It’s important to take advantage of the momentum and sense of purpose we all feel with the approaching New Year.
Many of you have already started laying the groundwork with resolutions for your businesses and personal lives.
However, do you remember going through this process last year? Did you follow through on the plans you made?
If you did, congratulations! If not, you’re certainly not alone.
There are three main reasons why New Year’s plans don’t always succeed:
- We try to take on too much at once
- We focus more on choosing goals than on creating the systems we need to help achieve those goals
- We don’t build in any accountability to see our vision through to reality
We all usually start the year out with the best intentions of staying focused on the big-picture goals of our businesses. However, it’s way too easy to get stuck in head-down mode with our projects unless we have a specific plan in place to do otherwise.
Don’t worry: We’re going to make that plan for you right now.
Start With the First 90 Days
It makes sense that most initial attempts to plan for the new year aim to do just that — plan for the entire year.
However, 12 months is a long time. Trying to plan for the whole year in one sitting usually results in overwhelm. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, your planning efforts might stall completely.
Instead of planning for the whole year, I recommend planning in 90-day increments. Three months is long enough to see real progress on big picture goals, but short enough that planning won’t be too much.
I also encourage designers to start by focusing on their business goals instead of personal ones. We all know that when your business runs more smoothly, the rest of your life tends to follow suit. But also, you’ll find that once you get into the habit of using this 90-day goals framework, personal goals will get much easier to achieve.
Your 90-day plan needs three components.
1. Vision and Values
You can’t achieve something you can’t see, or at least that you can’t visualize. I believe strongly that the process of visualization is an essential first step to making our dreams into our realities.
Look internally and reflect to come up with a vision for the upcoming year. Think big; you’ll get a chance to be more specific later.
Your yearly vision could have to do with refining your style, being happier with your client relationships, or stressing less about the finance side of your business.
You should be able to summarize your vision in a few lines, but if it helps, create a vision board to supplement your vision (designers are particularly visual thinkers, so this can help).
Sample Vision Statements:
- This year, I will redefine my design brand as modern rustic.
- By the end of the year, I want to be confident as a business owner. That means being able to consider the possibility of taking time off work without getting anxious.
- This year, I will to change my job and lifestyle so that I’m making enough money to save for emergencies in addition to paying my bills.
Now that you have your vision in mind, the next step is to quantify it with goals.
Goals are the concrete, measurable manifestations of your vision.
If your vision is a financially healthy businesses, a few goals might be to land a certain number of new clients or bill projects of a certain value each month.
If your vision to approach your work with joy, your goals might be to systematically address the parts of your work that are the most stressful and make them easier.
- Land one new $5K project each month by the 15th for the following month
- Improve invoicing process so that I’m only spending 1 hour each month on accounting
- Update portfolio and website to reflect new brand vision
- Transition from hourly billing to project-based billing
- Make $100/month from a new product line
- Streamline design process so that each project conforms to a 3-week period
You may have heard the phrase “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” Those are wise words, indeed.
You won’t make meaningful progress toward your big-picture goals without scheduling time for those goals on your calendar. And, you need to take that scheduled time as seriously as you do other meetings.
I call this “CEO time.” Designers spend all day getting creative with their projects and implementing their creative goals. CEOs focus on big picture business strategy and growth.
As an interior designer, you’re in charge of both; but, you need to step out of your designer shoes and get into CEO mode at least once a week to make sure you’re making progress on your top-line goals.You’re the CEO of your design business. Start acting like it this year. Click To Tweet
In this final part of your planning for the first 90 days of the year, you figure out what you’ll be doing each week to reach your goals.
This includes noting the tactics you want to focus on and estimating how long it will take to make them happen, then making sure you have scheduled the time to do it.
Guess what? This part of your plan can and will change as you dive into making progress on your goals. The important thing is to continually check in on your progress and adapt as necessary.
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Accountability / The Hustle Plan Program
By now, you may have an idea of what you want to tackle during the first 90 days of the year.
The final piece of the puzzle is putting a system in place to make sure that your weekly CEO time actually happens.
After all, our clients are always there holding us accountable for our design work. Since we work for ourselves, we’re the only ones there to answer for our CEO goals.
You can try to enlist the help of friends or other entrepreneurs to keep you accountable. But I also want to personally offer to help.
I’ve noticed that what most designers need to keep them on track is some simple check-ins from someone who understands exactly what they’re struggling with. And you get that and more with The Hustle Plan, a program I designed just for interior design business owners.
It’s a 3-month immersive training program that takes a two-prong approach: it gives you the business framework you need to succeed, then it holds your hand to help you focus on what’s most important.
This is a 3-month commitment for you and me. Training consists of:
- A monthly group call with other creative and like-minded business owners for three months
- A monthly private call with me for the next three months
- Weekly prompts from me so you’re fiercely focused on your action items
We connect remotely, which means you can be anywhere in the world.
I hope you enroll now and make this year the one where you achieve the lifestyle you’ve always wanted through your design business.