Long Term Business Goals for Freelancers
As a freelancer, it is very easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day work that you lose sight of your long term business goals. After all, what use is thinking about 36 months from now when you’ve got another order to fulfill within the next 36 hours.
But if you overlook your long term business goals, you may just wake up one day to discover that you’ve been working for years without actually making progress.
Your profits haven’t risen.
Your life hasn’t gotten any easier.
Your business hasn’t grown at all.
The time to think about your long term goals is now. While your specific goals are going to look very personalized to yourself, the goal of this post is to offer some generalized ideas for the types of goals you may want to set.
#1 Work Your Ideal Number of Hours
When you first started freelancing, you probably were just set on being your own boss. But did you take time to ask yourself exactly how much you wanted to be working?
Are you just hoping to replace your old 9 to 5 job with 40 hours a week freelancing?
Do you want to significantly free up your schedule by making a full-time income with just 20 hour weeks?
Do you want to go all-in and work overtime in hopes of an early retirement?
One of the first long term business goals that a freelancer should set is their ideal work hours. So take a moment now to decide what your average week of work should look like.
You might have too much on the books now (or not enough) to meet your goal any time soon, but at least you’ll have a benchmark to measure your progress with.
#2 Earn Your Target Monthly Income
Hand in hand with your work hours is your target monthly profit. This number is going to vary greatly depending on your lifestyle and living expenses. It can also change as your business evolves over time.
For example, if you are just freelancing on the side to earn a little extra money, a good starter goal may be to earn $1000 per month.
Once you’ve found some success and are looking to live comfortably off of your freelance earnings alone, you could modify your goal to become a six figure freelancer (which translates to roughly $8,300 per month).
Once you’ve set your first long term business goal for monthly earnings, you can measure your progress every quarter or so to ensure that you keep the growth curve going.
#3 Land a Balanced Number of Clients
Have you ever thought about how many clients you want to serve?
The importance of this question varies based on the type of services you offer. For example, if your primary service is logo design, odds are good that most of your clients won’t regularly be in need of new logos. So you might not need to focus on this goal.
But if you offer a range of services that clients typically need over and over again (such as SEO or content creation), it may be helpful to determine your ideal number of clients. You can use your target monthly income as a guideline.
For example, let’s say you want to earn $5000 per month. If your typical client spends about $600 per month, you know that you need 8 or 9 regular customers.
This can be helpful to you in two situations:
Prospecting. If you haven’t met your client number goal yet, then you know exactly how many new clients you need to land. With a target number in mind, you’ll be able to schedule your outreach efforts and know when you’ve succeeded.
Saying “No”. Turning down work is a lot easier if you know that you’ve already hit your client goal. If you’ve already got 9 customers paying you $600 a month, you may decide that you really don’t need to take a one-off job for an extra couple hundred.
#4 Hire an Assistant
Plenty of freelancers are happy to play it solo, but some have bigger dreams. If you imagine your freelance business one day growing larger than yourself, you should set a long term business goal to hire an assistant.
What do you need an assistant for? Pretty much any piece of your business that you are willing to trust someone else with. Ideally, the stuff that is either boring for you or time-consuming.
A good place to start is processing orders. If you are taking orders on a platform like Legiit, for example, you could hire a virtual assistant to transfer the information from the platform to whatever project management software you are using.
Eventually, as your VA gets to know the business more, you might feel comfortable letting them deliver orders, respond to client inquiries, and even take over aspects of fulfillment.
Hiring an assistant is an important goal because it will free up time for yourself. This flows perfectly with your other goals. If you eventually want to work fewer hours, this is an easy first step. If you want to make more money, then the time your assistant frees up allows you to focus on the more profitable aspects of your business.
#5 Start an Agency
Perhaps the loftiest long term goal is transforming from the freelance model to the agency model. Rather than being personally involved with every single order, you become more of a manager.
This requires you to hire and train a talented team that can deliver the same quality of work that you provide. While it takes a lot of work (and a whole lot of trust) to get there, the benefits are worth the costs:
- Your earning potential is no longer limited by your work hours.
- You can take time off without losing money.
- You can scale your business much faster.
- You could potentially sell your business for a profitable exit.
The Time to Set Long Term Business Goals is Now
Where do you want your business to be next year? 3 years from now? 5 years? 10?
Today is the day to start thinking big. So take some time to plot out your goals. Then make a habit of evaluating them at least on a monthly basis.
You might not always hit every benchmark that you set. But without measuring your progress, you’ll just be flying in the dark.