The end of the year is the perfect time to evaluate and prepare for a fresh start. After a few days of relaxing, I like to make an action plan to reach my business and personal goals. These can be things like getting your dream client, having more time for things away from work or maybe even learn a new skill. To get your started, here is a checklist for growing your business, staying organised and having more time for things you love outside of work.
Creating a roadmap
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Creating a road map:
The purpose of a roadmap is to find out what your goals are and create a few clear steps for how to reach them. Some people like to make the goals almost impossibly ambitious to motivate themselves, others prefer to set realistic goals with clear timelines so you can feel excited about ticking them off during the year.
It is important that the goals you set are clear and that you have a plan for how to achieve them. Vague goals are about as useful as when a client asks for "a design that pops", what does that mean? To give you a better idea of the type of goals I am talking about, "growing my business" is a vague goal while "getting my first £10.000 project" or "hiring my first employee" are more concrete.
Once you have a list of goals you want to achieve, give each a timeline and 5-10 tasks that will help you reach them. For example:
Goal: Get my first £10.000 project
Timeline: 2 months
Research clients that could afford this service
Find out what their competitors are doing better
Create a mock project to showcase skills this client would value
Find people in my network that can connect me with this industry
Reach out to potential clients
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Knowing what actually works for your business can save you a ton of time and frustration, but it can be hard to make time for this during the year. If you have a day to spare during the holidays, I suggest making a nice cup of hot chocolate and dig in to the numbers.
The best places to start are your built in analytics which come with business social media accounts like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Here you can see what posts people engage with so you can create more of this in the future.
But hold your horses because feel good analytics such as likes will not necessarily help you get clients. The next step is to see where your sales actually come from. If you get leads through your website, check where the traffic is coming from. If you see a lot of Instagram referral traffic, keep on posting! If all your business is through word of mouth, your time might be better spent having meetings with potential collaborators.
If you feel stuck or if your website traffic is lower than you want, it might be time to do some spying.
There are a number of great sites that let you spy on your competition. This is a great way to find out what keywords work for them and what is driving traffic to their sites. In many cases, you can find other sites that link to your competitors. Consider reaching out to these and ask if they can link to your site as well. Link building is great for SEO, especially if the site linking is popular.
Clean up your website:
This is probably the furthest task from your mind in day to day work but making sure all your links work will help you in the long run. This is also a great opportunity to look over your blogposts and make sure they are still relevant. Evergreen content is best for growing your audience with minimal effort and this means updating your content to stay relevant.
Get on top of your books:
I know it might not quite be time to hand in your books yet but this is the perfect time to start making sure everything is in order and make a first effort to clean up and avoid the last minute crunch.
Organise your files:
Seeing any final.final.finalfinalversion_1 saved on the desktop of your computer? Even if it is not this bad, take some time to make sure all your files are in the right place, named appropriately and perhaps most importantly backed up. Services like Backblaze and Dropbox can help you with this by always keeping a copy of the files from your computer on the cloud. I suggest always keeping at least 3 copies of each file just to be on the safe side.
Look over your routines:
In the pursuit of productivity, task lists can grow impossibly long and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Make sure you really consider which of your tasks are actually important and which can be on your "in case I have time" list.
If you feel overwhelmed and task lists are not your thing, you can try the block planning method. This works similar to when you had subjects in school where a certain block in your schedule is dedicated to a certain type of task. For example, you might have a 3 hour block in the morning for client work, 2 hours for errands and lunch followed by 3 hours of creating content and growing your business. Your blocks can be whatever you want but it is often good to make them more or less the same each day to create a routine.
Make a "love-to-do" list:
Daniel Dowling from Fast company suggest making a "love-to-do" list along side your work tasks. This is a great way to make sure you remember to value your time and make time for things that keep you happy and motivated.
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