New quarter, new goals.
Independent businesses tend to ebb and flow throughout the year, so it makes sense for freelancers to plan on a quarterly basis. The end of each quarter is the perfect time to review the last few months of business and check in with your short-term goals and long-term vision.
With this in mind, we asked six freelancers how they prepare for a new quarter so you can get some ideas to conduct your own quarterly review and confidently head into the next quarter with renewed motivation and clear goals to aim for.
Review the last quarter
The first step to prepare for a new quarter? Looking back at the last quarter and reviewing how it panned out — both professionally and personally.
“I review how the last quarter went and build upon that by choosing a few goals to work on,” says Leanne de Araujo, the copywriter and owner behind Calmer Copy. “This includes business, health and personal goals.”
For Sarah Fernando, a fractional product marketing director and SaaS branding consultant, a holistic view means considering both quantitative and qualitative results.
“It’s easy to review my revenue and expenses,” says Sarah, “but it’s just as easy to fall into the trap of wanting to best those numbers, at the expense of your wellbeing.”
Sarah adds, “I look at how my business impacted my life. Was I working on projects that made me happy? Did I have a good relationship with my clients? Did I have a good balance between work hours and off hours? And based on those answers, what needs to change for the next quarter?”
Switch up your surroundings
Before digging into your quarterly review, Tamay Shannon, a social strategist, recommends breaking from your routine to get into a different mindset.
“My favorite thing to do is get an ‘odd’ Airbnb for two days,” says Tamay. “Day one is to complete the previous quarter, day two is to create the new quarter. Last time I stayed in an airstream at a flower farm with chickens!”
She adds, “It’s key for me that I get out of the house and put myself in [a] space that doesn’t feel ‘normal.’ It makes it easier for me to think differently.”
Audit your clients
After looking at the big picture, zoom in and review specifics about your business, particularly your current clients.“I’ve saved myself a lot of mental and emotional energy after objectively reviewing my client roster,” says Connie Ngo, a growth marketing consultant, “and have off boarded clients that weren’t mutually a good fit.”
Connie recommends auditing your client roster by asking yourself these questions:
- Have I noticed any trends with my clients that I need to address? Late payments? Increase in requests?
- How is my effective hourly rate? Am I due to raise my rates?
- Are there any clients I want to off board?
- Do I have bandwidth for additional clients?
“Sometimes I feel like there’s this sentiment that we should ‘stick it out’ — the ‘it’ being a job or contract work — even though you’re not really vibing with them and they’re maybe not vibing with you,” says Connie. “But we should be putting ourselves in situations that maximize our potential because that’s when we do our best work and can provide the best value to our clients.”
Set new goals
“Freelancers have to pivot…a lot,” says Toni Allen, publicist and owner of Gladstone & Main Public Relations. “I try to level up each quarter. I look at my goals and accomplishments from the last few months, set attainable goals that reflect where my business currently stands, and set million dollar vision goals that require me to push myself.”
For Julie Moe, freelance web designer and CEO of The Gutsy Mama Project, breaking down those goals into smaller, manageable steps is key.
“Want to network? Find five events that your ideal customer would go to. Want to run ads? Make a list of all the steps to make that happen,” says Julie. “This helps you feel like you’re kicking ass even when you haven’t reached your big goal yet and keeps you moving forward.”
But give yourself grace if you don’t reach those goals
“I think we fall into a trap of feeling like we need to constantly achieve and do better and pass the next goal post,” says Sarah, “especially when we’re driven individuals working for ourselves. But maintain your perspective and look at what you did achieve!”
Toni adds, “You can finish the year strong. If you didn’t see the business flow the way you were hoping for, what needs to change? What networking events can you attend? What business development opportunities are out there? Set your intentions and approach your goals one quarter at a time. The same goes for my clients — no one stumbles into greatness! Together we set a vision for good, better and best outcomes.”