Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

Reviewing the 2005 Business Goals

Last January, I set some personal business goals for 2005. Today I present my report card, which is full of high and low marks, a neat chart showing month-over-month income, as well as my new business goals for 2006.

Last January, I started my creative business year with several important business goals. They were fairly disparate, comprised of both financial and social goals, and after reviewing 2005, I would say the success has been mixed. Actually, depending on how you look at it, 2005 was either very successful, or just as bad as 2004.

Let’s start with the failures, and we will be honest here. I stated the following:

I am going to send out a minimum of three promotional mailings. In addition, I am going to send out a Holiday card at the end of the year. (I totally suck for not doing this before.)


I am going to acquire at least one new client through these mailings—not through a referral.

Well, not only did I not send out a holiday card, but I didn’t send out any promotional mailings. You ask, “Why not Kevin? Are you not the role model of freelancers everywhere?” Hardly. The reason / excuse for no mailings is simple — I was too darn busy with work. At no point this year did I feel the pressure to promote myself because I can count on one hand the number of nights I had nothing to do, and that was because I was waiting for client feedback or approval, not because I had nothing going on.

Which us brings us to other items on the list:

Year-end billings will be up 20% over 2004. This is not open to negotiation.

This was achieved. In fact, revenue was up about 21%, so slightly better than the goal I set. What’s interesting is the pattern of income from month to month, as seen from the chart below:

2004-2005 monthly income

July and November have been weak, with strong rebounds the following months. Business was more consistent in 2005, which was a nice change of pace. Continuing, we look at another of last year’s goals:

In total, I want at least three new clients. New client business will account for at least 10% of the year’s billings.

Let’s see how we did:

  • 2005 saw me working for a total of 22 (!) new clients.
  • Three of those new clients were referrals from three other new clients in the same year.
  • Two clients were solicited directly from listings and were jobs I successfully bid on. (I composed seven formal proposals; I won six.)
  • Five clients found me through either this site or my personal portfolio site. One client was referred from a designer (who I do not know) who reads graphicPUSH and thought I was pretty good at this whole web thing.
  • The rest were direct referrals from clients I have previously worked with.
  • My first project of 2006 is from a new client.
  • Six clients from 2004 gave me zero new work for 2005. I know two of those companies dissolved, but the rest disappeared. I currently count ex-employees from both of those defunct operations as current clients.

And finally, I stated I wanted some new gear. My new workstation has been ordered and will be here this week. I swear if my current machine crashes one more time my head is going to explode.

Goals for 2006

the baby

This year’s goals are a little more modest for two reasons. First, I pretty much hit my limit last year in terms of work volume I could handle; at one point, I was juggling ten large projects concurrently. At the time of this writing, I have six active projects, which, incidentally, is the same number of Tums I have taken today. Second, my income has reached a point where I am no longer struggling as much. (My wife is a stay-at-home mom for our son — pictured left — which is ten times harder than any job I’ll ever work, but it makes me the sole bread-winner.) So here are the goals for 2006:

  • Income will be up 10%. Again, non-negotiable. I actually think this will be harder than last year since my actual available time to work has not increased. Where 2004 was spotty with work, if 2006 is anything like 2005, holes in my schedule will be scarce.
  • I’m looking for at least ten new clients. I anticipate these will be referrals. (Knock on wood.) I’m also anticipating losing at least five for various reasons.
  • I’m going to send out one card on some holiday this year. Maybe Christmas, maybe Halloween, maybe Arbor Day.

commentary + criticism


wrote the following on Monday January 16, 2006

You could always launch some small but somewhat profitable websites. IE launch some sites in a profitable niche. All that’s saying is waking up 15 minutes earlier, or going to bed 15 minutes later.

Really, if you make well-optimized layouts and content and can get into the right niches, I see no reason why you can’t use this to boost your profits to that 10% extra; of course, I’m unaware of how much you earn from each client.


wrote the following on Friday January 27, 2006

Well, I have to say while 2005 has obviously been successful for you, your thoughts regarding promotion are way off.

You should definately mail out promos. Why? When you have more people asking for work, you have the privelege to up your prices, and chose the best projects. You can’t keep thinking more work = more money. You should start thinking about how to work less, and make more. In other words: don’t deal in number of clients, but in dollars of revenue.