Tools + How-Tos

Steps to Plan Your Best Year in Business Yet

February 12, 2020


I'm a full-time artist and online educator. You can find my watercolor designs on products all around the globe. This blog is where I share all of my latest art business tips for you!


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It can be overwhelming to plan for the year ahead and not know which goals are going to be the most successful for your business. There are so MANY possibilities at your feet, so how do you know which ones to pursue? 

I have some thoughts for you today on how to hone in, strategically, on your most important annual goals. Let’s make this year your best year in business yet!

You can’t do it all. 

We all want to be able to do it all, but the reality is that especially as small business owners, our time, energy, and resources are limited. Here’s a little exercise to help you find some clarity. 

Quickly jot down the full list of every single project or goal you want done this year, no matter how small or big. 

Now, go through your list and circle the most important projects to you or the ones you are most excited about. Do this based on a quick, gut feeling. Then, go back through and cross out the ones you aren’t excited about. We all have things on our list that we feel like we SHOULD be doing, but they don’t exactly get us going in the morning. Even if you feel like you should still be doing them (and maybe you will anyway), cross them out for the sake of this exercise. Are you surprised at what you crossed out? I was! See below. 

You’ll end up with the projects that are most significant to you (circled), the middle ground projects that you can complete if you have time (not circled and not crossed out), and the projects you may want to cut first for the sake of time (crossed out). 

It’s feeling better and more doable, and more FUN, already, right? 

Look at past data. 

If you’re going into at least your second year in business, you’ll have some data you can take a look at from the past year. It is key to study this information to help you make informed decisions. Here are some questions you can ask yourself. Make sure you actually write your answers down based on real numbers and not just guesses!

• Which revenue stream or product was most successful last year, sales-wise?
• Which revenue stream bought in the highest profit? Total revenue/sales minus expenses=profit
Which revenue stream brought in the least profit? Note: sales can be high but profit can still be low depending on your expenses!
Which revenue stream or project cost you the most time or energy? 
• Which felt effortless and fun?
• Make a note of your busiest and slowest months. 

If this is your first year in business, you can be a step ahead! Think of these questions as you release your products and services this year, and make notes on your progress in real-time. 

Write your annual timeline. 

Believe it or not, it took me a couple of years into business before I actually started writing down my annual timeline. I knew my goals for the year, but I didn’t have an action plan for them with a big-picture mindset. 

Get a big sheet of paper or a whiteboard, and draw boxes for each month. Write in your non-negotiables first. This includes personal events you can’t miss and holiday time off. Add in trips and conferences. 

Then, write in your biggest releases, new service offerings, or promotions. Will you be offering these on a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly basis?

Next, include your weekly and/or daily tasks. These smaller tasks may seem negligible, but they take up your precious time and energy, too.

Finally, buffer in some blank time in case you are approached with a project you can’t miss (make sure it’s worth it!) or simply want some time off with nothing planned (even vacations). 

Looking at your year ahead in this way will help you make careful scheduling decisions all year long. You’ll start to learn about yourself and what you can really handle, not just what you think you should be able to handle. For example, if I have a trip or conference planned in one month, I won’t plan a big release or promotion that same month for my own mental health and focus.

Happy 2020 planning, and here’s to making this your most successful year yet!

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  1. Erin says:

    Hello Juliet!

    I love your work and thank you for your classes on Skillshare! I am in my first year with starting my creative business and I’m very excited about it. Do you recommend any specific conferences?

    Thank you!

    • Juliet Meeks says:

      Erin –

      That’s so exciting! Congrats!

      I’m not sure of your specific niche, but all I would suggest is that no matter what you definitely find one to attend! I started by going to local conferences and workshops which was much more affordable for me when I was just starting out. I enjoyed Camp Minted a couple years back. Or you can also join a mastermind which usually ends with an in-person meeting – that was the last “conference” I attended.

      Let us know which one you end up at and how you like it!!


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