I’ve been working for myself now for 4 years, firstly as a freelance illustrator after graduating from a degree in illustration, and for the last 3 running my own stationery and greetings card brand, Hunter Paper Co.
Hunter Paper Co. originated as a side project while I was freelancing and quickly gained momentum and became my full time business. It took a while to niche down to what was really selling, find a consistent brand style and also tackle learning the business side of things, but 3 years on from officially setting up the business I feel like I’ve really found my flow and I’m beginning to strategically plan ahead more and more.
It’s so easy when you’re building a business, especially if you’re doing it on your own to get caught up in the day-to-day. There’s so much to get done, you want to say yes to everything and the to-do list never seems to get smaller! So I thought I’d share some tips of what I’ve found helpful in planning ahead and thinking strategically.
Look at the year as a whole
I usually do this at the start of the year, I mark into a diary or a calendar big work events in the year, even if they aren’t set in stone. That way when I have those big events in mind, I know they’re on the horizon so it probably isn’t a great idea to veer of course too far in the months leading up to those big events. I also highlight calendar events such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s etc, which play a huge role in my business, so if something like this could boost your sales it’s worth paying attention to them even a few weeks before.
Prioritise on a daily basis
It’s easy to get into the studio in the morning and just start working on the most exciting thing or the thing you’d like to do the most. If there’s a big project looming though this procrastination can have a huge knock on effect. Write a to-do list of just 3 - 5 things and put them in order of priority. This gives you a little bit of structure in your day, when there’s really no rules - sometime you’ve just got to be the boss and discipline yourself.
Do your accounting!
I have to admit, I’ve only really learnt the value of this in the last few months! 🙈 If you’re on top of your accounts you can plan ahead with confidence and stress a whole lot less! It’s also given me a little extra motivation, I’ve set income goals and I’m driven to reach them each month rather than just producing work and seeing what sells!
Make it visible
In the run up to big events in my business, like a trade show for example, I draw it all out and pin it to the wall in front of my desk. I draw out a calendar and cross out days to remind myself how quickly time is passing and I don’t have time to browse facebook! I also put floorplans for the show, or design drafts or to-do lists up on the wall in front of me, so everything is easily accessible, and it also reminds me to keep the final goal in mind in everything I’m doing.