Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t going to accomplish goals by shouting them into the ether and declaring it to be true.
(Okay, maybe that’s not a popular belief, but you get what I’m saying. Simply saying “I’m going to be _____ this year doesn’t magically make it a reality.)
On top of that, declaring “I want to get more Instagram followers this year” as a goal won’t actually move the needle forward in your business. 👀
Setting goals, whether for business or personal purposes, is an art. Goals should most definitely help you dream bigger, but they should also be realistic and achievable. So, how do you balance between shooting for the stars, but also creating bite-sized goals that help you move the needle forward?
With a little bit of strategy and planning, we can 1) figure out where you are now, 2) set intentions and goals, and 3) create an actionable plan to achieve said goals. Let’s get into the first installment of this series – reviewing where you are now!
Evaluating your current business & brand
In order to set realistic goals, we first have to evaluate where we are now in business. At the end of every year (or month, or quarter, whatever cadence works best for you), I like to take a day to evaluate what went right and what went wrong in my business. A year in review, if you will.
Essentially, I ask myself a series of questions, which you’ll see listed below. Brace yourself, it’s a lot! But it’s crucial to understand where you are now so that you can set goals that are realistic for your business. In each section, you’ll see questions that you can ask yourself, as well as my own evaluation as an example.
Pro tip: Too overwhelmed to do this on your own? (Same.) Enlist a business buddy to go through this with you! That’s what I did 😄
Break out Your Guide to Goal-Getting to fill out as we go along, and let’s get started!
Let’s start with the moneymaker of your business: your products and/or services. These questions will vary depending on the type of business you run.
Questions to ask yourself
If you sell a product, you’ll want to analyze what products sold the best and what didn’t.
- If you sell multiple “types” products (i.e. home decor), what sold the best?
- What do you enjoy selling the most?
- What do you enjoy creating or sourcing?
If you’re a service-based business, you’ll want to analyze your different package offerings as well as your entire client roster.
- What package was the most popular amongst your clients, and which package do you enjoy doing the most?
- Which clients filled your cup, and which clients drained it?
- What is your closing or conversion rate?
My Sales Review:
At the beginning of this year, I offered several different packages and would customize packages for clients. I would serve couples, college grads, and families in addition to branding clients.
Now, I only offer ONE package to new branding clients (The Brand Experience), and I have another smaller package that I offer to returning clients only. I honed in on this ONE star offer (thanks to guidance from my mentor Paige Ray – more on her later.)
No more one-off headshot sessions, no family sessions, no weddings, nada. This allows me to really perfect my craft and provide the best client experience possible by streamlining my entire process!
- What courses and education did you invest in this year?
- Did you invest in courses, masterminds, 1-1 coaching, conferences, and/or workshops?
- What was worth it, and what wasn’t?
- Are there areas that you want to focus on next year?
My Education Review:
The best education investment I made in my business this year was working 1-1 with my mentor, Paige Ray. I had a 1-1 consultation call with her at the beginning of the year, then I invested in a longer-term later in the year. Hands down, this was the best thing I could have done for myself and my business this year! They key is to find a mentor who works for you – and Paige was my perfect mentor match!
I also invested in a course specifically for brand photographers by Meg Marie Photo. Another huge win! Her course helped me streamline my processes and client communication for the better, and that investment paid off immediately.
This year, I also invested in product photography resources. This taught me that I DON’T like product photography. 😂 And that’s okay! It’s valuable to know what isn’t my zone of genius.
People are my jam! I like to photograph people WITH products (aka, lifestyle product photography), but product photography alone is not my thing.
Income & Expenses
One thing I want you to remember is that when you see people posting online about making 6-figure sales, that does NOT equate to a six-figure income. At all. I don’t say this to undermine people that DO make six-figures in sales – that’s amazing! But I don’t want you to be led astray and feel like you are lesser for not making this arbitrary amount of money.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about what you should review. If you’re looking for more support in the money area, I recommend reading Profit First — I touch on this a little bit in this section.
Places to audit/review
- Yearly subscriptions and memberships
- What have you used in the last 30 days, and what have you not touched? If you haven’t looked at it…get rid of it.
- One-time software purchases
- Profit margin
- What was your NET income? NOT gross income. After taxes, expenses, payroll, etc, what did you take home?
- What % goes to taxes vs expenses vs your owner’s compensation?
- Did you take home enough money to cover your own expenses? Use this to plan for next year.
My income & expenses review:
Regarding yearly expenses, you can see all of the subscriptions that I use here!
I won’t get into money specifics here, because that’s not helpful. But, I will share my Profit First allocations with you:
- Operating Expenses: 34%
- Owner’s Compensation (take home pay): 46%
- Profit: 5%
- Tax: 15%
Content & Marketing Review
Time to pull out your Instagram and email marketing insights! Let’s talk about the content that worked and didn’t work.
- Did you attend any markets or events that helped you network and increase sales?
- Which blog posts (and Pinterest pins) drove the most traffic to your website? And which ones can you update for the next year?
- What Instagram posts had the most engagement?
- What email campaigns did the best?
- What freebies converted the best?
- Where do most of your leads come from?
My Content & Marketing Review
No networking events this year, because pandemic. But, I did begin to build my online community on Instagram using Kirsten’s of Alway Services Engage to Grow guide.
On Instagram, my educational posts and IGTV videos did really well. My Indoor Lighting 101 Series had great engagement. On the blog side, Quick iPhone Settings Trick for Higher Quality Photos brought the most traffic to my website.
In the email department, my personal emails had the most opens and replies. My free Lightroom Mobile Preset had the highest conversion rate of all of my freebies.
Where does most of your time go? Client work? Email? Marketing? Use Toggl Track to track your time. Is something sucking your time away? What could be outsourced? What tasks do you spend a ton of time doing that aren’t in your zone of genius?
What do you WANT to be doing? Do you actually spend your time doing it?
If you aren’t sure how to track your time, check out Toggl Track. It’s a free tool that allows you to keep a log of all of your tasks and how long they take.
My time review:
Looking at my report in Toggl Track, I only spent about 35% of my time doing client work. The rest was spent on administrative tasks, marketing, creating content, creating my course (Brand Your ‘Gram), etc. 🤯 This definitely surprised me!
I outsourced editing this year, but the next biggest chunk of time was spent managing my inbox, editing videos, and creating social media posts.
“These times” have definitely caused all of us to be a bit more introspective than usual. So, you may have already been thinking about these things. For this section, I encourage you to spend some time in this section reflecting.
- How is your day to day quality of life?
- Did you spend time with your loved ones?
- Did your business serve YOU this year?
- Do you live to work, or do you work to live?
- Are you happy with where you are?
Big applause to you, because that was a lot to take on! 👏
Now that you’ve done this business year in review, you might be seeing common themes. Maybe you realized “hey, I don’t like editing, but I spend a LOT of time doing it.” Or, “I don’t like spending all of my time on social media, but I spend a lot of time there because that’s primarily where I find clients.”
Take this information and sit on it for a little bit. Now that we have these insights, we’ve set up the groundwork to create realistic goals that get us where we *actually* want to go.
Get ready – in part 2, we’ll set your goals & intentions over the next year, and in part 3, we’ll create a plan to accomplish these goals. Stay tuned!
About the author
Hi there! I’m Emily, and I’m a brand photographer for passionate leaders who want to turn the tide of their industry.
I, my (dog) daughter, and my fiancé are based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here at Emily Kim Photography, I provide creative, strategic brand photos for personal brands who are ready to stand out in their market. I also provide strategic 1-1 support as a small business consultant for budding photographers and creative business owners.