Freelancers Need a Mission Statement

Mission statements are often associated with not-for-profit organizations, but they are not exclusive to 501(c)3s.  For-profit ventures may also have a mission statement.  A mission statement is useful for any type of organization and that includes Freelance consultancies.

Like all other organization leaders, Freelancers periodically need help to focus on our organization’s purpose, especially as we readjust business models and pivot and do whatever else it might take to stay relevant and solvent as the marketplace ground shifts beneath our feet.  Keeping the company mission statement in mind guides leaders as we make decisions and adjustments along the way, ensuring that the soul of the organization remains viable.

Further,  the mission statement shows company leaders and staff how to concisely communicate the purpose of our organization to potential clients.  There is a close parallel between the mission statement and your elevator pitch.

So what exactly makes a mission statement? The company mission statement explains the organization’s purpose and intentions, usually in two or three short sentences.  The mission statement concisely sums up what the organization is about for the public, for its customers and target markets and for the executive team, board of directors and support staff, who will be reminded that the products and services provided must reflect and advance the company mission and achieve its goals.

  • What the organization does
  • For whom the products or services are intended
  • Why the organization provided its products and services

The mission statement differs from a vision statement, which in one or two sentences describes how the world will look when the company mission is achieved. The vision statement is inspirational and aspirational.  The mission statement gives an overview of how the company will realize those intentions.  The company’s (mission-critical) fundamental goals are actions the company takes to enable the mission and realize the vision.

So Freelancer friends, I respectfully suggest that another worthy item for your summer to-do list is to write a Mission Statement for your consulting practice.  Should you decide to also write a Vision Statement, the inimitable Sir Richard Branson recommends that brevity is key and that you keep in mind the 140 character Twitter template to help yourself create an inspirational statement that you can keep real and make memorable.  Branson also recommends that you keep in mind both internal stakeholders (employees) and external stakeholders (clients) when writing either statement.

OXFAM  (Oxford, England)

  • Vision Statement  “A just world without poverty.”
  • Mission Statement  “To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and social injustice.”


  • Vision Statement  “That the United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and kindness.”
  • Mission Statement “To provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. “


  • Vision Statement  “Our vision is to use our passion for technology, content and services to deliver kando, in ways that only Sony can.”
  • Mission Statement ” To provide customers with kando, to move them emotionally and inspire and fulfill their curiosity.” (Kando translates as the power to stimulate emotional response or emotional involvement.)

Thanks for reading,


Photograph courtesy of the Boston Public Library                                                                         The William Vaughn Tupper Collection “Cairo (Egypt) Streets and People” circa 1891-1895


Launch 2017 With Strategic Planning For Your Business

Happy New Year! My wish for all my readers is that 2017 will be filled with good health, good choices and prosperity and a year where you recognize opportunities and successfully move forward to attain what will benefit you.

Part of the process of realizing your goals may involve strategic planning. The process of strategic planning encourages business leadership teams to ask (the right) questions about the value that the business creates and sells at a profit, which is a reflection of its vision and mission.  The goals, objectives, business model and guiding principles (that is, culture and values) are likewise impacted by the organization’s vision and mission. Below are six strategic planning and positioning principles to enhance your planning.

Principle 1:  Sustained profitability

Economic value and the conditions for generating profits are created when clients value your product or service enough to pay more than it costs the business (you) to produce and provide it.  Strategic planning is all about Defining  business goals and objectives and devising strategies and action plans with the thought of ROI, in particular long-term ROI, in mind.  Assuming that profits will be inevitable when sales volume and/or market share are the most accurate measurements of success is not the best way to approach the matter.

Principle 2: Value proposition

First, be certain that what you consider to be the value proposition—that is, the most desirable benefits—matches what clients consider to be the value proposition. Be aware that strategy is not about offering services or products that will be all things to all prospective clients.  Businesses are in need of strategies that allow the venture to compete in a way that allows it to effectively and efficiently deliver what clients consider the value proposition.

