by Jess Soothill
Whether you’re self-employed, freelance, a small business owner, a creative selling products via another platform, (or all of the above), one thing is for sure, is that you’re likely performing the role of maker, creator, HR, finance, sales and marketing, as well as being the CEO. And, although it is exciting and liberating making your own decisions for your own work, it can also be a challenge to constantly swap hats all the time; especially with important products to make/content to create/ideas to brew up.
However, taking your creative enterprise to the next level won’t happen by you constantly performing the same tasks day in, day out. It’s thus really important to regularly strategically review what you are doing, and what path you are on, to decide whether you’re a) still enjoying it, b) making money, or c) hitting the targets you set when you started out.
Here’s some advice if you work for yourself for how to make sure you get to the next level:
1/ Make time
Take some time away from the daily tasks you do and have a strategy day; much like corporate businesses do when they hold senior management meetings or board away days. No matter how small your business or workload is, this is a really important task to do.
If it’s just you in attendance, that’s fine — just make sure you don’t get distracted by detail. Have a day where you think bigger; plan the next year’s goals, look forward to the next 5 years. What do you want to be doing? Which customers do you want to attract? Can you reach a new market? How will you do it? Where do your audience hang out? Are you there too, and are you present? What are your competitors doing? Set some clear goals and then key actions as to how you will achieve this.
Not only will this kind of activity help you feel more focused, it will also make sure everything you work on going forward is aligned to achieving your overall goals.
2/ Ask the audience
If you’re on social media then ask your existing followers what they like about what you offer. People love to engage in such questions. You’ll get feedback (and a much better idea) on what your USP (unique selling point) is — i.e. why do people follow or buy from YOU? It’s actually tricky for some people to know what this is, especially when you’re consumed in the detail of creating content or products every day. It’s easy to lose track or be unclear of what makes you different, or why people enjoy your content.
Also, look at your popular blog/website posts — what got shared the most? What gets the most likes on social media? What do you get a lot of engagement on when you talk about certain things? This will help build up your story.
3/ Money matters
Look back at your accounts over the last 12-18 months and see where things have gone well, and what hasn’t. Ask yourself whether you should continue to pursue a certain route if it isn’t making you much/any financial gain. Knowing how much income you make every month is so important too — it’s too easy to drift down a certain path, or see someone else enjoying success, and then forget what is the best direction for your business. If you can afford one get an accountant; this will help you to stay on top of your finances and keep you focused on your income.
The most successful entrepreneurs do not get there by accident or by stumbling along from one thing to another, (even if social media would have you believe otherwise). They have clear business plans and goals and don’t deviate far from their mission.
Written by Editor, Jess Soothill