Do you work both in—and on—your business? Beyond just making, selling, shipping— do you also work on goal setting, strategizing, planning?
A couple years ago, I worked with a maker who wanted to set a comprehensive strategy for the calendar year. He dreamed, and together, we worked on setting S.M.A.R.T. goals (more on these later). Then, we turned them into actionable steps that he could accomplish incrementally. The problem was that he didn’t set aside time each week to work on his business, and he got so busy fulfilling customer orders that, by the end of the year, he’d made little progress on his plan. And, unfortunately, his sales remained stagnant that year overall.
I find the simple truth is this: when people don’t work on their businesses, those businesses stop growing. The very success of your business can draw you so far into day-to-day operations that you stop thinking about the next step.
January presents a great time to re-assess yourself and your business, because it’s typically the slowest time of the year, and because it’s an opportunity to start the year anew.
The first step to Big your Gig is to re-assess the past year(s) and analyze what has and has not been working for you.
Time: are you so busy and overwhelmed with your business that you just. can’t. anymore? It might be time for some help. Online services, like Worldwide 101 or Elance, provide virtual administrative, marketing, etc. assistance. You might also consider finding someone to run errands for you, or to make some of the easier parts of your product.
New hardware could help, too. For product photography, light boxes provide consistent lighting and a clean backdrop and eliminate editing hours on the back end (MyStudio PS5). A label maker can save time on processing orders (DYMO 450).
Other areas to assess:
- Target customer: are you going after the right person? If you aren’t seeing a lot of traction, it may be time to re-consider who wants what you’re selling.
- Distribution channels: are you selling in enough places to achieve your goals? Are your wholesale accounts working for you? Do you need to select better fairs or markets in 2015?
- Product development: is it time to breath new life into your product offerings?
- Finances: are your margins high enough to keep your business healthy? Assess both your product cost and price.
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
What do you dream for your business in 2015? If you said something like: “to increase my sales,” well, that’s nice and all, but it isn’t terribly helpful. Instead, each goal should be structured in a way that will actually help you accomplish it.
S: specific (To increase sales of my xyz product)
M: measurable (by 15% over 2014 monthly sales)
A: attainable (15% is reasonable… 100% might not be)
R: relevant (does this goal matter to your overall strategy?)
T: time-bound (for each month of 2015).
And, taken as a whole, that SMART goal would read: To increase sales of my xyz product by 15% over 2014 monthly sales for each month of 2015.
Make a plan
Alright, you’ve got the goals. Now, what will you do each week or each month to achieve them?
The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Planner (aka how to keep your business and your sanity), is affectionately created just for you — to help you start each week with things you want and need to accomplish. It helps you prioritize tasks by importance and then carve out time to get them done.