Dear Design Doctor
With 2017 around the corner I really want to make the most of the New Year. I need to earn more from my knitwear, and I know that I can do a lot better if I would get my act together, and stay on track with my goals, but there is always so much to do! I want to get more professional, and really develop my brand, marketing and get more sales next year. But where do I start? And how will I stay on track? I’m excited in January, but give up before the month is over.
Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust, answered this question as The Design Doctor in Crafts Magazine November/December 2016 (page 28) where it was titled ‘Achieving your New Year resolutions’:
‘The New Year is often a natural time to reflect on the previous year, and to plan ahead. It’s also quieter in your business (hopefully after a good Christmas sales period!) so it’s the perfect time to work ON your business.
Firstly I want to ask: ‘What do you really want to achieve in 2017? What are your specific goals for your work, marketing and finance? What do you mean exactly with ‘get more professional’? How will your brand look like in a year from now?’
The better you know what you want to achieve, the easier it is to get there!
Then I’ll ask you: ‘WHY do you want to achieve that income? WHY do you want to work on your branding?’
I often repeat that ‘why’ question over and over again! It might sound a bit irritating but the deeper you go with why you want something, the better.
You might want to be more professional so that you’ll get a better profile, and attract higher end clients, or you might want to be more organised and be less stressed. Both are perfectly good examples of ‘being professional’ but discovering your deeper motivations and values behind what you want will lead to very different approaches to achieve your interpretation of ‘being professional’.
I would keep digging to ensure that this is a really juicy goal for you to get excited about.
Also we can then brainstorm alternative ways for you to get what you really want; attracting those higher-end clients or becoming more organised and less stressed.
Then it’s time to get really specific and create so called SMART goals [Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound].
Specifically state what turnover and salary you want by the end of 2017; where your sales would come from; what marketing plans you have to achieve those financial goals; and create a specific list of all the improvements you want for your brand.
Many creatives have far too many ideas, and not surprisingly then feel overwhelmed.
In my experience you can only copy with about 3 big juicy goals a year, so you’ll need to decide which 3 goals you want to concentrate on.
And then, when you have got a really clear idea of what you want, I will quiz you about what impact achieving those 3 goals would have on you, your business and family. Both in a positive way, and a negative way! How would you feel if you accomplished your goals? What are your worries, and the challenges ahead?
We could even do a pre-mortem. This is a very useful risk-assessing exercise, where you write down all the things that could go wrong with your 3 plans. It’s the opposite of a post-mortem when the patient has died. In this case you need to imagine that your plans have utterly flopped and gone completely wrong (sometimes egging it on can really work here!). Write down all your worries and challenges. When you have written them all down, start brainstorming by yourself or with the help of others your solutions, what research you need to do, what you need to learn, do and create to achieve your goals.
This is a great exercise to get really clear about the risks involved, but also to get more insight about your worries and fears (often the main cause of stopping yourself before you have even started!)
Then we’ll take a step back and I’ll ask you what impact it would have on you, your business and family if you would NOT be allowed or wouldn’t accomplish any of your plans. This can often really fire you on, and again give you great insight in your true motivation to wanting to achieve your goals.
Then it’s time to plan your year out on a big piece of paper, starting with the end goal for the year.
Working backwards from your end goal, identify what you would need to do each quarter or month.
When are your best sales periods?
When are the shows you want to do?
Prioritise and identify specific activities to get more sales, improve your brand, or those deeper motivations of more control or more high-end sales. Map out your year, and use that as your road map. I encourage you to hang that in your studio as a daily reminder.
Make sure that you make time to work ON your business. Can you add it to your existing workload or do you need to free up your Fridays to make these changes? You need to decide.
You are only human, and most people need some accountability when they are making changes, as it’s not easy to stay on track. You could work with your partner, a good friend or colleague to discuss each month your progress, identify what works for you, and what needs more work.
Imagine what it will feel like at the end of 2017. You might not achieve everything you wish for now, but you will have learnt, and come closer to what you really want. For real, this time.’
Want my help with staying on track & setting your business goals?
As a creative business adviser and coach I know how hard it is to stick to your goals and to stay on track! Therefore I created Dream Plan Do, a monthly planner for creative product businesses to help you work on ALL ASPECTS of your business, month-by-month.
Each month you will get creative exercises, thought-provoking questions and tools to help you create a better business.
You can purchase our Dream Plan Do planner now on www.dream-plan-do.com/shop/