You know that old saying -- if you don't know where you're going, any path will get you there. That's what happens if you don't take time to figure out what your goals are and WRITE them down. There's power in writing things down. Trust me, I'm a writer. I KNOW.
Figuring out your goals is probably one of most important and one of most overlooked steps for creative professionals starting their business. Ideally you should put together a business plan. However, I have yet to meet a creative professional (including myself) who has one. (In fact, if you do have a business plan, please contact me. I'd love to chat with you about it.) Second best is getting your goals down on paper. Here are some things to include.
* Your personal mission statement. What do you want to accomplish in your life? Not just as a creative professional, artist or writer, but as a person. Knowing your mission will make organizing your time much easier.
* Your creative or artistic goals -- both long-term and short-term. What do you want to accomplish in three months? Six months? This year? Five years from now?
* Your financial goals -- both long-term and short-term. Don't forget to write down how much money you want to make.
* Your plans for your business -- both long-term and short-term. Break it down same as your creative or artistic goals -- three months, six months, one year and five years. Include a marketing plan as well. It doesn't have to be elaborate, just figure out who your target market is, where your target market is (i.e., local, regional, specific cities or national), and how you're going to reach your target market.
* Action steps for each goal, including marketing plan. Break each goal into manageable steps, number each step and add a completion date. Make a separate copy of this and put it where you can incorporate these action steps into your daily activities.
Don't rush this process. In fact, you should make it a treat for yourself. Go on a retreat. Try and get away for at least a day if at all possible (a couple of days would be better yet). Go somewhere where you won't be interrupted (and that includes cell phone). Allow yourself some quiet time to really think. If it helps, do some meditating or journaling during this time.
Don't worry about it being perfect either. This is a working document. Ideally you should review it every six months or a year and see where you are and what's changed.
Now, when I first started my business five years ago, I hadn't planned anything or written anything down.
This was a mistake.
Sure I had some vague notions in my head of where I wanted my business and my writing to go, but by not committing anything to paper, I didn't end up there. My first three years of my business I was busy and making money, but I wasn't getting anywhere near vague notions dancing around in my head. Even more amazing, I couldn't figure out why.