year.
You ready? Let’s dive in.
5 Tips to Set Annual Business Goals
Tip 1: Get Clear on How You Want to Feel Before You Set Your Goals.
I know, I know. Typically when people talk about how to set goals for business they’re not all mushy-gushy about feelings. Goals are supposed to be rooted in cold, hard data and facts, right? Well, yes. But also, that’s not the full story.
If you just focus on the numbers, you’re leaving yourself and potentially your well-being behind. So before you dive into data, ask yourself,
“How do I want to feel this year? How do I want my business to feel this year?”
Take ten minutes to free-write your answers to these questions. Then select 3-5 key words from your answers that capture the essence of how you want to feel this year.*
For example, your key-words might be joyful, energized, and calm.
Whatever feels true to you, jot those feelings down and keep them visible each day as a guide for how you show up to your biz this year.
If you want to take this one step further, I recommend creating a Vision Board for your year based on your core feelings. Every December (or early January), I love to hop on Pinterest and collect images that capture my desired feelings and the visuals of the goals.
This might look like specific illustration and design projects, a dream studio space, and trips I want to take. Then, I collage those images on a Word document and print it off.
Keep your vision board on your desk alongside your core desired feelings to guide you each day.
*This is a very condensed version of Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map method which I highly recommend.
Tip 2: Reflect On Last Year. Get Clear On What Worked and What Didn’t.
Set aside an afternoon to reflect on your last year in business (or, if you’re brand new to creative entrepreneurship, reflect on your last year personally with your current job).
Take time to free-write your answers to these questions:
1. What worked really well?
2. What didn’t work?
3. What could be done better?
4. What did I dislike?
5. What did I love?
Then, take a look at the numbers.
• Did you meet your revenue goals? If not, what needs to change?
• Did you grow your audience in the way you wanted to? If not, how can you make adjustments?
• Is there a product that didn’t make enough revenue to be worth it? If so, can you cut it out or make it more profitable?
A bonus step is to make a “NO” list of tasks, projects, or services you’ll no longer offer based on your insights. For example, maybe you want more freedom in your business so an item on your “NO” list is physical inventory because you’re shifting entirely to print on demand.
Knowing where you’ve been is equally important to knowing where you’re going when you set your business goals. Be sure to refer back to this annual reflection exercise when you get to Tip #4.
Tip 3: Make a Predictable, Possible, and Potential Revenue Goal.
Since you’re in business, or launching a creative biz, you gotta have revenue. Based on your time reflecting on last year’s numbers, establish a predictable revenue goal for your business this upcoming year.
Your predictable revenue goal is the amount of money you’re used to making in a year. If you’re just starting out, this number might be really low. If you’re 3 years in, your number might be higher.
So, let’s say last year your business generated $60k in revenue. Okay, so your predictable revenue goal for this upcoming year could be $60k.
Then, make a possible revenue goal. Based on your predictable revenue goal, what number feels like a stretch, but is still believable? With the example of $60k, your possible revenue goal might be $90k. Land on a number that feels like growth without feeling discouraging.
Lastly, make your potential revenue goal. What number feels out-of-this-world-ridiculous? Like, “I have no idea how I’d do this?” Write it down.
Keep your predictable, possible, and potential revenue goals visible to remind yourself of your business revenue goals each day. Use them as a guide to know how much you’ll need to sell your offers, products, and services or what new services you’ll need to introduce to meet your goals.
Tip 4: Set Specific Business Goals That Meet Your Version of Success.
Now we get into the nitty gritty fun part! Using all of the previous tips, set 3 specific business goals for the year that both capture your desired feelings that you established in Tip #1 and meet your version of success.
So, for example, if you’re further along in your business and your desired feelings are joyful, energized, and calm, and your version of success is both a comfortable income and lots of free-time to spend with your family, your Big 3 might be:
1. Book 3 design clients a month (gives you energy and joy while making you income).
2. Launch an online course for passive income (teaching gives you joy and passive income helps you feel calm, makes you income, and gives you more time to be with family).
3. Hire a VA to schedule marketing posts (makes you feel calm, energized, and gives you more time to spend with your family).
If you have the same feelings and version of success in the previous example, but you are just starting your creative biz, your big three might be:
• Get clear on my business strategy and foundation (gives you a sense of calm because you have clarity and energy because you have direction).
• Sell 10 mugs per month while balancing my part-time job (gives you joy and energy to be doing what you love and making money doing it).
• Make a business income plan to reduce my part-time job from 30 hours to 20 hours a week so I can slowly transition into my business full-time (makes you feel calm because you still have consistent paychecks from your job while you transition into your business fully).
Tip 5: Schedule Your Major Launches & Big Business Goals. BUT. Schedule Your Time Off First.
Yep. That’s right. It’s tempting to roll right into scheduling your big business goals, launches, sales, and product releases, but before you put any of that on the calendar, put you first.
When are you going to take time off to rest, travel, or be with family? Schedule your time off in your calendar first – physically write it down and put it in your digital calendar – before you schedule your work dates.
This will ensure that you are integrating your life and well-being into your work schedule so you can prevent burnout before it even starts.
Once you’ve done that, then put your launches, product releases, and big dates on the calendar. Bonus! Seeing your business goals mapped out ahead of time will help you craft a strategic marketing content calendar.
Now that you’ve set goals for your biz this year, are you wondering what other key action steps you need to start?
Download your free “Creative Biz Checklist” right here: