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How to set goals for your creative business

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

When you run your own business or work hard in your day job, it is easy to get lost in being busy. We keep working on what is right in front of us and often forget, or feel like we don't have time, to work on our business. In my experience, setting new goals is one of the best ways to get motivated and it will help your business grow. But there are a few things to consider before you get started.

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  • Set aside enough time

  • Start with your mission question - what do you care about?

  • Create a big scary goal

  • Work backwards to create the steps to get there

Set aside enough time

Big decisions and rushing never go well together. We often decide to set new goals for our business when we feel frustrated or stuck. That is ok and can be a great motivator but when it comes to actually coming up with goals and a strategy, you need to be well rested and not feel stressed about clients that might call. Once you know you want to set new goals for your business, I suggest putting aside 3 days. They do not have to be all in a row. On day one, you will look at your business now and see what is working well and what needs to improve. On day two, you will do some research. Look in to your competitors, get new inspiration and find new solutions to your problems. On the third and final day, organise your findings and create a plan.

Start with your mission question - what do you care about?

Monetary goals or just working to grow your business is never enough to keep someone motivated, but even if it was it does not bring any passion to your business. Having a mission statement is helpful but we often forget what it is or our mission statement is something vague like "creating great designs that people like". In the book Make your Mark, you learn about a Mission question. This is the big problem you are dedicating your business to solving and it can work as a guiding light for day to day decisions.

For example, I create brands for purpose driven companies, mainly charities and social enterprises. We made our question: "How can we help sustainable companies become the norm?". This encapsulates so many of the things we do - from working with packaging that reduces waste to helping companies that improve diversity and accessibility. Now when we make a decision, we can ask how it helps us reach this goal.

Create a big scary goal

Besides that guiding mission question, we also need more tangible goals. What will your day to day business look like in 1,3 or 5 years? How much do you want to work? Will you hire someone? Will you have an office and who will your clients be? What impact will your work have? Setting a big goal that feels a bit out of reach is important. I used to be nervous about setting too big goals because I thought it would be de-moralising if I did not reach them. The truth is, we often hold ourselves back this way. Instead, you know that this is an ambitious goal, and that is exciting. Even though your goal is ambitious, be practical in what it means. If you want to build a bigger team, how much money will you need to make? If you are offering a new service, what new skill do you need to learn.

Work backwards and write down the steps to get there

Now we have a clear picture of what we want to future of your business to look like, it is time to create an action plan. Just staring at an inspiration board and your mission question will leave you paralysed. Instead, break the goal up in to stages and tasks. For example, I want to work more closely with the government's sustainability programs to help brands improve their packaging. My steps might look something like:

1. Find out which government programs exist in my city

2. Visit a recycle station and learn more about packaging materials

3. Speak to my printer about what is possible and how it works

4. Find brands that need help with sustainable packaging

5. Reach out to the government programs and schedule a meeting

6. Create a process for sustainable package design

7. Offer the service on my website

You should make the steps small enough that they feel actionable and you can keep breaking each up in to smaller tasks as soon as you feel stuck or overwhelmed.

As a last note, creating new goals for yourself and your business should feel exciting and rewarding. You might not be there yet, but don't forget to appreciate what you have already accomplished.

If you are setting new goals for your business, join our Facebook group and share it with our creative community. Everyone is welcome and we are a very supportive bunch!


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