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

Setting Yearly Business Goals

Although 2004 was a good year in terms of business, none of that success can be attributed to planning or strategy. In an effort to better myself and my business, I am officially setting business goals for 2005.

Over the past few years, I have been slowly learning how to more efficiently run a freelance business. For awhile, when I was early in the game, I was freelancing full time from a rented office, charging too little and scrambling to find clients. With no business experience, I was a pilot who didn’t understand the plane’s controls.

Fast-forward to the present where my ears aren’t quite so wet. Now that clients are starting to come to me (something I thought would never happen), I have become more discriminating in my business practices—who I retain as customers, what projects I take on and being more responsible with income.

By just about any standard, 2004 was my best year to date. Not only was it the highest in billings, but I also acquired several great clients and phased out some less appealing riffraff.

Interestingly enough, none of this was due to planning. Around December, I got to thinking I had spent most of the year jumping from project to project without any thought to business strategy, future income or personal goals. I sent out only one promotional mailing. I didn’t upgrade a single piece of equipment. I never looked past the current month.

Maybe I didn’t have enough time. Maybe I was subconsciously doing something right. Maybe I just didn’t want to deal.

As a designer struggling with the business end of creative, this is flat-out unacceptable. So in an effort to get 2005 on track to be an even more successful year—and in an effort to be a better freelancer—I am hereby declaring several goals for the new year:

  • Year-end billings will be up 20% over 2004. This is not open to negotiation.
  • 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.
  • In total, I want at least three new clients. New client business will account for at least 10% of the year’s billings.
  • 5% of billings will go toward new equipment. Gosh I’d sure like a new laptop.

These are not “New Year’s Resolutions.” They are Business Goals, and I’m posting them here for two reasons. First, I think it’s important to spell out these goals in writing to solidify my thoughts. Second, by posting in a public space, I am much more inclined to follow through and report back at the end of 2005. Which, of course, I promise to do.

commentary + criticism

John Y.

wrote the following on Thursday January 20, 2005

I never really know what to charge, myself. And it probably compounds matters that I offer a discount to non-profit groups and government officials if I like their mission/politics. The joy of local DC design work. ;)

Of course, this is all moot now that I’ve gone back to in-house design (for a non-profit, though).

Dave Cordes

wrote the following on Friday January 21, 2005

We sound like very similar people although I DID send a holiday card! My revenue for the past year was the best over the past 3 years and I’ve weeded out some bad clients while gaining several very good ones.

I like the goals you’ve outlined for the new year. I’ve always wanted to market to my existing clients considering I have nearly 80 of them. I think if I did I would get a landslide of new business which kind of scares me actually.

Anyway, very nice article and good luck this year!

P.S. Could I call on you if I need some design help?


wrote the following on Friday February 11, 2005

it is nice to read of successes…i have long desired to go out on my have the variety of have the ‘freedom’ feel like i am building something and it is worth while..rather than just crankin’ it out for ‘the man’...
be interesting to hear how you and others finally decided to ‘take the plunge’...


wrote the following on Sunday February 20, 2005

I’m new in the business, just 6 monthes of work as a freelance webdesigner : getting clients, charging little, working hard, learning a lot… Hum, seams like you’re old life :) !
But, I’ve planned to make a point now, after 6 monthes, to have a clear idea of what I’ve done (in term of business, not work), and where I must go for the next 6 monthes and what business goals to achieve. Thanks to your article, I now have interresting things to add : some more numeric objectives in term of clients !

In fact, you’re right : we all have to plan some sort of business objectives, this is were we probably realy have to work ! We are all proficient in web design, drawing and programming…