As Lara Casey says, there is nothing magical about January 1st. Sitting down and evaluating how your business could be more fulfilling, or how your LIFE itself could be more fulfilling should not be restricted to just one day of the year. But it IS the time of year where things slow down just a tad, and I am wanting to get my STUFF together and feel like I am entering a new year with a plan in hand. Fall is SUCH a crazy time of year for photographers, that I think this idea of goal setting in January is more of an effort to feel present and in control- because the last few months may have felt anything but!
So this week I have been looking into the tools and resources that I want to have that will really help me plan my business year, and make goals that bring me closer to owning a business that serves my life, and not a life that serves my business. I have learned over the years that a tool or a system is only as good as the amount you actually use it. So I was intentional about not making any impulse buys this fall as new planners released, or goal setting products launched. I wanted to make sure I was purchasing something that would truly help me, not just because everyone else was instagramming it. Ever been there?
Today I am going to share what I have been planning and purchasing, so that when I come back from Christmas vacation with my family, I have all the tools that I need to dive right in. And let’s face it, I don’t get to go school supply shopping anymore, so this is like the closest thing I get. New pens and blank notebooks make me oh so HAPPY.
First up, I needed a planner. Now, this year I started using Trello, and if you have not yet checked out this online todo system I highly recommend that you do so. First of all it’s FREE, and it’s a system I use both on my computer and my phone. There are so many ways to use it. I have a board that serves as a big running todo list- where I quickly type things in from my desk or at the grocery store- wherever I may be, and have the peace of mind that it won’t get lost like it could on a sticky note.
I also use Trello for group todo organization, like for planning The Fount Collective workshop with my creative team, or communicating project todo’s with my intern. But I have found that I not only still desire to have a written daily todo list, I also like a visual of how I will tackle the week. Sometimes that running todo list is just SO overwhelming, that I feel more in control if I could take the top tasks by priority and assign them to a day of the week. This helps me feel accomplished when I get the day’s work done, and confident that I will complete ALL THE OTHER THINGS.
There are so many great planners out there these days. I was browsing mostly The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley, this One Canoe Two Planner, and The Day Designer by Whitney English. All of which had things that I really loved, and they were all worth considering for me. A frequent client of mine and I were chatting about them earlier this week, and she said she was totally loving her Mini Day Designer, and not only did I end up choosing that one ( I really liked that it would fit in my purse on the go! ) but she surprised me and gifted it to me! I really have the world’s BEST clients ever.
Next on my list were goal setting worksheets. I have in the past used Lara Casey’s Powersheets, and I am such a fan! But particularly more so this year because she is offering them not only in her usual 6 month set for a three ring binder, but she has an entire YEAR workbook that is spiral bound. I LOVE that this structure lets me brainstorm on my couch, curled up in my favorite chair, or more easily in a coffee shop…it’s just way easier than writing in a binder for me.
To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the Powersheets when I first ordered them. I really don’t like bright colors. I don’t really like crazy sparkly things. Choosing a blush and gold planner this year is like…pretty wild for me. My thoughts as I landed on the first questions were, I don’t want to talk about my feelings. I want to set goals…I want to feel productive and make stuff happen RIGHT NOW!! But what I have learned from Lara and the Making Things Happen team is the power of sitting down and asking yourself how you really feel in that moment, and how that simple action of writing down that vulnerable, transparent, even-if-it’s-ugly, honesty with yourself- just doing that alone- can be a catalyst for creating a business that better serves your life. Asking yourself questions like what she has structured out in these worksheets gives you insight on what is fulfilling you in your business and what isn’t, where that overwhelming pressure or stress is rooted, and WHY your goals are even your goals in the first place.
Just trust me. They work. I am so excited to get my hands on them and have vowed to be entirely all in and 100% committed to getting my hands dirty, making scribbles, being messy, and just being incredibly honest with myself about my business AND my personal life and what I want it to look like a year from now.
Last week I wrote a post on the importance of taking time to think like a CEO in your business. To not just focus on the fun, creative side all the time, but to check in and ask yourself the hard questions to make sure your goals are being achieved, and your business is growing in a way that is fulfilling to you and it’s mission. It can be so hard to evaluate growth and move your business forward if you spend all your time just maintaining what you have.
I wrote about this idea of setting aside a meeting with yourself once a month, and ask yourself questions that a CEO would if they were on the outside looking in. A CEO would ask the hard questions. The growth questions. The questions that ultimately really matter if you want your business to do better next week, next month, or next year. The questions that when you’re spending all your time maintaining your business, you often never even take the time to think about! This is especially important for people like myself who have no other official accountability. Being the only person who looks at my business on a daily basis, means that if I am ignoring these important questions about my profit margins, my booking rates, and my referral sources- then no one is!
I promised in that post that I would create a simple worksheet that would ask some of these important questions that would be easy to print out, take to a coffee shop, and answer some business specific questions, including:
What was your gross profit this month? What was your goal?
How many inquiries did you receive this month? How many of those inquiries turned into bookings? What was your booking goal this month? Did you meet that?
What worked well this month? What could have gone better this month?
What are three business specific goals for next month? How are you going to get there, what’s your action step?
I’m not a professional designer by any means, but you’re welcome to download these two worksheets for free! If you like them, you can print them out once a month, put them in a binder, or even take them to an office store and have them spiral bound.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE WORKSHEETS HERE
I’ll be talking a lot more about goal setting and a look at what has been working, and what I want to do better in 2016, so if you enjoy reading posts like this one be sure to stick around!