Why looking back moves your creative business forward in the new year

Why looking back moves your creative business forward in the new year from Dear Handmade Life

It’s the time of the year for resolutions, putting our best intentions into action, and setting goals for the year ahead. To help get your New Years’ projects and goals up to speed and set realistic goals for this year it’s important to take stock of what goals you accomplished last year then document, quantify, and share them as a way to remind yourself just how much you can accomplish in a year.

To make this reflection focused and helpful, imagine you are making a year end report for your business that you would present to your imaginary board of directors. While you may be used to tracking things like sales and revenue, take a moment to count other things you have accomplished with your business. How many people in different states or countries did you sell to? How many new customers, email signups, or social media followers did you add this year? Did you add any new features to your business, like starting a blog or launching a website? How many fairs or shows did you attend? Did your work get picked up by any boutiques or retail outlets? Did you speak at any conferences? Add up your contributions and organize them into groups.

Now present this information in an easily accessible manner. I made an infographic about the community ambassador program I run for my job at Shapeways using Piktochart, a free infographic software program. Infographics are great because you can easily translate your statistics into appealing looking icons, graphs, charts and maps. If your story is more visual, you could make a year end photo album to highlight what you’ve done. If you have testimonials from customers or clients, include the best ones in your report.

The advantage of making a short, visually punchy report is that it helps you focus on the bigger picture milestones, which can be lost in the day-to-day hustle of running a creative business. The milestones you identified will help you clearly think about what you want to accomplish in the year ahead. Do you want to grow your customer base? Find more opportunities to share and sell your work? Increase your geographical reach or maybe grow your presence locally? Having a good handle on the numbers and milestones also helps you understand what is realistic for the year ahead.

To further celebrate your success and the year ahead share this report or graphic on your blog or with your email list. It helps you and your community understand your business at a glance and helps show off all that you have done and opens the conversation of what’s next. Here’s to a productive, happy and healthy 2015!

What are some of your biggest accomplishments from 2014?

-Eleanor Whitney


Eleanor Callott Whitney is a writer, rock musician, educator, and arts administrator raised in Maine and living in Brooklyn. She finds joy in bringing order to the chaos of creativity, empowering artists with the tools they need to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and in managing and facilitating creative projects with panache. She is the author of Grow: How to take your DIY project and passion to the next level and quit your job! and writes extensively about art, culture and nonprofit management. She published the personal, art zine Indulgence for 15 years, as well as co-founded the Portland Zine Symposium and has worked for the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, and P.O.V./American Documentary. She is the proud recipient of a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College where she learned to stop worrying and love statistical and budgetary analysis.

eleanor whitney

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