3 Things To Do Before The End Of The Year

One of the benefits of freelancing is: You get to decide for yourself what you will accomplish in any given year. You’re able to set your goals and design your roadmap based on your desires and aspirations.

As a freelance creative you need a roadmap. Winging it in your business is counter-productive to your success. Without a destination and defined route, you won’t move forward. You’ll spin your wheels and drift. 

Acquiring a business mindset includes planning for your finances, obligations, business development, creative growth, and even personal time.. Making a written plan that includes target dates and key performance indicators (KPIs) can make the difference between a year of accomplishments and a year of struggle and frustration.

 

Is annual planning the same as a business plan?

Your business plan is your compass. Your annual plan is an extension of your business plan. Your business plan probably won’t change very often, but your annual plan gets updated every year, based on your performance in the current year.

visioning and planning should be completed by the end of the current year so you can run with it. Take time during Q4 to plan for all 4 quarters of the next year. Note: if you business is structured as an S-Corp, your fiscal year may not be the calendar year. If your fiscal year begins on July 1, you should do your planning in April, May, and June.

 

 

How to design your annual plan

I recommend planning on paper, whether it’s a notepad, sticky notes, or white-board. Then, once things are settled, transfer your goals and dates to whatever digital tool you prefer (or if you’re a paper person, keep it on paper.) Dedicate at least a half day to assess, dream and plan. Here are the 3 aspects of annual planning:

 

 

1. Do a business health check-up

Write down the answers to these questions:

• What types of projects do you want to work on?

• What types of projects did you work on in the current year? 

• What projects did you enjoy most or were most excited about?

• What projects or situations do you never want to do again?

• What are you income sources. Example, client-type, category, type of work such as illustration or design, different revenue streams (ex. clients, print sales, template sales.)

• What are your non-negotiables? Ex: I don’t work on weekends

 

 

2.  Evaluate your finances 

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • How much money did you make? (gross revenue)
    • What were your expenses? 
    • What was your total profit (revenue less expenses) and your profit margin (profits divided by revenue)?
    • If you have this data from previous years, it’s good  to compare. You can identify trends and see quickly what’s not working.
    • Who are your most profitable and least profitable clients?  When calculating your profit per client you consider only those expenses related to serving that client.
    • What’s your gross revenue goal for the coming year?
     

    3. Create your annual plan

    The purpose of annual planning is to help you stay on track toward your destination. In your road map you’ll set your larger goals and break them down into workable objectives.

      • Set your long-term goals for the next twelve months. In my goal-setting webinar I recommend no more than half a dozen large goals in a year.
      • Divide your calendar into quarters — four three-month blocks  — and then assign objectives or benchmarks, which are the steps you’ll take to achieve the larger goals. For example, if your goal is to start a video channel in Q3, what are the things you’ll need to do in Q1 and Q2 in order to launch in Q3?
      • Define your action steps for each quarter to help you meet your medium-term target. So for that video channel, Q1 goals may be to make a content list and production schedule, and plan out your first 4 videos. In Q2 you may be recording and producing those videos, and also planning out the next 4. Then in Q3 you create your video channel and publish your initial 4 videos.
      • Schedule monthly activities and weekly tasks that will take you step-by-step toward your goals.
      • Define what you can afford to spend in the first twelve months and assign your finances according to the plan.
      • Keep your plan on hand to review, check your progress, and revise as you go. There’s no reason to create a road map if you’re not going to use it.

      Your annual plan is a key tool to help measure your progress and accomplishments. 

      Planning is a regular and expected business activity. You’ll accomplish your goals in and around your client work, so the strategies of time blocking and task batching become useful. But it you set aside time at the end of the year to plan, and at least monthly to check in and assess your progress, you’re more likely to have the bandwidth to serve your clients and your goals successfully.

       

      ©Alvalyn Lundgren. All international rights reserved.