It’s a brand spanking new year! Time to set some goals.

SMART-goals

The beginning of a new year is always an interesting time.  You are often feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and excited about the year ahead, and perhaps also inspired to think about what you want to accomplish.  It is also a time of reflection on the year that has passed.  Did you accomplish what you had set out to do? Did something in your business work well that you’d like to duplicate? Did something not go as planned, and you’d like to make an adjustment for the future?

Heidi and I held an all day strategy session on Monday where we discussed some goals for PH for 2015.  We have been working with a business coach to help us develop a more comprehensive plan for our company, and we had lots of homework to do and many items to discuss!  We didn’t get through it all in one day (we have another session set for next week!) but overall I’m happy that we are making progress as I’m a huge believer in setting goals and then checking in and tweaking as you go.

Someone special in my life has ingrained in me since I was young “if you don’t have goals, you won’t get where you want to go”. It’s a philosophy that when I was younger I didn’t give much credit to, but now as I grow and develop as a person, mother and business owner, I truly feel the significance of these simple words and I try to live by them.

Whether it’s setting a simple goal such as getting a task accomplished by the end of the day, a more ambitious goal like wanting to train for a marathon, or something more complex like setting strategic long term goals for your organization, without setting the goal in the first place how would you ever be able to set out on the path to achieving it??

Given that it’s the beginning of the year, we thought it might be a good time to pass along some tips on how to go about setting good, tangible goals. Before you even get started, it’s important that you are first feeling motivated to set, and reach, these goals. Without this motivation, you are likely to fall back into old habits or lose sight of the end goal.  Try to think about what the benefit of reaching these goals will be: building your business, making more money, or freeing up time to spend with your family because you have successfully delegated some tasks to other people or other companies.

Feeling motivated? Here is a how-to process for setting goals, and it all starts with 5 simple letters: SMART.

All goals must be S.M.A.R.T.

1. Specific – Clearly define what you want to accomplish.
Is it specific? Have you clearly stated what you wish to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish this goal? Also ask yourself why this goal is important to you? It is sometimes easiest to start with a general goal or objective and then move into the finer details or specific tasks that might be needed to accomplish the larger goal.

2. Measurable – Identify targets and milestones to track your progress.
Is it measurable? If you have not made it measurable and set yourself clear targets and milestones, you will have no way of checking to see if you are going in the right direction. It can be very frustrating to find that you have ploughed ahead on a series of tasks only to discover that you should have made a course correction weeks back.

3. Attainable – Your goal is realistic and manageable.
Is it attainable? Make sure you give yourself the opportunity to reach the goal. You could break each goal down into smaller tasks and make sure you have the time and resources available to meet the timeline you have set for yourself. Setting unrealistic goals will only set you up for failure, and nothing is more defeating then never attaining your goals.

4. Relevant – Identify a goal that fits with your business or overall philosophy.
Is your goal relevant? Your goal should fit with your business, your mission statement if you have one, or your market, client base or industry.

5. Time-Based – Identify a specific period of time for the goal.
Does your goal need to be achieved by a certain date? Make sure that you set a realistic time-frame for your goal, and you must set a deadline!  It is often tempting to leave a goal open-ended, but the danger is that you will never actually achieve it and then give up because it hasn’t worked or because you’ve now decided that goal setting is a waste of time!

What sorts of goals might be appropriate for your business?

• Writing a business plan – it doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but it is important to make sure that you are not setting yourself up for failure.

• Ways to improve your bottom line – whether it be ways to increase profitability or ways to reduce your company costs, or looking at ways to improve your cash flow.

• Becoming more productive – this is very important for small business owners. Learn how to use your time efficiently and effectively. There are many tasks that, although not profit centre activities, directly affect your ability to become profitable as they take you away from core business functions (for example manually doing your payroll each month).

• Making use of technology – there are many free or economical programs on the market these days which can be used to assist with aspects such as accounting, billing, and task management.  These programs can greatly reduce admin time, giving you the opportunity to concentrate on your core business goals.

We hope that this inspires you to set a meeting with your company’s key players, your employees, or maybe even your family, to set some SMART goals for 2015.  We wish you the best of luck in setting and achieving these goals, whatever they may be!

Project Spotlight: Westbourne Projects Rebrand

Westbourne_BusinessCardsWe recently created a new visual identity for a dear colleague of mine. This type of work for me means swirling concepts around in my head and on paper for extended periods of time, seeking inspiration from all types of sources, and then trying to channel everything into a tangible solution. In this case, I knew that the new visuals had to demonstrate integrity, reliability & trust, as he’s a talented project manager who consistently delivers outstanding service. It also had to be modern and fresh, and more polished than his existing business card and identity.

