Updated: Jan 10
I’ve been putting this blog off all week. I’ve been watching other people’s New Year’s Resolutions and ‘2021 wins’ roll in off the social media wave that occurs every late December. I contributed to
some of these trends, and I blatantly ignored others.
It wasn’t until I was standing on the grass of The Meadows in Edinburgh, a flute of Cava in hand (Prosecco and Champers make me emotional you see), in between my two best friends whilst we watched various student groups set off fireworks… that I took a bit of time to honestly reflect on the year that has been. It’s been a year of firsts, progress, heartbreak and challenges but I’ve made it out, and I’m proud of the changes that I’ve made and the person I’ve become since 1st January 2021.
So for those that are interested, here’s how I’ll be leaving 2021 and how I developed my strategies to make 2022 the best it can be. Here’s what I’ll be covering:
- A step-by-step guide of how I built my 2022 strategy
- A free downloadable Business Review template for 2022
- Links to my personal 2021 analysis and 2022 strategy
New Year’s Resolutions Themes
I saw a post on Twitter in early December which hit home. As someone who was, at one point (last year!) toxically and unhealthily obsessed with goals, processes and achievements, choosing myself a New Year’s Resolution didn’t really seem appropriate this time around. Instead, I have chosen a theme; something that aims to underlie every decision, action and mental battle between the devil and the angel on my shoulders, with one good intention. That way, there’s no hard-to-stick-to goal. There’s nothing that demands to be ticked off every single day. There’s nothing that I’ll be fighting my inner self over when I want a so-called ‘cheat day’. Yet the motivation for doing something good for myself remains.
Therefore, I have a 2022 Theme: to go through the year with ‘Equitable Balance’. For example, I will try not to let work (in any format) spill into my craft evenings, well-earned weekends, training time, social time, or my relaxing holidays. This is not a goal of making every week strictly routine in terms of balancing these holistic aspects of the life that is mine but instead developing an understanding that it’s ok to not be working hard all the time.
I’ve made huge progress this year due to working hard, remaining dedicated and sacrificing some things. But I also missed out on many an opportunity because I just didn’t let go, I didn’t put down the laptop or I didn’t pick up the phone. So it’ll be all the ‘Equitable Balance’ in 2022 for me.
How I built my 2022 Business Strategy
Step 1: Looking back my 2021 business goals
Whilst you might have hated 2021 and just want to look forwards, it does you good to sometimes look back. Don’t dwell but reflect on last year’s goals. Here are some questions to get you thinking:
- Did you achieve all you wanted?
- Were they actually realistic or useful goals to have?
- How hard did you work towards them?
- Did your values change and therefore direct your efforts away from your original goals?
- What else did you achieve on the way?
I find the best way to reflect on previous goals is to tackle them one by one. I do mine in a journaling style so it’s not that neat, but more of an explosion of thoughts and ideas, but if you prefer a more systematic approach, you could easily do a table like the one below.
Step 2: Spreadsheets of data
Next, I basically gather all the data I can; some of which I collect once the year is out, and some I do as I go along. However, for some, data in a spreadsheet can look quite overwhelming! It’s important to think about which statistics / numbers / values link to your 2021 goals, then make these column titles in your spreadsheet.
Example 1, if your goal was to increase your professional Twitter presence, you could look at the number of new followers you gained in 2021, the number of Tweets you put out (was this consistent?), the number of DMs you got from fellow industry members, and potentially the average engagement rate etc.
Tip: to work out engagement rate on any social media platform use the following equation. Note that the metrics are sometimes called different things so make sure you’ve got the right one!
INTERACTION (how many people clicked on, liked, commented, shared your post)
REACH (how many people saw your post)
= ENGAGEMENT RATE %
Example 2, if your goal was to get 10 freelance clients in 2021, this is quite easy to work out! It might also be worth working the average income from each client, the most time given to each client and therefore also your average hourly rate for each client. Whilst you might not price your service hourly (I recommend project-based pricing!) you should have an hourly rate number in your head to make sure you’re not working too much for too less!
Tip: to work out your hourly rate use the equation below
Total Project Revenue (eg £500)
Total hours you spent on the project (eg 20 hours)
= revenue per hour
(£25 per hour)
I collate all the data in a single spreadsheet so that it’s all in one place, as well as helping me draw connections between the different aspects of my business. I have a downloadable free template of my 2021 Business Review spreadsheet – get filling it in for 2022 too, to save you the hard work in December. Here are just some of the aspects I look at:
- General overview – including the number of clients, projects, published articles, revenue, changes in my rates
- Website – traffic, blog readers, traffic sources
- Social media – I break this one down into the social media platforms I use and gather all the relevant metrics month on month e.g. engagement rate, link click-throughs, follower growth
- Financial – I look at my revenue and expenses (perfect time to also start completing my Self Assessment form!), which projects the largest profits came from, any changes in my rates, and time spent on certain projects
Step 3: Draw the conclusions
Once I’ve gathered all my data, I compare it to my 2021 goals and see what happened! If your goals contain metrics and specific milestones – which is sometimes easier for social media goals eg to have your average monthly engagement rate at 6.5% for 2021 – then comparing your success rate is easy! It can even be on a larger scale, for example, to get £16k in revenue from your freelancing in the year (or financial year!). If you didn’t have specific details in your goals, that might be something to think about for 2022.