Principle 3: Competitive advantage

The unique and desirable benefits that sustain the value proposition must be reflected in and supported by strategy that shapes them into a sustainable competitive advantage.  The successful enterprise will differentiate itself from competitors through the products or services offered, how those are packaged and/or delivered, customer service practices, branding, pricing and so on; those unique features and practices will matter to current and prospective clients.  Still, the company’s business model will likely resemble that of its rivals.

Principle 4: Choices and priorities

Resources are inevitably finite and choices about your products and/or services must be made, in order to define what is necessary and possible and therefore, a priority.  Some  product or service features will not be offered, so that the benefits (priorities) that clients have chosen as highly desirable can be optimized.  These priorities are what sets the business apart from competitors and define the brand.

Principle 5: Flow

Choices and priorities must be baked into the strategies that you and the leadership team devise, to enhance and enable the consistent  delivery of the value proposition. These strategies will be both stand-alone and interdependent, like dominoes.  Choices made to define the target customers that the business will pursue also impact product design and by necessity will impact choices that determine the manufacturing process and its cost.  Choices that determine what will be included in a service will be influenced by the expected target customers and will impact how that service is delivered and priced.  Choices about product positioning and branding will impact where the product is sold and the marketing strategy.

Principle 6: Direction

The late style icon Diana Vreeland, who served as editor-in-chief at both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar Magazines, once said that “elegance is refusal.” A company must define its unique value proposition and that will eventually cause certain potential choices to be declined, because they are contrary to the brand.  The product or service lines can be altered to satisfy customer demands over time and business models can be adjusted to reflect current or anticipated market conditions.  Nevertheless, the vision and mission must be upheld to maintain brand awareness and trust. Strategic direction will guide that process.

Thanks for reading,



Vive la Difference: Coaches and Consultants

Freelance professionals are external consultants who bring agile talent to mission-critical special projects at thousands of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations throughout the world.  Freelance consultants play an increasing role in many organizations, providing vital ad hoc staffing as full-time work forces contract.  We are highly effective,  reliable and adaptable.  We work alone, usually from a home office, and that keeps our operating expenses low and our billable rates affordable.

We are disciplined self-starters who treasure our independence, but there is a downside. Every once in a while, it would be helpful to have team members in the office with us.  We have no one readily available to duck out and have a quick cup of coffee with, no one to help parse a tricky question or lend a sympathetic ear when we hit a rough patch.  We most likely have a support system of colleagues and friends,  but they are not on site and may not have the wherewithal to help us address some of our most important questions.

As a result, many Freelancers consult with a professional to help sort through the array of challenges and decisions that we all eventually face.  Working with the right coach or consultant can bring many benefits to one’s business or personal life.  You may feel the need to receive some expert guidance, but wonder which type of specialist you should hire?

Follow the wisdom of the late management guru Peter Drucker and ask (yourself) questions that will reveal the right answer. Before you call in a specialist, clarify your desires or dilemmas, at least superficially.

For example, you may have a time management problem that results in a work overload that undermines your ability to have a social life.  Your task is to determine its source.  Might you need to hire a bookkeeper to compile the monthly financials, or an administrative assistant to do your billing, or some other professional to take certain tasks off your plate? To resolve business matters,  a business consultant is the go-to person.

If your time management problem results from your inability to set boundaries and understand that you cannot say yes to everyone, which then results in a work overload that undermines your ability to have a social life, then it will be useful to see a business coach to help you to identify priorities and establish boundaries.

Let’s take a look at the focus of each specialty. A business coach will:

  • Help you to enhance competencies you already have and help to bring out the best in you.
  • Help you to identify your passions, acknowledge what motivates you and then brainstorm with you to discover avenues for their expression.
  • Acknowledge and remedy a fear of success, fear of failure, or self-sabotage that you may fall victim to.
  • Provide encouragement and accountability to ensure follow-through of the action plan that the two of you develop.

OUTCOME: An action plan that addresses business and personal development goals and strategies.

