Set Up Your Creative Business for Success in the New Year
Well hello my pretties! Here we are, at the start of another brand new year. 2018 was a wild, fast-paced, exhausting ride (mostly in a good way) and personally, I’m ready for a more serene 2019.
Last January, I made a long list of goals. I set high expectations for myself. I honestly thought I had it all figured out, and I was ready to tackle all of my lofty ideas. I was dreaming big. I was hopeful, ambitious, and confident. You would think that would be a recipe for success. But the one thing I was missing? An actual plan to back it all up. (Well, that and a little bit more self-awareness). I sat down and furiously scribbled ALL of the things I wanted to do, all of the milestones and accomplishments I wanted to achieve - but I didn’t give myself realistic, actionable steps to get there. I set myself up to spin in circles, instead of giving myself a straightforward path to follow.
My list had a big financial goal, abstract savings plans, a high number of weddings to book, a loose number of workshops to teach, about 400 ideas of what I could do to generate passive income - just a whole lot of stuff, basically.
Fast forward to now - how many of those big goals did I achieve? Well, I didn’t achieve my income goal, for starters. But I did double my income from last year. Not bad, yeah? I lost count of how many weddings I booked…but in retrospect, I kinda wish I had booked less. I set out to do 4 chalkboard menus for restaurants…and then I didn’t do a single one. But I tripled the amount of on-site calligraphy jobs for high-end brands that I had set out to do, kind of accidentally. I had planned to rely on multiple passive income streams as a part of my monthly revenue, but it took me almost the entire year to finally set up one solid passive income stream (But at least I did it eventually!). All in all, I managed to check a few things off my list, some things completely fell by the wayside, and some things just worked out in a different way than I expected. I did not make enough time for friends and family, or for myself, so that has to change. But otherwise, I learned a lot about what I actually want to do, and how exactly I’m going to set out to do it from now on.
So as I see a lot of “New year, new me” posts creeping up and a lot of long lists & big dreams, I have a few words of wisdom to offer (because I am, in fact, a 1000 year old oracle who lives in a glowing cave in the forest). This wisdom involves being grounded, honest, and pragmatic about your future plans. I completely, totally encourage you to dream big, and go for what you want with your whole heart. But it’s also super important to remember:
1) You are just one person. Yes, you are capable of anything you set your mind to. But you can’t do everything you set your mind to all of the time. And that’s okay.
2) Setting goals is a great way to start the year, but it’ll be oh-so-much-better if you get really honest with yourself and set realistic goals and actionable steps that will help you achieve them.
If I could go back in time, I would have slashed that “2018 To-Do List” in half, and instead of things like “Paint a shitload of pretty things in watercolour, then scan and digitize them to make passive income” (yes, I actually wrote that) I would have sat down and really thought, in detail, about which goals on this list were the most realistic. Those are the ones I would keep, and I would go one step further and write down exactly how I would make them happen. So that sentence could have looked more like “Paint a floral watercolour pattern, digitize it, and upload it to an online marketplace such as Etsy or Creative Market, where it can be purchased for personal or commercial use”.
When setting important goals - not just at the start of a new year, but throughout the year and over the course of developing your business - there are some key things to keep in mind.
First - know yourself, and even more importantly, accept yourself. There is this feeling in the air around New Years (which is kind of magical, admittedly) that at midnight, the clock resets. You get to start all over again with a crystal clean slate. But - and not to be a cold heartless bitch here - that just isn’t true. You’re still the same person you were at 11:59pm. You still have the same flaws, and the same bad habits. But, you’re also the same badass individual who has survived everything that life has thrown at you so far. Of course, it’s great to be self-aware enough to know that there are areas in your life that you want to improve. I’m just saying don’t beat yourself up if there are certain aspects of your personality or behaviours that are probably here to stay. I would love to tell myself that 2019 is the year that I’m going to magically get better at keeping track of my finances, or stop procrastinating, but I know myself and I know that’s more than likely never going to happen. What I can do is help myself out a bit by setting goals that align with my strengths & passions, and then clearly outline the steps I need to take to make them happen. So instead of heading into the new year expecting to meet a whole new and improved version of yourself, just be nice enough to yourself to accept the imperfections. Don’t make yourself promises you know deep down you can’t keep. Do be understanding with yourself about what your struggles are, and ask for help when you need it.
Set fewer, bigger goals, and work backwards. Personally, I will be keeping my list of goals for 2019 short and sweet - but detailed. A great example of this is is something every freelancer should do - setting your revenue goal for the year! When I first started my business, I was flying by the seat of my pants, not knowing how much I would make from one month to the next, and honestly just crossing my fingers that I would have enough money once the bills came. It was stressful, scary, and unsustainable. And I thought that was just how it was supposed to be, as a freelancer. Now, thankfully, I’ve completely shifted my mindset. It is essential that you start the year with a revenue goal, and work backwards from there. Decide how much you want to make for the year, and then divide that by 12 to figure out how much you need to make per month. Once you have that number, you can just plug in the products and services you offer to figure out how much of each you need to set up every month in order to meet your goal. This same principle applies to almost any other goal - even personal ones. A lot of people - myself included - jot down “spend more time with friends & family”. Okay, fine. It’s a lovely sentiment. But before you know it, it’s been 364 days since you spent any meaningful time with your Grandma, and you’re back to square one. So instead, start with “Spend more time with friends & family”. And then ask yourself exactly what that means to you. Is it weekly Sunday night dinner with your parents? Monthly Girls’ Night Out with your besties? Think about what kind of activity you actually want to do, and how frequently you can honestly commit to doing it… and then make it a regular thing!
Alright, before this blog post turns into a novel, I’ll sign off - I still have no idea what I’m wearing to the NYE party I’m going to (yes, I have been convinced to leave my house for once) and I also need to go out and pick up more bubbly (pray for me, it’s December 31st and the liquor store is going to be a battlefield). It’s been an incredible year and I am so grateful to each and every one of you who actually takes the time to check out my blog posts, read my crazy long Instagram captions, and watch my one-too-many-stories about cuddling with my dog.
Happy New Year and All the best for 2019!
Thank you for reading, babes! I hope you found this blog post to be helpful - If you did, it would mean the world to me if you could share it on Pinterest!
(Like, I would send you a box of chicken nuggets as a thank you, if I could)
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