4 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting New Year's Business Resolutions

  •    Danielle is a freelance writer with bylines in Teen Vogue, Esquire, Vice, and more and runs a blog, The Millennial Freelancer.

The new year will be here before you know it. Like many other solopreneurs, freelancers or small business owners you are likely already setting new business goals for 2018, but if not, consider this a gentle reminder.

Oftentimes, small business owners, freelancers and solopreneurs set unrealistic (and usually toxic) expectations for themselves, that ultimately lead shame and guilt. Fortunately, there are effective ways to make practical business goals without sacrificing your dreams.

When writing down your vision for the new year, avoid these common mistakes.

1. Don't “wing" it

The worst thing you can do is to not have an established plan. Even if you're new to owning a business of your own, you owe it yourself to set business goals.

Part of those goals include a detailed business plan. When I left my desk job to pursue freelance writing full-time half-way into the year, I thought it was superfluous to make a business plan since I was a novice, but that was an admittedly naive mistake. The following year, I doubled my income because I took a week to sit down and establish not just goals, but a vision for my business.

If you don't know where to start, check out How to Write a Business Plan and Why Every Solotrepenur Needs a Business Plan.

2. Don't aim high without thinking it through

When you think big, it's easy to say, “I want to make a six figures this year in profits," or “I want to sell out my entire inventory." While these are great visions to reach for, they are impractical to achieve if you don't identify the baby steps to get you there. SMART goals, for instance, explain that all goals should be: specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.

If you're a freelancer setting an income goal, you need to line up a series of well-paying recurring clients, so you'll develop a consistent income. Mridu Khullar Relph of the International Freelancer has a great blog post with more information about this strategy.

3. Don't settle, either

Sometimes, success means declining work opportunities. Whether it's an extremely low rate for a product or service, or a client who isn't worth your time, you need to learn the power of “no." When you accept work that is beneath your worth, that consumes work that would otherwise be equal to (or even above) your worth.

If you have trouble saying “no," especially to amicable and persuasive professionals, check out Fast Company's guide to saying “no."

4. Don't forget to schedule vacation time

When I first started my business, I planned “workcations," or planning my work schedule around traveling. This idea failed miserably, because I wasn't able to fully enjoy my time away from home and truly relax.

Vacations are completely necessary to sustain your energy in the long-run. So even though it feels like you have the drive and energy to relax, you need to let yourself rest when you can. Plus, you don't want to over schedule yourself in the event you catch an illness and don't have a backup plan when you're too unwell to work.

Whether you're ready for a fresh start or not, it's important to act now and dodge any of the mistakes above. Oftentimes, the biggest mistakes can be avoided just by having a plan.