A business consultant will:

  • Work with you to assess business strengths and weaknesses and evaluate its preparedness to take advantage of opportunities and overcome obstacles.
  • Improve the viability of the business and position it for growth, scalability and sustainability.  Operational efficiencies, strategy development, the business model, customer acquisition and retention, packaging of services, strategic partnership possibilities, the marketing message, niche market development, pricing, technology needs, staffing and customer service protocols are among the areas that will be examined and evaluated.
  • Work  with you to set reasonable short and long-term goals and objectives for the business, devise strategies and create action plans and time tables to ensure that strategies are implemented.  Follow-up and further consulting services to support and enable your plans can be arranged.

OUTCOME: SMART goals for your business and a way to make them happen.

So which do you need? A coach is like a partner and a consultant is like an adviser. If working on aspects of your personal life, that is if behaviors are the issue, then a business coach may be the better choice, at least initially.  But if you would like to grow and optimize your business , then a business consultant is the way to get the best results.

Thanks for reading,




Before You Make New Year’s Resolutions…

This week,  we’ll  continue the quest of getting you ready for the New Year. Regular readers will recall that last week’s post gave an overview of the benefits of physical exercise.  Those readers are now completely convinced that working out on a regular basis will not only improve their health, strength and endurance,  but will also make them smarter,  more disciplined,  more resourceful and creative and  (most importantly!) better looking.  You’ll perhaps need to know how to kick-start your work out routine and so we will take a look at that old cliche, New Year’s resolutions.

In a study by John Norcross, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton (PA) and author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions  (2012),  45 % of Americans usually make resolutions to put themselves on the right track in the New Year and 38 % never make such resolutions.

Norcross discovered that of those who make at least one New Year’s resolution,  8 % achieve their goal and 46 % continue with their resolution for six months or more.  He concluded that people who make New Year’s resolutions (or other types) are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who do not explicitly make resolutions.

So how do you get yourself into the victorious 8 %? Basically,  you need to pick the right resolutions to pursue and give yourself the tools to achieve them.  The question to ask yourself is,  why do I want to do this?

Change brings one outside of the comfort zone,  so strive to make only those changes that seem to be right for you and do not aim to make changes based on what others feel you should do.  Unless you’ve been failing to meet obligations,  the expectations of others cannot rule your resolutions.  They must be meaningful to you and that will motivate you to work hard and attain them.

Second,  put yourself on the road to success by making SMART resolutions: Specific,  Measurable,  Attainable,  Relevant and Time-bound.  SMART resolutions will be easy and gratifying to track.  Establish target date milestones,  that is interim victories,  and give yourself a small yet meaningful reward each time you reach one.  Milestones are motivators.

Before you jump into taking on your resolutions,  it will be useful to devise an action plan.  How will you bring about these changes? What will be the processes and steps involved?  Map it out and include projected interim victory dates and decide the rewards that you’ll attach to each.

To enact an especially ambitious resolution,  or series of resolutions,  may require a support system,  if for no other reason than to make  you accountable for achieving them.  You may want to enlist a mentor or friend to act as a coach and motivator to give you encouragement and/or advice along the way.

If working out is your resolution and you can afford to hire a personal trainer for individual or (less expensive) small group training,  that will effectively keep you on track,  provide an exercise regimen that will serve as the heart of your action plan and make it easy to identify reasonable milestones.

Whatever you decide to do,  or not do,  about potential New Year’s resolutions,  the upcoming New Year is the traditional time (along with your birthday) to hit the re-set button on life by making some beneficial changes.  Why not review the past year and decide what could be better and what is within your ability to improve? Your resolutions need not be earth-shattering.  The chance of joining the 8% winner’s circle will be greatly improved when you resolve to make small-scale changes that will nevertheless have a noticeable positive impact on your life.

Thanks for reading,


Step It Up: Taking Your Business Venture To the Next Level

You might be doing fine and dandy with your business revenues and profits, or you might feel the need to generate more of both. Regardless of your particular circumstances, it is a well-known business axiom that like a shark, organizations (for-profit or not-for-profit) must continually move forward. Growth = Survival.