When speaking with my colleague, he shared with me the history behind his company’s name, Westbourne, which came from his desire to convey his geographic location on the West coast in combination with a place of personal significance, the River Westbourne, which used to flow through Chelsea and out into the Thames. The River Westbourne needed to be diverted underground in order to make way for development; however, it still runs through the city and out of a pipe suspended over the Sloan Square tube station. This bold symbol of engineering ingenuity, along with the persistence of the river, parallels the character of the company he wanted to create.

River Westbourne now runs through a large pipe suspended over the Sloane Square tube station, London.

River Westbourne now runs through a large pipe suspended over the Sloane Square tube station, London.

Our approach to this project included exploring ways to incorporate the river into the visual icon for the company, in combination with construction iconography to reflect the type of work that Wesbourne does, in order to create something solid and lasting that potential Westbourne clients could identify with. After many iterations, following a thorough and thoughtful process, we turned away from the river imagery and created instead a simple yet elegant building form paired with simple and clean typography, and chose a modern yet sophisticated shade of blue to complete the brand. We designed business cards and letterhead, and in time we will roll out additional stationery and branded materials for Westbourne as needed.

Business card and letterhead designs.

Business card and letterhead designs.

The second phase of the project was the creation of a website, as Westbourne had no online presence. Again we wanted to demonstrate the same tone of integrity, reliability & trust within a modern, professional, and responsive website that would showcase the high quality projects that have been managed by the owner of Westbourne Projects Limited.

A new, fresh website for Westbourne Projects Ltd.

A new, fresh website for Westbourne Projects Ltd.

Our client was very happy with both the end results as well as the creative process, and so were we. Project House is thrilled when we can channel our experience, talent, and passion into delivery of a high-quality project that satisfies our clients’ business needs.

A Letter to Myself

person writing a letter

Just over a year ago, Crystal and I joined forces to create Project House. Our goal was to launch a company for us, and for other women like us, in order to use our skills, energy, and experience to help other businesses focus on what they do best. We also wanted to create opportunities and connections for others and to give back to our community, including women, local businesses, and other entrepreneurs.

Six months ago, I had the great fortune to take part in Minerva’s Learning to Lead weekend as a Community Leader. The weekend was full of discovery, partnership, inspiration, and hard work, and I loved every moment of it. At the end of the weekend, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves, capturing our hopes + goals for our “future selves”. The letter was sealed and kept on our behalf for 6 months, then mailed back to us. Last week, my letter arrived, and this is what it says:

Dear Heidi,

What an exciting, amazing year!
I’m so proud of you for embracing your dreams and for not giving in to fear.

I’m sure by now your business has grown and evolved, and I’m sure you’ve refocused in response to that change and evolution. Please don’t forget to celebrate all of the little successes as well as the big ones, and try not to sweat the small stuff or obsess over your mistakes. Keep learning + pushing forward, keep taking risks and following your heart, and I know everything will (and has so far) work(ed) out the way it’s supposed to.

Your clients appreciate you and refer you to other like-minded businesses. You have learned how to say no. You have figured out how to offload the tasks that you hate. :o)   You are clear about your values and PH’s values, and you are living these harmoniously and successfully.

You are travelling more.

You are seeing the rewards for risks taken.

You are more energized.

You sleep more.

You are more in love with yourself, your family + your friends than ever before.

You are recognized for your spirit, skills, and success by your community, but mostly by yourself first.

You have accepted the things you can’t change, and you are pursuing the rest like a graceful, beautiful bat out of hell.

I love you.
Heidi

When this letter arrived, I had honestly forgotten all about it, and had no recollection of what I’d written. I was so pleasantly struck by the positive and caring tone of the letter, and by how excited the “me of then” was to encourage the “current me”. Obviously not all of these things have come true yet (sleep more?!), but I can appreciate that committing these goals to paper has given me a subconscious path to follow and re-find, should I wander off course.

Hey, it’s a new year. What would your letter to yourself look like? This is an easy way to try: Write a letter to yourself that contains a list of goals or objectives, in whatever format or language suits you. Seal it in an envelope, tuck it into your calendar on a page six months from now, and forget about it. In six months, read it and think about what you accomplished, where you met your goals, and where your goals changed or evolved. What steps did you take to get closer to what you wanted? What surprises you about what you wrote to yourself? And what would your next letter say?