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Happy new year, colleague!
I hope you were able to take some time off over Christmas to regroup. Now’s the time to have a think back over 2020 and make some plans for the new year. Before we get started with that - well done for making it through a really tough year. Whatever state your business (or you!) are in - we made it. Don’t forget to celebrate your wins, however small they might feel, as you made them happen during a frigging pandemic, within a climate crisis, in the lead-up to Brexit. Just think about how simultaneously remarkable and depressing that is…
Today’s newsletter is all about setting goals for a fresh year - and read on for details of TWO free events this month to help you stick to them.
If you’ve got that ‘new year, new energy’ feeling, you might be bubbling over with ideas for improving your business in 2021, but are perhaps unsure where to start. Alternatively, if the past year has left you feeling drained, a bit of clarity could be just the ticket too.
Whatever your energy levels, a goal setting session is one of the best ways to start a new year.
“You can’t achieve what you can’t measure,” says life and career coach Sarah Bryer. “At times in my life I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I just bimbled along. But the more you focus, the more likely you are to achieve it – it’s the law of attraction.”
Just ask her husband: “He told me he’d always wanted to be a train driver, and I asked ‘what have you done to achieve it?’ He hadn’t done anything, but he started putting all of his energy into researching it and training – and despite being a competitive field, he managed to find a job.”
If you choo-choo-choose the right goals, this time next year could look very different for you, too.
How to set your monthly business goals
Make it measurable to keep you motivated. “In the corporate world people used to set goals and not know if they’d achieved them or not, which is why businesses now focus on measurable goals,” says Sarah. “If you say you want to make 50 sales by the end of March, it’s specific and measurable. Not only that, but you can break it down to know what your smaller goals would be for January and February too.”
Sarah recommends having a vision and a mission for your business. Your vision is the plan for what your business is going to look like, and your mission is the wider goal that drives you. For Out Of Office, for example, my mission is to build a community of self-employed women who can help one another and share advice. My vision - spoiler alert - is to start a Patreon group that can help financially support the work of the newsletter, in exchange for additional events and perks. When you really nail down your mission, it’s a lot easier to plan steps towards your vision.
Vision – steps - goals
Once you know the vision for your business, there are probably some obvious steps that you need to take in various areas, including promotion, finances, outsourcing, etc.
For example, if your vision is creating a sales business that has lots of returning customers, one step is understanding what would draw people back for a second/third/millionth sale. So one obvious goal could be collecting responses in a survey of existing customers. And don’t forget to set a number of responses you’re aiming for, to keep it measurable. If you run a service-based business, and the next step is making money from a wider range of sources to increase your financial resilience, perhaps the goal is sending out ten new pitches or cold emails this month to engage new clients.
Let’s be honest, 2020 was a bit of a kick in the face for most of us, so don’t forget to be kind to yourself when choosing your goals. “If something is hard, set a ridiculously small goal,” says Sarah. If there’s something you know you ought to be doing but loathe, could you commit to five minutes a day, for example, posting to social media or keeping an eye on your accounts? Then you could build up to 10 minutes per day in February.
You could also divide each month into specific themes, eg January is for sorting your accounts; February is for market research or approaching new potential clients, etc. Just don’t take on too much in one go (Sarah recommends sticking to three specific goals at most at any one time).
Keep yourself accountable
A problem that several OOO readers have mentioned to me is the issue of accountability. If no one is looking over your shoulder, or praising/punishing based on your results, it’s easy to lose motivation. “There’s no one to answer to when you’re self-employed. No one is going to say: ‘why have you been on Facebook all day?’” says Sarah. “But people like accountability – that’s why they go to weight loss groups or book clubs. It’s one of the things that’s particularly hard to come by during covid.”
There are several ways to keep yourself accountable – you could make a weekly Zoom date with another self-employed friend to check in with one another. It could be a chance to talk about anything that’s held you back, do some problem-solving, and celebrate those all important wins.
Or, as Sarah suggests, you could write a list at the end of each day to summarise what you’ve achieved: “I’m answering to myself in a notebook, so at the end of the week I can really prove to myself that I’ve moved the dial in my business.”
Free accountability coffee breaks!
Alternatively, why not come along to two free Out Of Office accountability chats? I’m hosting one this Friday at 11am, and a follow-up on Friday 29th. The first one is an opportunity to celebrate any wins from December, set some intentions for January, and map out how you’re going to hit your targets. The second is a chance to look back and see whether you achieved what you wanted – and set new goals for February. You’re also welcome to watch without speaking if you’re shy (but we’re a nice group, I promise!)
Looking for New Year inspiration? Read about the self-employed women who doubled their income last year.
Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see covered in OOO in 2021 - just hit reply.