Growth in any aspect of life requires well-considered and attainable goals, objectives, strategies and an action plan. Be mindful that what you set out to do, while perhaps far-reaching, has the best chance of success if things are kept quite simple and not complex at all. Here are some strategies that may help you to achieve your goals, whatever they are.

Save time

Productivity is a key component of success in life and business. Whether you prefer to view productivity as working hard or working smart (I say a bit of both!), nothing happens unless what must be done is actually done.  Plans must be conceived, discussed and implemented and then measured for efficacy and impact.

Assess your technological capabilities and make sure that you are using devices and protocols that are time-saving.  Examine also the way you deliver your products and services. Operational efficiencies save time and money and allow you to direct your creative energies toward  money-generating activities, such as performing market research and competitive analyses, or just plain old resting and refreshing your energy stores.

Making it possible to bring in as many customers as possible as your organization quickly and inexpensively provides their products and services is the ultimate goal of productivity. How can you do what you do faster and Continue reading

Successful People Allow Success to Happen

When you implement your fourth quarter Action Plan, be aware that there are some basic and necessary behaviors that you must adopt to create the conditions for the success of your plan.  It can be oh-so-easy to get pulled off your game by people and circumstances that make demands on your time, adversely impacting your energy levels and ability to focus as they do.

You must learn to be “healthy selfish” and strive to preserve your boundaries. Be prepared for some people to get indignant. You may even be attacked by those who feel the most entitled. It’s uncomfortable, but you’ll come to know who our friends are and are not. Consider the process a character development and leadership lesson.

Those who love and respect us give us space to do our thing. They touch base with us every once in a while. They step in to offer assistance and encouragement when we are in need. They never devolve into controlling and manipulative behavior.

I.    Just say no

If you are not able to take on a certain project or agree to a commitment, then respectfully decline. Perhaps you already have many irons in the fire and your schedule is filled. Perhaps you would rather take it easy for a while, resting and recharging your energy stores.

If a proposal doesn’t feel right, seems unorthodox or unsavory, you are not obligated to participate. Those who have vowed to sweet-talk (or arm-twist) you into this arrangement may become furious. Let them do just that. Then cut them out of your life. The last thing you need in your life are manipulators and bullies.

II.   Define boundaries

Everyone likes to be liked. We feel good when we help others and make them happy. But the price of acceptance does not hinge upon the “right” of others to violate our boundaries.  When you feel pressured or uncomfortable by a certain request, recognize that feeling as a sign that your boundaries are being violated.

Someone is attempting to “cross a line”.  Someone does not know his/her place, or role, in the relationship that the two of you are in, even if that someone is a parent or sibling. No one has a “right” to violate boundaries. Politely, but firmly and resolutely, push back and do not allow yourself to be bullied. If the violator persists, well, now you know who loves and respects you and who doesn’t. It can be a bitter lesson.

III.  Ask for it

What do you want? The sale? The assignment? Your team to work at 110% capacity? If you want it, then ask for it!

You must also be prepared to earn it, to demonstrate that you deserve the reward. If you expect your team to work at 110%, then you must work at least that hard and more. If you want the sale or the contract, then show the client why you deserve it and how hard you’ll work to earn it and then fulfill or exceed all expectations when it is awarded to you.

IV.  Release the negative

Mistakes are made and bad things sometimes happen. You may feel hurt and maybe resentful, too. Maybe you should let yourself wallow in those feelings for a while because after all, you are human.  However, you cannot allow yourself to remain stuck in the quicksand of negative feelings. Take a deep breath and then let it go as you step forward toward your vision of a successful future. You have goals and an action plan to help you reach them. Let that propel you out of the muck of resentment. Success is the best revenge.

V.   Walk, don’t run

OK so you’re on a roll, you have a timetable, you want to get things done. This is a one-page, 90-day action plan you’re working through, you say! Patience may not be considered a virtue and explaining things twice becomes an aggravation. Due diligence can happen some other time?

