‘We are very much goal driven,’ starts Elke Kramer, founder of object design business Studio Elke and Co-Creative Director of Common-Knowledge. ‘Each year around this time my business partner Kate Hurst and I sit down and create a clear plan for the year ahead. We have a number of targets that are broken down on a monthly basis to ensure the business is viable from a financial perspective, but more importantly we get clear about what direction we want the business and our lives to be going in. We also set an intention for how we want our team to feel each day we are in the studio. It can be easy to just say, “We want to grow the business”, but with growth comes extra stress and pressure and with young families at home, we are both happy to take things slowly at this stage and have a more sustainable, long-term view on achieving our goals.’
Chelsea Hing, interior designer echoes this sentiment. ‘We’re about to celebrate 10 years in business with a trip to Milan. The idea on how to mark the occasion came about by asking, “How do we want to remember this milestone?” This is very much where I’ve come to in my business goal setting over the past few years – by asking what kind of business do I want? What do I want? Life and business are impossible to separate for me. So that’s the question each year now: What do I want more of in my life?’
For artist Miranda Skoczek, goal setting is a relatively new part of her approach. ‘It wasn’t until my (then very new) accountant said to me last year, “Miranda, you’re a business woman” I thought to myself, shit, I am? 15 years into selling my art and 15 years of fumbling about in business — I realised perhaps I was. I then decided the old concept of setting some goals may well be a good one.’
Anne-Claire Petre, founder of furniture and accessories brand, Anaca Studio, has also had a shift in the way she approaches goals. ‘In my first few years, I was simply writing down a list of goals; it was a loose way for me to visualise my direction. Looking back though I was setting the bar too high and not achieving some goals left me feeling rather deflated.’ Now, the Collingwood-based businesswoman works closely with a calendar. ‘This approach with monthly goals really works well for me. It’s great to visualise what you’ve done and where you’re going.’
For Natasha Morgan, founder of Oak & Monkey Puzzle goal setting happens in two stages, at the start of each year and again in the mid-year winter months. ‘My business goals are usually guided by values, aspirations and the sorts of experiences I would like to have and share…This past year I learnt that diverse aspects of my business work differently with the seasons…It’s now about refining the balance, making hay while the sun shines and using the quieter times (over winter) to plan and re-evaluate.’
Acclaimed photographer, Sean Fennessy says it’s more about organic growth for his business than formal goal setting. ‘Last year was my 10th year working as a freelance photographer and I’m not living on the streets, so I think that’s quite an achievement!…Looking back, I think I have made subtle decisions (sometimes subconsciously) that have helped me reach certain milestones… But generally I’ve been happy with the organic growth of things, so I haven’t felt pressured to set regular goals.’
While it may not be formalised in calendars or strategy documents, Sean has some key achievements in mind for 2018. ‘There are some dream clients I have in my sights for this year, especially a couple of international magazines that I’ve been admiring for a long time, but have never quite felt confident enough to contact. I think I’m close to cracking one of them, so fingers crossed!’
For Anne-Claire, 2018 is all about growing her business. ‘The big plan and long-term goal is to move into a bigger premises / showroom’ the designer says. ‘Last year I set up a pop-up retail space in Fitzroy with Elizabeth Bull of One Fine Print. We received amazing feedback but more than that, it was a great experience to work with someone else. Building on the success of this, in 2018 we’ve started a new venture and bigger collaborative project called The Design Co-Op, an event which will be coming in March during Melbourne Design Week.’
Celebrating 10 years will be accompanied by moving home / studio in 2018 for Chelsea. ‘2018 is also about asking where does my focus need to be? From the focus the goals come… and if I get the focus right, I intuitively know I am looking after the higher mission of the business.’ Natasha is likeminded in her approach. ‘My key goal is to continue growing the property and business as an evolving special hub that engenders a sense of real community, sparks dynamic conversations, fosters collaborative connections and provides a place for meeting of the minds.’ This includes hosting a Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s Regional Longest Lunch in March, and setting up a small market garden, which will include harvesting day activities.
Miranda’s focus this year is simply, ‘To push. To do ittttttt… 2017 saw me venture once again into a more design-orientated, commercial arena. Exploring other avenues of my creativity surely will lead me to a more fruitful, dynamic business’. For Elke it’s all about expansion. ‘Since Kate came on board our design processes, production and distribution are working more smoothly than ever. The next phase of our long-term plan is to focus on expanding into new markets as well as our online offering. We have a collaboration with Brinton’s Carpets launching soon we’re really excited about.’
So, what advice would this creative crew give to others setting goals or even thinking of starting their own small business In 2018? ‘Working on your own can at times be overwhelming and it’s tricky to work out where you want your business to go and how you want to get there,’ says Anne-Claire, ‘But we all start a business to be successful, so write down what you think you need to do to achieve this.’
For Elke, it’s about asking for help. ‘Get professional advice and support when you need it. By engaging a mentor or business coach to help you navigate the waters you will have such an amazing sense of support, which can be crucial when hitting a rough patch or a fork in the road.’ Miranda suggests starting with small steps. ‘The key is attainability. Obviously, you want to inspire yourself, not stress yourself out. Mini accomplishments propel you forward’. According to Chelsea, it’s all about staying true to your own goals, not other people’s. ‘Ultimately you want a business you can be proud of, that is worthy of your time and energy. Make decisions that are aligned with that. My life is mine, make it extraordinary’. Natasha agrees, ‘My dad told me growing up that if you focus on what you love and things that truly inspire you, it’s most likely you will be good at what you do and, naturally, success will follow’. For Sean it’s about carving out your own niche and just doing great work. ‘Having your own clear voice is important. The best advice I received was that no photographer is magically better than others. Generally, it’s a combination of photographic skill, good relationship building and awareness of the industry that makes for success.’
Fiona Killackey is a business consultant and the founder of My Daily Business Coach, a consultancy that helps creative small business owners (and their teams) understand, create, analyse and improve their marketing, content and overall business. Stay tuned for her tips for better business goal setting next week!
Fiona is also running a full-day workshop on Marketing for Your Small Business Saturday March 4th with Natasha Morgan. Tickets available here .