I have trouble thinking big. I’ll happily write a daily to-do list and plow through it, but ask me to dream about what could be and I get very uncomfortable.
I’m not a big risk taker, I’m really careful with money, and I definitely don’t want to sink all my energy into a crazy idea that won’t pan out. I’m a conservative person by nature and I like to know in advance how things will unfold.
This is how I approach my personal life. Six months before we were actually engaged Charlie and I sat down with the calendar to choose possible wedding dates. When I was pregnant with each of our children there was no question in my mind that we would find out the gender at 18 weeks. I love to plan ahead.
If left unchecked, this is also how I approach my business, for better and worse. I have to force myself to take risks and to say yes to things that don’t yet have a defined path. I have to push myself to spend money and invest back in my business so that it can grow. And I have to force myself to think big when I think about the future.
With just 19 days left in 2014, I’m setting aside my daily to-do list for now and making room for some long-term thinking. However painful it may be, it’s good medicine and will lead to healthy growth in the new year.
I’ve read enough about goal setting to know that good goals are:
I think it’s best to keep the goals list short and to share it with just a few people who really get what you’re doing and will support you in your efforts.
Here are a few of mine for the coming year:
- Double my newsletter subscribers from 4,700 to 9,400 while maintaining a 45% open rate.
- Attend fall Quilt Market as a member of the press.
- Release four new soft toy and doll patterns, one per quarter.
- Complete and release a third business-to-business ebook in the first quarter.
- Double my Instagram following from 1,300 to 2,600 by posting at least one image daily.*
*It might see crass to set social media follower numbers as a goal, but remember that as a sole proprietor you fill every role in your business, including that of social media manager. If you were hired to be the social media manager for a large company you’d have specific benchmarks to meet for growing a following and for posting frequency. Treat your tiny business with that same level of seriousness.
All of us have limited funds to invest in our businesses, and if you’re just starting out those funds may be extremely limited. Within your budget, push yourself to choose one significant thing to spend money on in 2015. It might be getting a new website, hiring a designer to create a professional logo, printing packaging materials or patterns, buying software, traveling to a show, or something else. But choose something so that you can more easily say “maybe next year” to other temptations.
I have more goals, some of them much bigger than those I’ve listed here, but I’m hanging onto them in a private way for now. Although the future is impossible to predict and impossible to fully control, these two weeks are a very good time to try to think big about your business and create a path for the coming year. Your goals will be a like beacon when you’re lost in the forest of the daily to-do list.