Stop. Breathe. Look at the big picture. Remember now, an ounce of prevention is worth many pounds of cure. Avoid cutting corners. Do not get slap-dash. Some on your pumped-up, charging team may get a bit frustrated, but make sure that your execution is accurate and that you are moving in the direction that will bring about the desired outcomes. Take the time to get buy-in of key stakeholders. You will be successful if you allow success to happen!

Thanks for reading,


A High-Five Finish for 2015: Your One Page Action Plan

Happy September! Summer is de facto over, even if Labor Day Weekend is as late as possible this year.  We are back to business as of today. There is one month left in the third quarter. Start your estimated tax form today and mail it no later than the 15th. Then for your next project, lay the groundwork for a strong finish to the year and develop an Action Plan that you can roll out as the fourth quarter rolls in.

To get started, revisit your long-term goals—maybe you developed those last December or January?—and pick three that stand out as priorities that deserve attention in the near term. These goals will become your focus. Ideally, you will select goals that will substantively impact the success of your organization.

Examples of good focus goals  include operational changes that streamline how you deliver services; customer service changes, such as billing system improvements; hiring an intern or an employee; lead generation initiatives; or a marketing campaign designed to enhance sales or up-selling opportunities. I suggest that you limit your focus goals  to a maximum of three, so as not to overwhelm yourself. The idea is to make a positive impact on your organization within 90 days.

If you have in your employ a leadership team that shares in decision-making, be certain to include them in the selection of focus goals.  It is important to seek out other perspectives when determining goals that will be given priority.  Moreover, the Action Plan will be less successful if you fail to Involve the leadership team and get buy-in for its aims and implementation.

Once you’ve settled on your focus goals,  agree upon which outcomes will constitute their successful achievement. What will signal that you’ve crossed the finish line? Those outcomes will become your success criteria,  milestones that can be objectively and quantitatively measured.

An assignment from a new client; a marketing campaign that has been launched; a new operational efficiency that is in place; an employee or intern who has agreed to`a start date; or a process to bring in new, high-ranking leads that is ready to roll would be first-rate and quantifiable markers of success criteria  for your focus goals.  Give yourself two to four success criteria  for each focus goal.

Identify also one key performance indicator  KPI  for each focus goal  that will allow you to easily determine if you are on track to meet that goal and as well give you time to consider refinements to your Action Plan, if needed. For example, if hiring an intern or employee is a focus goal,  completing the first round of interviews with three or four candidates by a given date would make a useful KPI.  If improvements in your billing system would involve the purchase of new software, the purchase of that software by a given date would represent a quantifiable KPI.

The last step in the development of your one page Action Plan is to create action steps  for the focus goals  and choose reasonable completion dates. Consider what you can or must do to substantively impact each one. Lastly, with your leadership team, decide who will “own” and assume responsibility for carrying out each action step.

Thanks for reading and enjoy Labor Day Weekend.


Business Strategy Consulting: Two Client Success Stories

Little did I know that a phone call would make me feel so good! A client with whom I worked only twice in 2014, because his cash flow was limited, called to tell me that he has brought his dream into reality and I am thrilled. This gentleman has been a fundraiser at a Vermont prep school; a television cameraman; and he is now a successful documentary filmmaker. His 2015 film, Passage At St. Augustine, tells a pivotal and largely unknown story of the American civil rights struggle in the 1960s. Please see the trailer:

I have previously written about how I work, to help you understand what business strategy consulting means. I work with small businesses, mid-sized not-for-profit organizations and self-employed professionals and help them find ways to leverage their skills and competitive advantages to make money. I get called in when clients are stuck, or when they have a goal, but insufficient staffing to achieve it.

Defining reasonable goals is a big part of what I do. Like a doctor, I sit with my “patient”, the client, and examine obstacles, competitive advantages and critical success factors — that is, those things that must fall into place in order to create success. The client and I discuss what the desired goals mean in terms of sustainable business success and confirm the likelihood that the chosen goals will serve that purpose. Should other options be considered?

