As we ease towards the end of 2010, now might be a good time for freelancers and contractors to start thinking about their business goals and objectives for next year. Setting goals is an effective way of ensuring that you are headed in the right direction, and places the work that you do within a wider context.
By using goals and objectives in the right way, you can establish a roadmap for freelance success!
Setting goals for your business
The first thing to establish is the difference between the two. A ‘goal’ refers to what you are totally committed to achieving as a small business owner (which effectively is what you are). This may be to re-adjust the line of your core business from, say, a web designer serving small businesses to a web designer providing services for large corporates. Think long and hard about what it is you really wish to achieve, where you want to be in three months, six months or a years time. And be honest with yourself.
As a general rule, it’s inadvisable to set goals beyond a year because market conditions may change, or even your own priorities. It makes them seem an impossibly long way off. By keeping goals close, they will appear as more than just a distant dream.
Objectives: paving the way towards your goals
Objectives are the stepping stones which guide you to achieving your goals. They must be verifiable in some way, whether that’s statistically or by some other achievable concept such as, for a freelance writer, taking on a first web copy job in a particular industry. It’s crucial that your objectives lead you logically towards your goal and are quantifiable.
The great thing is, after each objective is achieved, you get rewarded with a warm feeling of satisfaction and a hearty slap on the back. Applied by yourself of course, metaphorically.
As with your goals, your objectives should be well thought out. The time you take to draw up your goals and objectives will ultimately save you time by leading on a road to greater efficiency and effectiveness in the long run.
Achieving greater effectiveness and efficiency
Goals and objectiveness are directly related to doing your job better and more efficiently. It’s what all freelancers and contractors need to be aiming towards: a constantly evolving process which leads to long-term business success.
Success, of course, means different things to different people. For some it’s increased profits, for others it may be to attain a better work/life balance. Yet, both require planning. Both require us to be more efficient and effective at what we do – and it’s our objectives that will lead us to achieving such goals (though the goals will have to be a bit more specific).
Updating your goals and objectives
When you’ve achieved your goal (as a result of achieving all the objectives along the way), it will be time to set a new goal, and so the process starts all over again. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be constantly setting challenging goals. After all, if you want to maintain your current market position and salary, then that can be your goal. Planning how you want to achieve may be pretty simple, but it still may be worth doing to guard against complaceny!
Goals and objectives should be born from a business plan, hopefully established before you commenced your freelance career. By simply updating goals and objectives, your business plan is never forgotten and remains practical and relevant to your day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month business functions.
If you need a little help, see our Guide to Writing a Business Plan.