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Do you set goals for your design business?In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I'm talking about setting goals for your graphic design business. I'm not talking about resolutions. I know it’s January when I'm releasing this episode, the time of year for setting resolutions, and that’s all fine. But what I’m talking about are goals. Whereas resolutions are more ongoing, like becoming a better illustrator or improving your coding skills. Goals, on the other hand, have a set target to achieve.
For the full discussion be sure to listen to the podcast.
When is a good time for setting goals?
How about right now? I'm not saying this because it's January, the time of year many people are setting goals. What I'm saying is now, no matter when now happens to be, is a great time for setting goals. In fact, you should be setting goals for your business on a regular basis. How else are you going to measure your progress going forward?
Why is setting goals important?
Setting goals is one of the most important things you can do to stay on track and prosper. Goals keep you motivated, they give you focus, they give you direction, and they hold you accountable. Without goals, it's much harder to measure progress.
How to go about setting goals.
Have you heard the term S.M.A.R.T. goals? Much of what I'm discussing here is based on that concept. However, I'm taking it one step further and making it S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. Which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Related, Evaluate, and Reward (or Repeat if you like that one better.) Here's how it works.
Your goals need to be precise, if not you won't be able to focus your efforts to achieve the goal. When making your goal, try to answer these questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who if anyone is involved?
- Which resources are required to complete the goal?
Example of a Specific goal: I want to complete three new website redesign projects over the next three months. This goal is very specific. You know exactly what needs to be accomplished in order to reach it.
If your goal isn’t measurable how are you going to track your progress? Knowing your progress is essential in motivating you to do well. It can also set a fire under you if you realize you're not doing well. Assessing your progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and in the process, you’ll feel the excitement as you get closer to achieving your goal. A measurable goal should address questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How Long?
- How will I know when it's accomplished?
Example of a Measurable goal: I want to design15 brand new websites this year. This goal is measurable. you simply need to count the number of websites completed to know how you're doing.
The goal you set for yourself needs to be realistic and attainable in order to be successful. In other words, it should be something that makes you stretch your abilities but still remains possible.
An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal?
Example of an Achievable goal: I want to help create brands for three new startups this year. Over the course of 12 months, it's not inconceivable that you could brand three new startups. It's an achievable goal. Wanting to brand 50 new startups would be very difficult to achieve and therefore isn't a good goal.
This step is all about making sure your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals you’ve set for your design business. It's important that your goal strengthens your business.
A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match my other needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Is it applicable to my current business?
Example of a Relevant goal: I want to master the newest features in Photoshop. This is a relevant goal for a graphic designer who works a lot in Photoshop. On the other hand, learning a new coding language such as PHP might not be a relevant goal if you're business doesn't focus on web design.
All goals need some sort of targeted end time. Without one, you have no deadline to keep you focused and something to work toward. This is the most important part of setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. Without and end time to keep you in check, you may come down with the “I’ll do it tomorrow” syndrome. Wether you’re a procrastinator or not, you need a way to track your goals against a deadline if you want to achieve them.
A time-related goal will usually answer these questions:
- When do I need to work on things to achieve this goal?
- What do I need to do now, six weeks from now, six months from now?
- What can I do today?
Example of a Time-Related goal: I want to create a new marketing brochure to hand out at the upcoming Trade show. This is a time-related goal because there is a fixed time you need to complete it by.
This is where we add on to S.M.A.R.T. goals. As you progress towards accomplishing your goals, you need to stop from time to time to evaluate the progress you've made so far. Evaluating where you stand in relation to your goals reveals whether or not you’re still on track to achieve them.
While evaluating your goals you should ask these questions:
- Do I need to adjust anything about my goal to ensure success?
- Is there anything I can change or do differently to reach my goal?
Example of Evaluating your goal: You forgot when you set your two-month goal that you would be taking a vacation during that time. Can you adjust to goal to accommodate your time away? Or is there anything you can do differently to achieve your goal knowing you have two fewer weeks to work on it? Evaluating your goals on a regular basis is crucial to ensuring their success.
Achieving or completing your goal should be a reward in itself. However, depending on the scope of the goal it may help motivate you if you set a special reward for getting there. After all, don’t you deserve something more than a simple pat on the back for your hard effort? A special reward can be a great motivator in helping you achieve your goal.
Ask yourself these questions while choosing a suitable reward.
- Is the reward realistic if I accomplish my goal?
- Is the reward enough of a motivator to help me achieve my goal?
Example of a motivating reward: If I increase my profits by 15% this year I will take my family on a tropical vacation. This is a very motivating reward. Especially if you share it with your family. Afterall, you don't want to let them down, do you?
REPEAT (instead of, or on top of a Reward)
If you succeeded in reaching your goal, why not try again with either the same goal or a harder one? Did you succeed in gaining three new clients this month? Then why not try for four next month?
If you failed to achieve your goal, reassess, regroup and restart. There is no shame in not reaching your goal. Only in giving up on it. Reassess your S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals and make any needed adjustments to help you succeed the second time around.
After all, as Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
What goals have you set for your graphic design business?
Let me know your goals by leaving a comment for this episode.
Questions of the Week
Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.
This week’s question comes from Jordan
Should I charge a different rate for my web design compared to my graphic design?
To find out what I told Jordan you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
Resource of the week Free, Fee or Flee?
This week's resource is a website put out by RGD called Free, Fee or Flee? http://freefeeflee.ca This is a website to help you decide whenever you are asked to do some work for free. Should you agree? Should you be charging? Or should you be walking, or even running away? This fun website will guide you through various questions to help you make a decision. They also provide you with suggestions of how to respond to help explain where you stand.
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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org