We then decide which goals are reasonable and appear to be attainable. We identify action items and create a time-table. We choose milestones that mark progress and keep the client motivated and on his/her path. We schedule a date to meet again, so that we can assess what has been done and the outcomes of those actions. We fine-tune the plan and scrap altogether those actions that do not bring about the desired results, or prove to be unworkable for some reason. Rinse and repeat. It’s an approach that yields tangible results for clients.

Over a much longer period of time, I’ve worked with another member of the creative class and helped her to achieve success that she could scarcely imagine. I’m pleased to tell you that this client referred the filmmaker to me. She is a successful painter and collage artist whose stature has grown greatly over the three years that we’ve worked together.

She’s illustrated a children’s book that will be released in September 2015 and there are three more book illustration projects in the pipeline. Please see the press release and scroll through to view the illustrations:

Working with a business strategy consultant can be very useful for leaders of organizations large and small. At some point, we all need to sort through the clutter and find our way to the path that leads to sustainable success.

If you are thinking about how to effectively evaluate and pursue business opportunities; overcome business obstacles; or reach the finish line of an important project at your organization or Freelance venture, you may have thought about consulting with a business coach. Business strategists and business coaches are not interchangeable, although each will be beneficial in certain circumstances. Please give a read to a post I wrote in March 2015 to help yourself make an informed decision.

Inviting a knowledgeable independent professional who has both corporate and consulting sector experience to sit down with you and your team to examine your unique business environment to consider how to evaluate business opportunities; mitigate organizational weaknesses; avoid threats from competitors; and achieve desired profitability and other business goals may be just what the doctor ordered. Every once in a while it is necessary to reach out to someone who can introduce fresh perspectives that like sunshine will burn off the fog so that you can see all that you can do.

Thanks for reading,


Business Coach Or Business Strategy Consultant?

It has become increasing popular for leaders of organizations large and small, as well as Freelance consultants, to work with a coach, as a way to become a more effective leader, manager and decision-maker. Launching and sustaining a business venture is a significant undertaking. The stakes are very high and the margin of error is exceeding narrow. I’ve briefly worked with a coach myself. But is working with a coach beneficial, or a waste of time and money? Experience told me that it depends on your goals and your choice of coach.

Here’s the good news. The International Coach Federation, a support network for professional coaches, has data that demonstrates 86% of coaching clients recouped in business revenue at least what they invested in their coaching sessions. Further, 96% of those business owners/leaders would seek coaching again in the future. The ICF found that working with a coach improves productivity:

  • It keeps you on track. Through regularly scheduled sessions, business coaching provides accountability that encourages you to pursue your goals.
  • You have a forum for reliable and confidential business advice. A good business coach is positioned to use his/her expertise and judgment to guide you through the minefield of business challenges and difficult decisions.
  • You learn to set meaningful and attainable goals. Recognizing the goals one should set and can achieve is one of the keys to success in life and business. Ideally, your business coach will help you identify short and long-term goals and work with you to devise strategies and action plans that will bring your organization into the winner’s circle.

Now for the reality. As I see it, most of the certified coaches operating today have no business experience. Their background ranges from laid-off human resources / organizational development specialists to psychologists who can no longer make the money they want in the counseling field, due to restrictive health insurance reimbursement rules. Precious few of these individuals has ever seen the inside of a marketing department, sales department, finance or operations department.

They do not know how to create a business model; they’ve never participated in writing a strategic plan; they’ve never done a marketing plan; they’ve never so much as sold an umbrella on a rainy day; they could never interpret a profit & loss statement or a balance sheet. The only business decision they’ve ever made is to repackage themselves as a “business coach”, because they see financial potential.

When I prepared to open my consultancy, I saw a business coach who has an MBA from a very respectable program and who worked as a program manager at a mid-size local not-for-profit organization.  She was an acquaintance and so I consulted her for my launch. She was good with keeping me on track, but there were real deficiencies. She was not quite worth the $75/hour that I paid her in 2003.

