This isn’t so much a technical post but more about how important it is to set goals and the amazing payoff there is in achieving them. For the first year or so running the business I was perfectly happy coasting through and picking up clients here and there and watching the revenue slowly increase. I did no active new business development. Pretty soon I realized that my numbers were kind of hovering and not really getting up to where I would need them to be to do this as a full time job. After reading a ton of books and business blogs, it was apparent that I needed a business plan and to set some goals within it. So in 2007 I decided to write down my business, and well as personal, goals in my business/life plan. I didn’t go the route of the traditional business plan but created more of a life plan with my business integrated into it. Once I set my goals I had something to strive for.
- Double my client base in Harrisburg as well as the Lehigh Valley (achieved)
- Increase revenue AND profit by 25% a year until 2012 (achieved)
- Find subcontractors to lighten my work load (achieved)
- Improve quality of work and complexity of project (achieved)
- Become THE company to provide quality, standards-based, web sites (almost there)
- Drive my dream car (2006 Dodge Charger) that my business paid for (achieved, proof of the goal -scroll to the bottom)
- Figure out all of the little milestones to reach your goal
- For my financial goals, I figured out how many hours I needed to bill on average weekly to improve my numbers to what needed to be.
- Successfully hit each milestone
- Once I figured out these milestones, I watched my billable hours very closely. If it looked like I was going to be short I actively went looking for more work. This meant following up with current clients to see if we could improve or build on what they had as well as finding new clients and asking for referrals or partnerships.
- Be Disciplined and Focused on Your Goals
- It is easy to forget about your goals and push them away to do other things. To help with this I have a whiteboard right next to my desk that shows exactly how much I must bill on average weekly to hit the yearly revenue number. Along with this I have how many hours of billable time this would take as well as the average monthly revenue needed. I also have a list of open projects, late invoices, and end of contract dates. Having these metrics in front of me at all times keeps me very informed of my goals and what is necessary to accomplish them and how I am doing.
This is the best part. Actually having your goals down in writing makes the payoff that much sweeter. I look at that article above where my personal goal of driving my dream car within 5 years and it was written in late 2007. I was able to buy the car in September of 2008. I was able to accomplish a 5 year goal in less than 1 year. The same goes for all the goals. The fact that I have been able to increase revenue (28%) and profit (43%) each year since I wrote the plan makes me feel like I have accomplished something great. Sometimes the goals don’t seem like great payoffs if money or objects are not involved but the lessons learned along the way in achieving the goals you set are invaluable.