For small business people the new year can mean a lot of things. For me it’s time to develop my business growth strategy.  Many small businesses and companies don’t do much hiring in November and December, and I went into those months wrapping up with two big clients, so they were pretty lean months for me. So now it’s time to grind on and build back up. I’ve spent this week developing a strategy not just to build my business back up, but to grow it in 2017. Over the next weeks I’ll be outlining the various aspects of my strategy as well as how they’re working for me.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

You’ve seen it before, that goals should be Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Timely and that’s step one. My primary goal for this year is to build Brandt Lautman Consulting into a full time source of income for my family. Each month I’m planning to identify smaller goals that will help me reach the large goal. For January I’m setting my sights on a pretty low bar:

SMART Goal 1 – Sign 1 new client

SMART Goal 2 – Reach out to recently past clients

Developing Daily Habits
When you have a goal at some point you have to stop planning it and just start doing it. To this end I have identified the following daily habits to focus on in January

Follow a Schedule

Account for my Time

I don’t have paying work at the moment, which can make it hard to structure my days. During this time of growth my business is my client, and I need to hold myself accountable. This means following a schedule, reporting on my time, and making sure that my efforts are yielding results. My clients wouldn’t let me spend three hours posting on Instagram in the guise of “social media marketing”, so I can’t let myself get away with it either.
Having a schedule also helps me account for my time. Personally, I lose a lot of time to context switching… that moment when you finish one task and decide to check Facebook before starting the next task. Suddenly two hours have past and you have no idea what happened. I’ve found that the Pomodoro Technique works really well for me. I have an added bonus that I use the BeFocusedPro App on my computer for my timer, which then provides me with a great reporting of how I spent each day when it comes time to work on my billing. I love the built in break that tells me when it’s time to get back to work.

I’ve scheduled specific times for checking email and updating social media so that I don’t allow those two tasks to suck up all of my time (because we all know that they can and often will)

Look Back to Look Forward
Reviewing my last year of projects has been a great recap of the skills I developed over the year. I developed a really solid framework for documenting my sites, I learned an enormous amount about woocommerce, I learned PHP, and I maintained and further developed my skills in CSS and HTML.
All of these are skills and practices I can make sure to highlight in my proposals, when I update my resume, and when I update business channels like Upwork and LinkedIn.

Build My Skills
Downtime is a great opportunity for me to develop my professional skills. There are lots of things I’ve been wanting to learn but have never had time for, or things that I know how to do in theory, but have never actually put into practice. I’d like to formally learn how to build a WordPress Theme from scratch, which will help me keep current on all of my coding skills. I’d love to learn about accessibility in web development, which I hope will open up some larger projects that require ADA compliance.