You don’t necessarily have any goals other than you don’t want to work for “the man.” And that’s ok. However, if you don’t want to find yourself in 6 months or a year going back to “that man” then you should be thinking about how your plans are going to reach your goals.
I’m going to share with you 5 ways to improve your plan so that you can stay as far away from “the man” as you can.
1. Think Bigger
Most freelancers think constantly about getting clients. What ends up happening is that they are focused on just that and nothing else.
I’ve heard folks set goals of doubling their clients, landing one large client, and yes, even land that dream client.
These are all great goals, but are they big enough?
When I started setting goals for my business I would set goals that I figured that I could reach. It didn’t push the limits of what I was capable of.
Now I’m not one of those hustlers that flies all over the world looking for clients. I’m most comfortable when I’m doing my thing in the comfort of my own home.
Knowing that about myself put a limit or a cap on my goal setting. Sure I would be able to reach those goals I set because I knew they were reachable. However once achieved I wasn’t sure what was next.
I encourage you to push yourself a bit more than 2X your clients. Make it 5X or 10X. If your goal is double your revenue, make it 5 times your revenue, or better yet, 5 times your profit.
Sure you may not get there, but by setting the bar higher, you’ll push yourself even more. You will find ways to get as close to that goal as possible.
2. Define Your Focus
Have you taken on a project or a client that you knew from the start would turn out bad in the end?
Sure you have and you did so for one reason, to get that invoice out.
Having a defined focus will help you in making the better choices around the tough decisions you need to make as a freelancer.
By focus, I mean having a vision for why it is that you do what you do. As a result of what you are putting into the world, how is the “world” a better place?
Some folks call these mission statements or core values or a vision. Whatever term you want to put on it, take a couple of days and reflect on answering these questions about yourself and your business. Write them down some place that is always visible to you.
When tough choices presented to you, all you have to do is go right to your focus.
Do any of these choices align with my focus?
Does this ‘thing’ distract me away from remaining focused?
If I make a choice will it further my focus?
Along with defining your ideal client and solution, having a clear focus is the foundation that allows you to be able to stay on track of your ultimate goals.
3. Get Support
Have you felt this way before?
Are you feeling like this now?
You know I’m an introvert, however being a part of several different types of communities over the years have helped me grow not just my business, but as a person.
This year for me was all about getting out in front of the world. I’ve been a part of several different masterminds this year. I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded folks in a few different communities as well. For me, it’s been WP Elevation and Youpreneur (enrollment is open right now, get in before it closes). I even got a mentor, Curtis McHale, this year as well.
When you are sitting at your desk all day long, for weeks on end, you get bogged down in the day-to-day. You almost get sucked into this mire of muck that is too deep that the more you struggle, the more it sucks you in.
When you get out from behind that desk and have conversations with other folks, you hear bits and pieces about what other people see in you and your business. You start to see glimpses into your business that otherwise would’ve been buried in the muck.
Sure it’s awkward at times. Even outright uncomfortable. But the value you get from having those folks around you and insights into what they have to say far outweighs any of that awkwardness.
The other side of this, and the most important side too. These are the closest 5 people to you.
Does your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, kids, family members, best friend know what you do and support you in the way you need them to?
If not, then figure out why or what’s wrong. Does your dreams align with theirs? If friends are constantly pulling you in different directions or if family doesn’t respect the work space you need, it’s time to either set those boundaries or, and I hate to say it, possibly move away from those people.
Make sure that the 5 closest are all on your train. They may be in different cars and question some of the things you do sometimes, but as long as they want to get to the same destination, then you are good.
Bottom line, surround yourself with folks that can support you but also be there to hold you a bit to the fire. Having folks that motivate you or accelerate your growth will help you improve your business greatly.
4. Define, Improve and Systemize One Process
Whatever your goals are there is a reason they are a goal and not something you achieved. There is something standing in the way currently.
If your goal is to grow your client base by some factor, what is it that stands in the way of you doing that?
Do you only have word of mouth referrals to bring in leads?
Do you send out lots of follow up emails manually when a client comes onboard that takes up lots of time?
Do you have a defined sales process that you repeat over and over again?
Is your website blocking your leads or not providing enough information for your leads to become clients?
Analyze the process that correlates with that goal. What’s flawed in it? Can you fix it? Does it need to be completely revamped and overhauled?
What I find helpful is to whiteboard out the entire process. Some use a tool like LucidChart to work out the flow. (Which I’ve been enjoying myself lately.)
By working it out by hand and seeing the decision trees and flow of the entire process from a high level, you’ll immediately be able to identify what the stumbling blocks are.
In the case of the sales process, if your website isn’t providing enough information about you and your services, then you have some action items to take on to improve that.
If you are spending time onboarding clients, then work out all the emails and communications needed to successfully educate a brand new client. Then put in place a campaign in your email system to handle that.
By the way, if you need help with that, I have the exact email templates you can use.
You’ve got your goal, now define the process that will help you achieve that goal. Then go ahead and see if you can optimize or systemize that process to save you time moving forward.
5. Write your plan down and take action
The reality is that most will never take action on their goals. Why is that? Well, it is easy to fall back into habits or to only work on things that you know will bring in revenue to keep the lights on.
Are you one of those freelancers that talk about their goals in December but in 6 months find yourself back in the grind and not striving towards your dreams?
I’ve been there. I know how hard it is to take action and work on the business instead of in the business.
The first thing to do is write your goals down. Put them on the wall, sticky note them to your monitor, or have them on the mirror in the bathroom. Put them in a place where you will always see them.
Having them right in front of you all the time will make sure that they don’t constantly get pushed aside or buried in the back of your head.
Google had this 80/20 rule which basically is that the workers work on Google project 80% of the time and then work on their own projects 20% of the time.
The next thing to do is take this idea and tweak it a little bit.
Every single week, work on 80% client work and then 20% your business.
So if you are working 8 hours a day, that means that for 1.5 hours a day you work on something that will move the needle forward in your business.
If you work better in scheduling out days, dedicate one day per week where you just work on your business, the other 4 are all for your clients.
This will allow you to inch closer and closer to reaching your goals for the year.
Don’t be lazy and you won’t work for the man
I know you aren’t lazy, otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
You wouldn’t be running your own business. (Yes, as a freelancer you are a business owner.)
Set your goals, then spend the holidays with friends and family. Once January lands, it’s time to put your plan into action to reach those goals.
By thinking bigger and allowing you to push yourself, remaining focused with a fantastic support system around you, and then by writing down and taking action to improve your processes to reach those goals, I know you can hit them.
Go ahead, leave your goals here in the comments, I’d love to be able to have you revisit them next year and see how you exceeded them.