She was useless in helping me to define my customer or devise strategies in how to reach them.  She was equally useless in helping me to either refine my business model, or offer feedback on the likely financial potential of the model presented. She, a single woman in consulting practice just as I aspired to be, had no words of advice regarding survival strategies, meaning the development of other revenue streams (such as teaching). She is still in business today, but she’s left the immediate area. I don’t know how successful her business is.

Many coaches may have glowing credentials, but the proper application for their experience and training is as a life coach and not a business coach. As I learned, even an MBA is not necessarily qualified to operate as a business coach.  A significant percentage of coaches are someone you call when work-life balance is an issue, or you need a plan for your under-employed husband, who’s become passive-aggressive because he’s envious of your professional success.

Qualified business coaches are available, but like any other professional services provider that you seek, conduct your due diligence. Coaching credentials are not your primary yardstick. Organizational development specialists and psychologists do not know business, so why would you hire one simply because they have some piece of paper?

Business experience and the ability to work with others one-on-one, or as group leader in CEO forums, is the skill-set that matters. Leaders who seek business coaching in fact need a business strategy consultant,  a seasoned professional who has been in the trenches and knows what it’s like to outwit, or get shot down, by competitors and the changing winds of business fortunes. Organization leaders are best served by a wise and savvy pro who has been to the mountain top and returned, to show us how to reach the summit.

Thanks for reading,


SMART Goals For the New Year

Happy 2015!  Once again,  we’re at the top of the calendar and the entire year is ready to unfold before us.  Traditionally,  January is the time for making resolutions.  Unfortunately,  most are not kept and some are not acted upon at all.  I encourage you to think about the kind of year that will make you proud and resolve to bring as many successes as possible into your life.  I respectively recommend that you should be optimistic,  realistic and proactive in that process.  Plant seeds for success as you develop SMART  goals — Specific,  Measurable, Attainable,  Relevant and Timely — that will serve as your road map this year.

1.  Be specific

Telling yourself that you want to “grow the business” or “make more money” is entirely too vague.  How much and what kind of  “growth” or “money” will be meaningful and achievable for your business over the next 12 months?  Are you looking to increase the amount of your monthly or quarterly billable hours?  Is your goal to expand your client list?  Are you in search of perhaps fewer,  but more lucrative assignments?  Would you like to add more prestigious clients to your roster?  All of those factors have the potential to stimulate business growth and bring in more money.

Specify and quantify the type of growth that you seek for your business and how much you aim to attain.  Would you like to increase your client list by 10%?  Increase gross sales by 20%?   Add one Fortune 500 client to your roster?  Increase prices for existing clients by 5% and new clients by 8%? Assess your top line (gross sales),  bottom line (net profit) and client list and consider what will be beneficial for the business; what is possible for you to impact; and determine which criteria will be used as the barometer of success.

2.  Take action

Cutting costs,  creating operational efficiencies,  clarifying your marketing message,  stepping up your networking efforts,  pursuing referrals,  raising prices and revitalizing social media activities are among the strategies that you will evaluate,  prioritize and perhaps pursue as you develop action plans and move forward on your goals.  For every goal that you set,  create an action plan with time table.

3.  Shoot for the stars

Aim high and set ambitious goals,  but be reasonable.   Setting unattainable goals is not helpful.  It is unlikely that you will add 30 clients to your roster in a year,  but if your business is one with a long sales cycle,  adding three new clients would be a real victory.

4.  Review quarterly

Reality will impact your goals along the way,  so it will make sense to periodically evaluate your progress to plan and make any necessary adjustments.  Monitor your measuring sticks and find out what is working and what may not produce the desired results.  Are there any goals that have not shown progress at the 3 month mark?  Do you know why that is so?  Pay attention to your progress,  or lack thereof,  throughout the year,  to help keep yourself focused on achieving what you set out to do.  Reward yourself when milestones are reached,  to maintain your motivation and enthusiasm.  Maybe there is a conference that you’ve wanted to attend previously,  but were unable to budget?  Increased sales may fund that item on your wish list and your business will benefit even more that you planned.

Start now and draft your business goals and do all that you can to make 2015 a rewarding year.

Thanks for reading,