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Set Efficient Targets for Your Freelance Enterprise

In the event you’ve ever labored for a corporation, giant or small, you’ve in all probability seen that goal-setting is one thing they take very significantly. Many corporations dedicate giant quantities of time to setting objectives and aims for the 12 months—not only for the corporate general, however for every division inside it, and for every worker inside every division—after which measuring progress in direction of these objectives on the finish of the 12 months.

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Learn to set objectives in your freelance enterprise. Picture supply: Envato Components

But, in my expertise, most freelancers don’t are likely to dedicate almost as a lot power to setting objectives and aims. We declare to consider what we do as a enterprise, however usually we have no plan aside from “get extra purchasers”.

So this tutorial is aimed toward exhibiting you why it’s essential set clear, efficient objectives in your freelance enterprise, and easy methods to go about doing so. I’ll begin by inspecting the advantages of setting your self clear aims, after which take you thru the sensible steps of deciding in your priorities, establishing well-defined objectives, and monitoring your progress.

Firms perceive that clear aims are a crucial element of attaining better success, progress and earnings. By the top of this tutorial, you’ll perceive that too, and may have a transparent concept of how one can transfer ahead with aims that provide help to take your corporation to the subsequent stage.

1. Why a Freelancer Wants Clear Targets

Though I used the instance of corporations setting objectives, your state of affairs as a freelancer shouldn’t be fully comparable. A big firm might need hundreds of workers scattered all around the globe, and it must set clear objectives as a approach of constructing certain everyone seems to be pulling in the suitable path.

As a freelancer, it’s simply you, and also you already know what it’s essential do. So that you don’t want objectives, proper?


It’s straightforward to suppose that since you’re a one-person store, you don’t must undergo a proper technique of setting aims. However in truth, you want them simply as a lot as Citigroup or GE. Right here’s why.

Targets Assist You Develop

As a freelancer, it may be very arduous to develop past a sure level. There are solely so many hours in every week, and when you’re totally booked with work, it’s straightforward to fall into the behavior of simply working away, assembly the deadlines and accepting that you just’ve reached a “ceiling” when it comes to earnings. In different phrases, you’re working arduous simply to face nonetheless.

For some individuals, that may be OK. In the event you love what you do, and are proud of the sum of money you’re making, then you’ll be able to simply preserve going as you’re.

However the technique of setting objectives might reveal different needs, like boosting your financial savings or having extra time to spend with your loved ones. If that’s the case, then the established order received’t lower it. You’ll have to attain progress.

There are a lot of methods to attain this, after all, resembling:

  • creating eBooks, movies or lessons that you just promote out of your web site, giving your self an earnings that’s not tied to the hours you place in
  • elevating your charges
  • transferring to an company mannequin, the place you farm a few of the work out to different individuals as a substitute of doing the whole lot your self
  • providing new, higher-value companies

There are a lot of different potentialities, after all, relying on the enterprise you’re in. The purpose is that with a purpose to develop, it’s essential suppose strategically and alter the best way you’re working, which is one thing you’ll in all probability by no means even consider until you’ve taken the time to set objectives and priorities.

Setting Targets Forces You to Step Again

As a freelancer, you get to set your individual agenda. You don’t have a boss telling you what to work on every day—as a substitute, you resolve for your self.

Not less than, that’s the idealized view of the freelance life. In actuality, the best way you spend your day remains to be largely decided by different individuals—it’s simply that, as a substitute of the boss, it’s your purchasers. It’s important to meet that pressing deadline for one consumer, and reply these emails from one other one, and request a clearer temporary from that company that by no means appears to know what it desires.

Your day is full, and you’re busy working… however are you engaged on the suitable issues?

There are two measures of significance, in spite of everything: urgency and affect. The hazard for freelancers is that you find yourself at all times engaged on essentially the most pressing stuff, neglecting issues that will have a better affect on your corporation, however don’t have a deadline hooked up.

