Whether you set new year’s resolutions in your personal life or not, setting goals in self-employment is definitely something worth doing. Goals can give you a roadmap of where you want your business to go. When we have an idea of where we’re going, we can make decisions that help us get there.
Here are five goal ideas for the self-employed. They’re broad, but the aim is for you to take their overarching angle and tailor them to your specific business and personal aspirations.
Every business owner wants more cash — right?! Wanting to make more money in the year ahead is a common goal, but rarely do we approach it correctly. Instead of plucking a random number that sounds kinda sexy and deciding that that’s your goal, we can be more strategic.
We need to be looking at where our money is coming from, where it’s going, and what’s left over. Increasing revenue doesn’t necessarily mean increasing profit. Play with different revenue goals and break down how you’d achieve that based on where your revenue comes from, and don’t forget to factor in additional costs of earning that revenue!
Marketing is critical to almost every business, and you can set goals around the amount of reach and visibility you and your business get. If you’re wanting to juice up your leads, increase your connections, or position yourself as an authority in a certain field, work up a goal to help you get yourself out there.
You could consider going to networking events, posting on social media a certain number of times per week, running a free masterclass each quarter, or collaborating with others in your industry. These types of goals can go hand in hand with revenue goals, too. The more people that see your business, the more chances you have to make money!
Reflecting on how you spend your time in your business can be a great launchpad for goal setting. For a few days, track what you’re doing during your work day, and be as granular as you can. How much admin are you doing? How long are you spending on emails? How often do you lose time to a clunky system or process?
Making improvements to your efficiency and productivity by introducing new systems, processes, or ways of working can free up your time to — you guessed it — make more money!
Economic volatility can be scary when you’re self-employed, so a great goal to work on is diversifying how your business makes money.
How much flexibility do you have in the way you set out to bring in revenue? Could you explore a new service offering to meet a new branch of demand? What does your ideal client or customer need right now — can you respond to that in a new way?
How long could your business survive if your revenue dropped? How reliant are you on your key clients to keep the lights on? A great goal to have, particularly during economic uncertainty, is to increase the business’ resilience and build up a longer ‘runway’. This means the amount of cash reserves you have available in the business to cover slower income periods or to reinvest back into the business in order to seize an opportunity.
Building up your business savings by either increasing revenue or cutting costs can help your business’ longevity and make life easier for you as a business owner. Sometimes it’s just a case of putting yourself on a bit of a spending pause for a quarter or two. Cutting back on expensive events, retreats, courses, programs, or even office space can free up some easy money to go toward your business’ stability.
If you’re thinking, “Um, I kinda need to achieve ALL of those things!”, don’t stress. Business can feel overwhelming sometimes, especially when it feels like we need to be doing everything all at once.
Deciding which goals to focus on comes from reflection and analysis of where you’re at — so spend some quality time with your business. Write out an overview of what happened each month of 2023. What were the highs, and what were the lows? What’s going well in your business? What’s not going so well? What are you great at? What do you wish you could do less of?
Doing an end-of-year SWOT analysis can help you establish your next steps for 2024. It prompts you to explore your business’ strengths and weaknesses (which are internal) and its opportunities and threats (which are external).
Look at ways you can work to your strengths, seize opportunities, bolster your weaknesses, and mitigate threats, and you’ll start to see a pathway unfolding.
Emma Edwards is a finance copywriter and blogger, on a mission to humanize the financial services industry by creating meaningful content that’s accessible and empowering. You’ll find her penning money tips at her blog, The Broke Generation, sharing financial insights on Instagram, or injecting life into content for her business clients.