1. Track Your Goals
Look at your design business holistically and identify financial metrics that can measure whether you are on track with your goals. You’ll want to look at 2018 expenses month-to-month and identify events that were not in line with your current goals. Then assign a simple budget for 2019 by reconciling expenses based on your priorities. This allows you the opportunity to set new intentions which will help guide your decisions and goals throughout the new year.
2. Review Budgets Weekly
Principals should perform weekly budget reviews to allow for the opportunity to course-correct if needed. Check-ins should take no more than 15 minutes and will make a big difference. If you wait until the end of the month it might be a little too late to fix the problem or it could snowball into months without reconciling. Also, be sure to stand ground on prices when negotiating budgets with clients to give yourself and your team time to do good work. This will give you the opportunity to work towards your goals rather than hinder them.
3. Get On Instagram
If you’re not already on Instagram, it’s an absolute must for 2019. Social media is one of the first place new prospects, potential partners and editors look to see what’s going on in your business. Think of Instagram as an extension of your portfolio and develop a simple social media plan that enhances your brand, creates an aesthetically pleasing grid and tells your story. Make Instagram posting easy to execute by creating a methodical way to share pictures with your followers. Plus, don’t be afraid to share personal images in addition to your portfolio photos since it will give your audience insight into your personality.
4. Analyze Your Pipeline
Analyze your current projects for the year and how long they will take to complete. Ask yourself, “Do I have enough pipeline to cover expense or do I need to seek more pipeline?” If your answer is yes to the latter, you’ll want to figure out a strategy to get more clients. Since most designers get clients through referrals, we recommend reaching out to your current client base if they are meeting your revenue needs. If not, analyze the clients that you need and create strategies to reach out to them.
5. Develop Industry Partners
Start thinking about industry developers (architects, builders, designers, landscape designers) that will help drive business and refer you for projects. You’ll want to identify people with a similar aesthetic and working style. Then, choose someone aspirational that can refer you to projects and someone coming up that you can refer projects to if needed. Make sure you're planning events to get in front of your industry network and schedule coffee or lunch with the people you meet. Building the right team and developing relationships will set you up for success in 2019 and beyond.