That’s why so many net designers by no means get round to updating their web sites, why photographers usually make do with a headshot they’ve by no means been proud of. They know this stuff are essential, however they’re too busy with all of the issues which can be extra pressing.

Setting objectives forces you to step again and resolve on what’s actually essential for your corporation, as a way to ensure you’re engaged on the proper issues, not simply essentially the most pressing.

Targets Preserve You Accountable

Setting objectives is one factor, however monitoring them is much more essential. In the event you take the method significantly, you’ll have a continuing every day reminder of what you have to be engaged on, and the way it matches in with the larger image.

I’ll speak extra about accountability and easy methods to keep on observe in a while, however for now simply perceive that it’s a robust good thing about goal-setting, serving to you get motivated to attain greater than you probably did earlier than.  

2. Deciding on Your Priorities

So how do you set efficient objectives?

It begins with deciding in your priorities. Priorities should not the identical as objectives: whereas objectives are particular, focused aims, priorities are the broader needs to which you’re aspiring.

What’s actually essential to you in life? What sort of life and profession would you wish to have? What are an important stuff you need to obtain? These are the form of large questions that it’s essential reply earlier than you’ll be able to start setting objectives.

There are a lot of methods of doing this, however my favourite is to image myself at numerous factors sooner or later:

  • a 12 months from now
  • 5 years from now
  • ten years from now
  • on the finish of my life

Once I say “image myself”, I actually do imply that. I’ll really describe a typical day in my desired future life: the home I’m dwelling in, what I do, who’s with me, what the scene appears like. I discover that helps me to get actually clear. In the event you’re visually inclined, you may like to attract the scene, or paint it, or create a collage utilizing pictures you’ve grabbed from the net.

Attempt to cowl not simply work, however all features of your life. The purpose of your work is to help your life, in spite of everything, and the concept is to resolve on what’s actually essential to you. So think about not simply work achievements, but in addition issues like way of life and relationship objectives. It could assist to current the knowledge in a spider chart or “life wheel” as follows, score your satisfaction in every space and aiming for a full, balanced wheel.

Life wheel showing balance in each area of lifeLife wheel showing balance in each area of lifeLife wheel showing balance in each area of life
Chart courtesy of Paul Laherty

3. Forming Clear Targets

Now that we’re clear on the massive image, let’s get extra particular. Take a look at the priorities you’ve set, and begin breaking down what it’s essential do to get your corporation to the specified state.

Begin with long-term objectives: what do you need to obtain in your corporation within the subsequent 5 years? The objectives needs to be impressed by your imaginative and prescient in your life as a complete, however needs to be particular to your freelance enterprise. Which new companies do you need to begin providing? Do you need to elevate your charges to a sure stage, or scale back your hours to a sure level?

Take into account the well-known acronym SMART, making certain that your objectives are:

  • particular
  • measurable
  • achievable
  • life like
  • time-bound

I will not spend a lot time on this, as a result of it is fairly well-known. However as a fast instance, “make more cash” shouldn’t be a SMART objective. However “improve after-tax earnings by 25% by December 2023” ticks all of the bins.

If you’ve bought your long-term objectives labored out, start working backwards, getting nearer and nearer to the current day. What do it’s essential obtain within the subsequent 12 months to set your self up for assembly your five-year objectives? Then break your one-year objectives out month by month, in order that you recognize precisely what it’s a must to do every month to succeed in your year-end objectives.

Then you’ll be able to break your month-to-month objectives down into weekly objectives, and your weekly objectives down into every day objectives. That approach, you’ll be able to ensure that what you’re doing as we speak is feeding into your long-term objectives, and transferring you nearer to the life you need.

After all your every day objectives may also embrace the “pressing” stuff—the deadlines, the emails, the invoices, and different issues that simply have to be executed. However attempt to make it possible for every day additionally consists of a while for the objectives which can be pushed by your longer-term planning course of.

