5 Surprising Questions to Ask Before You Set Next Year’s Goals

goal2Setting goals is an important part of running a successful freelance business. Right now, because we are at the end of the year, many freelancers are starting to think about their goals for next year.

In general, setting goals is a good thing. Goals are standards that can help us measure our achievements. If your freelance business operates on a fiscal year, now is a great time to look at your goals.

However, it’s also best to approach goal-setting cautiously and carefully if your business is to truly get some value from the experience.

In this post, we’ll examine some questions that every freelancer should ask themselves before they set their next year’s goals.

Setting Goals Shouldn’t Just Be About Numbers

A mistake that many businesses make when setting goals is to base them totally on numbers. Some examples of some number-based goals might include:

  • Increase revenue by 15%
  • Engage three new clients
  • Spend $500 on upgrading web design
  • Save 10% of gross income

You’ve probably already seen some lists of goals that look very much like this.
These goals aren’t terrible. In fact, you may already be thinking about some very similar goals for your own freelance business.

Before You Set Those Goals…

While the numbers-based goals aren’t completely bad or wrong (and there’s definitely room for these types of goals in any freelancer’s business plan), there should be a bit more to goal setting than just numbers.

So, you’ve got your pencil and paper handy. You might even think you already know what next year’s goals should be (and you might). Or, next year’s goals may be something that is still somewhere on your To Do list.

Whatever the case, I say be careful. Before you finalize your goals for next year take a look at the questions below and give them some serious thought.

Here five questions that you may not have thought of to ask yourself before setting your goals:

  1. Am I doing the type of work that I really want to be doing? If you answered “yes” to this question, you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. However, if you answered “no,” then you have some work to do. You need to find out exactly what is keeping you from the work that you would really like to be doing. If it’s a lack of education or training, then getting that training should be one of your goals. If it’s your marketing efforts, then changing your marketing should be a goal.
  2. Which projects did I struggle with the most, and why? You can learn a tremendous amount from projects that didn’t go very well. Much of what you learn can be incorporated into your goals for the coming year. Make a list of what you think went wrong with the project. Was the client communication poor or lacking? If so, better client communication can become one of your goals. Was the service and/or product that your provided excellent? If not, better output should become a goal.
  3. Did I lose any customers last year? If so, it may be worth your time and effort to find out why a customer left. We are in the midst of a recession, so it is possible that some clients simply can’t afford your services anymore — but don’t automatically assume that this is the case with every client that you lost over the past year. If you do discover that a client had a problem with your services, look at my suggestions for the second question and follow the steps listed there.
  4. Did I gain any customers last year? New customers can be a sign that you are doing something right. Try to find out what that something is so that you can repeat it. This will probably mean that you will need to contact your customers and ask them some questions. However, you may be able to trace your new customers to other factors such as increased involvement in social media. Whatever you discover should be something that you consider when you set your goals.
  5. Am I comfortable with my typical workload? If you’re getting too many, or too few projects, something in your business may need to be adjusted. If you’re getting too many projects all at the same time so that it seems like you never have any free time, then you may need to improve your negotiating skills (or simply, learn how to say “no” more often). If you don’t have enough work to keep you busy, your marketing methods may not be adequate. Either way, you can set a goal for next year to improve.

I hope that this list of questions has led to some serious thought on your part. Most of all, I hope that it has helped you to develop more effective goals for the coming year.

What Are Your Goals?

Have you set your goals for next year yet?

If you have, why not share a few of them in the comments?

Image by emeryjl