6 Steps to Clarify Your Business Goals

Stop for a moment and think about where your freelance business was exactly one year ago today.

  • What types of projects occupied your time?
  • Who were your clients?
  • How much were you charging?
  • Which new opportunities were you pursuing?

Jump ahead to today. How would you answer those questions now? What, if anything, has changed?

Are you where you want to be with your business?

So often, we as business owners, freelancers, and solopreneurs get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of working IN our business. After all, you need to not only do actual work for clients that pays the bills, but also handle the other sales, marketing, financial, and legal aspects of running your business.

However, working ON your business is just as important. If you’re not familiar with the difference, working IN your business is about engaging in the day-to-day operations. Working ON your business is about improving and growing your business.

As a career and personal branding consultant, I’ve observed which behaviors regularly drive success across the hundreds of business owners and professionals I’ve coached. One thing I see time and time again is that those who iron out their goals end up being more successful in achieving the business results they desire.

Here are six simple steps you can take to clarify your goals for your freelance business in 2016 and the steps necessary to get there.

First, Review the Past Year

1. Revisit business goals

Take a moment to remind yourself what you had hoped to achieve in in the past year. Gaining X number of new clients? Reaching a certain level of income? Growing your business income by X percent?

2. Evaluate current progress

Now, rate yourself on how well you achieved each goal. The simplest version of this is where you can just indicate yes or no. However, I like to use a rating scale: 0 = no progress to 10 = achieved goal.

3. Audit your activities

Take stock of which activities have contributed to you achieving these goals. For example, if you wanted to grow your client base by certain amount, list out your marketing and outreach activities. Then, give each a rating: 0 = extremely ineffectiveto 10 = very extremely effective.

Now, Look Ahead

4. Identify your top priority

Try to hone in on a singular, primary goal for your business. This could be a growth target, monthly revenue target, or even a lifestyle target (e.g., “Building a business where I can take X weeks off this year”). You can have more than one, but identifying your #1 priority will help you focus your business decisions.

5. Pinpoint tactics

Once you’ve identified your #1 goal, lay out the specific tactics you’ll use to achieve that goal. These could build on activities you rated highly in Step 3, which worked well in the past, or they could be new tactics. Get as specific as possible.

6. Define metrics

Be sure to define how you will measure success, sometimes referred to as a “SMART” goal. For example, if your goal is to increase your income by X percent, and your tactic is to achieve this goal by raising your fees X percent, a milestone could be “Having 100 percent of my clients paying me at my new rate by Dec. 2016.”

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