One different key level about objectives is that the nearer you get to the current day, the extra your objectives ought to solely embrace outcomes which you can personally management. For longer-term objectives, it’s OK to incorporate some issues that you just need to obtain, even in the event you’re not completely certain easy methods to do it. However for shorter-term objectives like month-to-month or weekly objectives, it ought to solely be issues which you can management.

The “elevated earnings” objective I discussed earlier is sweet for a long-term objective, for instance. However for a month-to-month objective, you’re higher off going for one thing like “Pitch 5 new purchasers, quoting larger charges than I’m presently charging.” That may contribute to growing your earnings, and is completely below your management. Whether or not you really get the enterprise is right down to the purchasers themselves, so don’t make your short-term objectives depending on the actions and choices of others.

And at last, your objectives ought to excite you. Too usually, our days are pushed by activity lists which can be extra about obligation than need. By deciding in your deepest life priorities, setting bold long-term objectives, and tying your shorter-term objectives to them, you make sure that even when what you’re doing proper now isn’t that thrilling, you’ve linked it to one thing larger, a imaginative and prescient of the form of life that you really want. That helps generate some enthusiasm, a key ingredient for getting issues executed.

4. Retaining Monitor

This part will likely be fairly quick, as a result of there are such a lot of other ways of protecting observe of your objectives, and it doesn’t actually matter which one you utilize. The one essential factor is that you just do it, and do it often.

For instance, I preserve observe of my objectives in a easy, old school pocket book. I just like the ritual of writing all of it out, and spending time with the pc switched off and my thoughts centered on what I’m attempting to attain. I make time each Sunday (or Monday morning if I can’t be bothered on Sunday) to look over my objectives from final week, test my progress, learn over my longer-term objectives, and set aims for the week forward. Then I sort my every day duties into the Momentum app in Chrome, in order that I see them each time I open a brand new tab.

However in the event you desire, there are numerous apps and applications and templates that you would use, resembling GoalsOnTrack,, Lifetick, or easy to-do lists and activity administration apps.

What issues is that you just decide a way, arrange a daily schedule, and decide to updating your objectives often. Bear in mind the “R” in “SMART” notably, to make sure that you don’t overcommit, and that you just’re compassionate with your self in the event you miss a objective, as will at all times occur. Life is unpredictable, so your objectives needs to be adaptable. The purpose is to maneuver you in the suitable path, to not beat your self up in the event you fail.

In the event you’re actually struggling to remain on observe, you would think about discovering an accountability associate, somebody you name or e-mail often to decide to your objectives and report in your progress.

Or arrange rewards for your self, maybe promising your self that in the event you meet your objective, you’ll reward your self with one thing you get pleasure from—a meal out, maybe, or an exorbitant bottle of wine, and even only a day without work. No matter you’ll be able to afford, and no matter will encourage you to get the job executed. Bribery works.

Subsequent Steps

You could have seen that it’s not January. Most goal-setting and planning articles get written in January, to coincide with individuals’s temporary bursts of hope within the wake of New 12 months’s resolutions. And most of these grand objectives and plans get forgotten by Valentine’s Day.

I’m penning this in the course of the 12 months as a result of I need you to consider goal-setting another way. I need you to disconnect from the New 12 months’s flurry of diets and gymnasium memberships, and consider it as a substitute as a enterprise exercise, one thing it’s essential do for the well being of your freelance enterprise. And consider it as a long-term exercise, one thing you’ll preserve doing week after week, month after month, 12 months after 12 months.

In the event you do it proper, setting and monitoring your objectives received’t take up a lot of your time—in truth it is going to release time for you. It’s going to preserve you centered on the really essential issues in your life and in your corporation, making certain that you just’re spending time on duties that may transfer your corporation ahead and provide help to obtain success in what really issues to you. So get began as we speak! 

Editorial Be aware: This content material was initially revealed in 2015. We’re sharing it once more as a result of our editors have decided that this data remains to be correct and related.



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