Preparing for an Amazing 2018

CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

December is usually a busy time for designers, so you’re probably wondering, “What are you thinking, Gail? Who has time to plan for next year? I’m still trying to get through this year!”

I hear you. And that’s exactly what I want to talk to you about. My holiday wish for you is that your business be even more successful in 2018. Now, I’ll let you in on a secret that I discovered some years ago. The way to do that is to plan now to do less.

Let me explain. I know from my own experience and from working with other designers how easy it is to fall into the trap of trying to do everything all the time. You want to please every client, manage every detail, solve every problem, watch every dollar. It’s understandable. You take pride in your work. You’re a professional. Understandable, but misguided.

No one is equally good at everything. If you are trying to do it all, then you’ve got weak spots in your execution. So, to make your business perform even better next year, start thinking about the things you can stop doing that are taking you away from the things you ought to be doing more of to grow your business.

Sometime between now and the beginning of next year’s business cycle, take some time out to review how your business did this year and where you made the biggest contribution. Maybe you excel at design, at selling, at client relationships, at project and/or business management, or at marketing and client acquisition. Whatever your talents and skills, how much more business could you be doing if you spent more time focused in those areas?

The only way to free up more time for the things that matter most is to eliminate less productive and less profitable activities from your schedule. What duties could you be delegating to someone else? Perhaps office management, bookkeeping, website and social media management, PR, or routine design and purchasing tasks. Set limits to reduce how much you spend on potential time wasters like checking email and messages, social media posts, meetings, and researching purchases. Don’t try to be all things to all clients. Define and focus on your ideal client and the type of design you do best. Don’t accept projects from clients you don’t want to work with.

While you’re at, make your office more efficient, too. Establish an office system, if you don’t already have one, so you are not recreating basic forms and documents anew with each new client. Invest in office and design management software or cloud-based services to streamline scheduling, purchasing, invoicing and record keeping.

When you focus on what you do best, you experience greater job satisfaction, have less stress, and achieve more with less effort. Make it your resolution for the new year to do less and watch your business thrive.

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