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At the end of every year, there is pressure to make New Year’s resolutions, and, more often than not, a few weeks later, they are lost in the shuffle and you are left feeling disappointed. A resolution is a firm decision to do or to not do something. And while they often start with strong intentions, the very vague nature of them tends to make them very difficult to maintain. 

What if you took this year as an opportunity to change the narrative? Why not use this time to set goals you want to achieve this year and how you will get there? Setting goals instead of resolutions is a way more inspiring and actionable way to make changes in the new year.

Instead of Resolutions, Set Goals. 

Goals provide you with direction to achieve desired outcomes. Creating goals involves intention setting, planning, preparing, and taking action. Lets break it down!

How do I know what goals to set for the New Year?

A staged scene with a succulent, binder clips, a up of coffee notepad and hand. The note pad says "Time to set goals"

Determining where to begin can be the hardest step for setting your new goals. It is easier to break challenges into pillars or categories. It feels less overwhelming to place goals or improvements in a specific area. 

Break your goals into three areas: Professional, Personal, and Financial

These three pillars can lay the framework for an efficient goal-setting process and, in the long run, a happier you with a more straightforward path to success in your business. Make sure you don’t have a laundry list of goals under each; try to pick between 3-5 in each area.

#1Professional Goals

For your professional goal setting, focus on what you want to achieve with your business. It helps to ask yourself the following questions:

How do you grow your business in the next year? 

  • What should you focus on to achieve growth? Some ideas to start with might be...
  • Stay current with industry trends and continuously develop your skills.
  • Attend workshops, online courses, and networking events to expand your knowledge and stay ahead of the curve.
  • Embrace innovation in both your photography techniques and business practices. Explore new technologies, software, or styles that can set you apart and attract a broader audience.

Are you attracting your dream clients?

  • Do you need to define your ideal clients? 
  • Review your existing marketing materials. Do you have a marketing plan?
  • Define how you will get clients for the coming year. 
  • Are there local businesses you want to partner with?
  • What social media channels are working for you or could they be improved? 
  • Do you have an email marketing campaign? 
  • Are there overwhelming areas that you can get help with by outsourcing or software to help you?  
  • Does your website reflect your current work? 
  • What does your SEO look like? How are you ranking in local search engines

Review your workflow and processes.

Review your client touch points (beyond the marketing). 

  • How are you responding to client inquiries? 
  • Is your booking process clear
  • Do you have clear contracts and communication with clients?  
  • How are you prepping your clients for a successful shoot
  • What is the client experience like on the shoot and beyond? 
  • How do your clients receive their images? 
  • What is your product offering to your clients? 
  • Most importantly, are you surprising and delighting your clients at each of these touch points? 

#2Personal Goals

This should be one of the first things you evaluate as you move into the new year. Running a service-based small business will undoubtedly impact your personal life. If you don’t make a plan and set up goals, guidelines, and boundaries, this can leave you feeling stressed, overworked, and exhausted. Here are some areas to evaluate to make sure that your personal life doesn’t get overwhelmed while you are building your business: 

What is my ideal schedule?

  • Do I have defined days off? 
  • How do I commit to that? 
  • Have I achieved that in the past? If not, what will I need to do to get there? 

How will I handle the seasonality of my business? 

  • Am I set up for success during busy times of the year
  • If not, where can I outsource tasks to help me find the balance both in my personal and professional life? This post helps cover this topic in more detail.  

Am I clear on my boundaries? 

  • Specifically, when and how can clients reach you? Be firm on policies like bargaining, tardiness, disrespecting you or your business, including employees etc. 
  • How do you communicate those boundaries? Whether it is via email, contract, or verbal communication, make sure you are clear with your clients.
  • Reflect on where your boundaries have been crossed and make plans to firm up those boundaries this year. 

How are you connecting with your local photography community or other small businesses?

#3Financial Goals

Money, money, money. Yes, it does seem that it makes the world go-‘round, to a certain extent. So, this should be a main priority if you haven’t figured out your pricing, mastered any financial goals, or have a financial system for your business. Here are some questions that can help you define a few goals for the financial side of your business: 

Am I legally set up correctly? 

Are my personal and business financials separated? 

  • Do I have a business bank account? Consider keeping your business and personal finances separate for a few reasons...
  • Financial clarity
  • Professionalism and Credibility
  • Legal and Tax Compliance
Review your income for the year. 

Are you spending deposits before the shoots happen? 

  • Do you have enough of an income balance built up in your account not to have to do that? 
  • Do you have an emergency fund for unexpected expenses or slow times? 

How can I make more money? 

  • If your business is seasonal, can you add in another offering that isn’t seasonal? 
  • Can you increase your products offered? 
  • Can you add an associate to increase revenue?  This can be extremely useful when you find that demand for your business is more than just what you can handle on your own.

Final Thoughts

Coffee cup and napkin that says "Don't make resolutions, create habits"

Asking yourself these questions will help ensure that you have a good sense of what improvements need to be made in your business and what goals to set. Pick 3-5 goals in each area that will make the most impact on your business. Write down how you will achieve these. Set yourself deadlines to attain them. Remember, the goals you set don’t all have to be accomplished at the same time, that’s just not realistic. Just aim to wrap up the year knowing you did your best to set yourself up with success.

New Year, New You. 

New Year, New Goals. 

New Year. New Growth. 

You know your business best and the specific areas that need improvement. Going through this goal-setting evaluation process will help you create a plan of action that will enable you to run your business more effectively so that you can find success- in whichever way you define it- doing something you love.

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