When drawing conclusions it’s also useful to think about all the external factors that impacted your success that year (hello pandemic!). The Covid-19 pandemic might have aided your side hustle because it meant you could work when you’d normally be commuting to your job. Alternatively, it could have also taken away any face-to-face networking opportunities to build your business and your network. Take these factors into consideration.
Check out my 2021 Business Review Conclusions HERE!
Step 4: Bring it back to what I believed in – the holistic picture
An important thing to think about is the holistic picture. Sometimes we get so focused on the nitty-gritty that we forget to acknowledge how our lives aren’t clean cut – all the aspects and factors interlink. Give some thought to the following questions:
- Have your priorities changed – maybe you started a new and more demanding 9-5 job and therefore couldn’t give as much attention to your side hustle as you could at the start of the year.
- Have your values changed – you might have experienced a change in values if you’ve been working on your personal growth this year, or perhaps if different people have entered your inner circle of family and friends
- Has something happened outside of your business life that impacted the work you were doing – for example, in Summer I experienced a change in my triathlon training schedule in terms of having a lot less time to do it. This decrease in physical activity resulted in a noticeable decrease in my motivation to do anything and consequently resulted in a decrease in my work.
As well as thinking about the past year with some ‘big picture thinking’, think about where you are right now. What are you motivated by now? Your identity has likely changed (even if only slightly!) throughout the year, which will give you a perspective on who you are now and how you want to go forwards.
Step 5: Make the goals
Now you’ve looked back at what you have and haven’t quite achieved, and you’ve analysed where you are right now using some ‘big picture thinking’, give some thought to the goals for next year.
If you’re like me and don’t want New Year’s Resolutions, pick a 2022 ‘theme’ – something that you’ll try to apply to your decisions and your actions. Whilst some might see this as a bit fluffy and lacking structure, it is also something a bit more holistically beneficial.
Having said that, when it comes to your Business Goals, and your Social Media Goals should be SMART;
- Specific – link it to your values and exactly to what you want to achieve eg instead of thinking about being Twitter famous, say you want to get to 10k followers
- Measurable – put a number to it eg instead of you wanting ‘more clients’ say that you want to gain 8 new clients, or even that you want to bring in £3k per month in revenue
- Achievable – is your goal actually realistic? Do you have the time, patience, effort, energy and resources to achieve it in the said timeframe or are you being unrealistically optimistic… or even thinking too little of yourself and your abilities!
- Recorded – how are you going to record the process towards your goal? For social media goals, using spreadsheets to track monthly trends in your metrics, is a great way to record the progress.
- Timed – put a timeframe to your goal. Are you achieving this in 1-3 months (short term), 3-6 months (medium-term) or in the year (long term), or even over multiple years?!?
Check out my 2022 Business Goals HERE to give you some inspo!
Step 6: Plan the process… but not too much
Now that you’ve got your goal, your timeframe, and exactly what you’re aiming for, make a plan! A plan can be everything from planning the monthly topic areas of your blogs, planning the posts you’re posting on Twitter for the whole of the month, or just putting reminders in your calendars to check up on your invoices and your current revenue. The best way is to separate your process into manageable chunks… and that’s different for everyone so try out different methods and see what works best for you!
Personally, I do all my short-term planning on an app called Asana – it helps me break down what I’m doing every single day so that my days are balanced and the tasks within it are prioritised. I draw up a medium-term content plan on a Word doc, then schedule time at the start of the month to collect and analyse the data from last month’s content, then to plan in what I’ll do the same and different this month.
What I’m trying to say is… Make a plan and stick to it but don’t stress if it doesn’t quite go that way. Time can be made.
Here’s a snippet from my Asana – showing how I separate all my plans (Freelancing Projects, Blogs, Social Media Strategy, Work etc), and then colour coordinate all the tasks based on priority and project category!
Step 7: GET IT IN YOUR HEAD THAT NOT EVERY DAY NEEDS TO BE ABOUT MAKING PROGRESS!!!
Watching social media in the first four days of the year is the worst thing I did this year. Whilst I love giving kudos to my friends that are really taking control of the New Year, starting their new goals strong, it gave me a serious FOMO feeling. I was celebrating the New Year in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Scotland, with my two best friends. I did no work. No personal progression. No training for my 2022 races. I have 3 whole days of good food, laughter, sightseeing, board games and creating special moments with special people. And that’s okay.
I repeat, THAT IS OKAY!
Not every day has to be about taking another step towards your goals. Sometimes a timeout can be just as beneficial… and yes, you are allowed to start to the year with a timeout. You don’t have to be signing any new clients, breaking any PBs, starting a new business straight away.
This might be the start of the year, but I doubt it’s the start of your hard work, or the start of your journey, so you don’t need to start with a bang! Equally, if you have, awesome!
Want an example, HERE is my personal 2021 analysis and 2022 strategy!