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3 Steps For Setting (and Completing) Goals in your Creative Business – Part 2


Yesterday we talked about the first step in setting and completing goals as a creative entrepreneur – scheduling time, brainstorming, and making a list – if you haven’t read it yet you can find the post here!  The next step?  Organize!  If you’d like to work through the post with today’s worksheet you can find it here.


1. Prioritize objectives


Start organizing and prioritizing your list by coming back to your overarching business goals and which items on your list will aid you in reaching those.  Think of your objectives as the concrete steps you are taking to reach your goals.  What order should they be in?  Do they build on each other?   If you aren’t sure where to start, step back from your list and look for categories you can put the objectives in and then prioritize within those categories.  An example category as you’re prioritizing goals in marketing your business could be ‘Social Media’ and within that would be all of your items that pertain to social media such as creating a Twitter account, how often you’re going to post on Pinterest, or your Instagram hashtags.

An example of goals vs. objectives would be getting a college degree.  Obtaining the degree and graduating from college is the goal, the individual classes in the degree program are the objectives needed to complete the goal.  Scheduling the classes into the order they should be taken would be the way that you would prioritize those objectives to reach your goal of graduating.

As you work through the remaining points below don’t be surprised if the order in which you prioritize your list changes.

2. Is it profitable?

As you are evaluating your list of goals make sure that you prioritize pieces of the puzzle that will lead to growing your bottom line.

I love to read.  If I’m interested in a topic, particularly if it relates to business, left to my own devices I will totally geek out and think that I need to devour every book, read every blog article, and research the topic forever before I act on it. Have you ever heard the saying ‘you can’t steer a car that’s not in motion’?  While reading and learning is a huge key in growing business in the long run, short term I have to remember to push myself to act as soon as I know enough to have an educated direction instead of total grasp on the subject.  I consistently remind myself that I can change and adjust the direction as needed but that motion and momentum is key.

For many creatives it is easy to get stuck in perfection instead of function. We want a clean aesthetic, every ‘i’ dotted, every page on our website matching the ideal dream template in our head.

A business is a hobby until it generates profit.

Becoming profitable at the most basic level is when the revenue coming into your business exceeds your expenses.

An example from our lives was years ago when we decided to hire a lawn care company to do all of our mowing.  At the time with both of us working in new businesses things were tight financially and we were looking for any places in our budget to cut extra spending out.  At first glance saving a little extra on lawn care seemed like an obvious move, right?  We had a (barely) working lawn mower and we could schedule time to do the yardwork, but then we stepped back and thought about it.  Sometimes the key is not the perspective of SAVING money, but MAKING money.  When we figured the number of hours a week that it would take to do it ourselves, the amount that the lawn care company would charge, and how much more my husband would make if he was billing out that time or investing it in building our fledgling business it made more sense to spend the money having someone else cut our lawn.  It felt a little scary making that choice at the time, but looking back years later that was actually a huge turning point in prioritizing objectives and profitability in our business and that change of perspective has served us well in many decisions since then.

3. Make goals manageable and measurable

If your goal is to increase your creative business by 20% in the next 6 months break it down to monthly percentages with measurable steps and measurable success.  You want to learn what works and what doesn’t.  You may find that an aspect of your marketing that you felt was integral to success means nothing to your target market.

Let me make this more personal and share one of my biggest struggles in this area.  Being a creative entrepreneur managing multiple businesses and income streams in the past has meant that I spend all my time working with clients and neglect to stay on top of accounting.  I thought that my time should first be invested in activities that generated profit and that I would just catch up when I had a slower season.  How many of you know that in running your own business there is never a time when you have empty space in your schedule just waiting to be filled!?  Accounting was a generic line item in my schedule with no small action steps or minor deadlines except for the looming date of April 15th every year.  This year I committed to changing that and set manageable weekly and monthly goals with specific days during the week for each item.  Working this plan has meant that last year’s taxes will be filed this week, almost 2 months early.  For my husband and I, while this feels like nothing short of a minor miracle, the real reason for success is that we set small, manageable goals and then completed them.  As you are working the manageability of your plan find something that you can cross off every day so that you feel the accomplishment of finishing something no matter how small.  Momentum is key!

4. Timeline

When does it need to be done? I divide my lists into daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly objectives.  Since I currently use Gmail to capture all my email accounts I have found their Calendar and Tasks easily integrate so all of my lists are in one place.  My Calendar is set up to email me the night before with my list of objectives for the next day and tasks that are scheduled further than a week out have a specific due date attached to them so that an alert will remind me instead of me having to devote valuable brain space to remembering them.

5. Resources needed

How much time, money, and energy does this goal require? Depending on your field, your goals, and the stage of business that you are in you will weigh each of these three prongs differently.

When I launched a freelance graphic design business when I first moved to Nashville 10 years ago I got stuck in the “I have time, just no money” mindset.  I spent huge amounts of time on aspects of starting my business that felt of utmost importance then but did not necessarily get me closer to launching and becoming profitable.  I obsessed over fonts on my business card, the perfect wording on my website, even the design and layout of my contracts when I should have been focusing on networking and getting my work in front of potential clients.  Outside of a few lucky projects it took me months to start really making money.  Years later when I started a photography business I had learned my lesson.  I launched with excellence but not perfection and I was profitable within 2 weeks.  With money coming in I reprinted my business cards a short time later with better wording after getting valuable feedback from clients and updated my website inbetween photo sessions.

Long story short?  Treat your time and your energy as money.  Even if you can do it yourself, sometimes spending the money on having someone else work on various aspects of your business can free up both your time and your creative energy to move your business into profits more quickly.

As a creative entrepreneur your creativity is the currency on which your business is built.

Setting and completing goals in your creative business

Let’s Chat:

  • As a creative entrepreneur, what part of the organize section of goal setting is your strength and what part is your biggest challenges?
  • What are some practical ways that you can improve the areas that are a challenge to you this week?

Come back later this week for the final post in this three part series on setting and completing goals in your creative business!

All the best,

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The creative entrepreneur's guide to marketing, design, branding, and business development