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I started thinking about my goals for this year at the end of 2018, of course, like everyone does. At the time I wasn't planning to do a lot, I actually wanted to take it easy for six months or so. But then it's the second week of January and suddenly I have this huge influx of business. It hasn't really slowed down yet, either. On average, I'm getting a new client every two weeks. I'm not even seeking it out, I'm just getting a lot of referrals from my network.
With all these changes, I've shifted my goals for 2019. While I didn't start the year looking for new clients, I did do want to turn down new opportunities and extra money. So instead of sticking with my original goals for 2019, I came up with new ones.
My 2019 Business Goals
While having more business is great, it does add pressure in terms of time management. To make things even more difficult, I've been in Malaysia for the last few months and most of my clients are in Europe and North America. I try to be very flexible for my clients, and often work my sleep schedule in around meetings. But in the long-term it's far more efficient for me to be in a time zone that is more in sync with my clients. So one of my top goals is to go back to Europe, or Mexico!
So my top goal on the business side is to have better time management for all my clients. Leaving Asia is the first step, but right now I just don't have a lot of organization around what I work on when. In their eyes, I'm available 24-7. Being online at odd hours and doing a high volume of work can definitely lead to confusion and inefficiencies. Sometimes I write the wrong name when replying to emails! Luckily I always catch it before I hit send, but it's not a good thing to make those kinds of mistakes.
To meet this goal, I am going to experiment with setting up specific time slots to work with each client. I may say, Monday and Wednesday I work on Client A and Tuesday and Thursday I work on Client B. If I do this, I will also set expectations with clients on when I am available to talk with them. There are lots of ways to organize your time as an independent consultant. I am looking forward to experimenting with them and finding some new processes that help me be more efficient.
My 2019 Personal Goals
With work being so busy, it's been hard to get enough sleep and generally maintain my health. That has to change.
One reason things have been so busy is that I am in the middle of hiring my first full-time employee. I have been looking for a full-time videographer who can follow me around and provide me with content that I can share on social media. I want to be able to document whatever I'm doing and use that content to help me have a better presence online, mainly on Instagram.
The second goal, and this ties into it, is I want to have a personal trainer. I want to do more in terms of going to the gym and stuff. As I mentioned, my health has taken a back seat as I've been so busy with work. I don't want it to be like that, I want to invest in my own well-being so I have the health and the energy to do my job well. So I decided that my ideal videographer would also have the skill to train me at the gym and help me take care of my diet. I know it's a lot to ask, in terms of skills that one person might have. But I've found a good candidate, he does have the qualification and the experience so I'm going to try that with him and see where it goes.
Goals That Are a Bit of Both
In addition to working on my personal brand, I want to increase my brand visibility by booking speaking gigs. This doesn't really fall into one category or the other. I want to speak more so I can become more comfortable in a crowd, which is a personal goal. And it's good for me in business, because I can benefit from that kind of exposure. I am still not actively looking for clients, but I always want to build my brand and connections. Ultimately, I want people to think of me and refer me when they encounter someone who needs SEO.
Speaking is a very important skill. I have done a good job of pushing myself to do it in the past, and I want to continue working on that. Last summer I gave a talk on the Benefits of Remote Work in Mexico City and I've also done a few interviews, including this one on What Makes a Successful Remote Worker with Hacker Paradise.
Learning how to find good speaking gigs is also part of the goal. In the past I have found them just by people just recommending me, or reaching out to me randomly. I haven't actively pitched anything yet, but I plan to look at smaller SEO meetups or conferences. I may organize my own meetup and talk about SEO. My new trainer/videographer is also very good at managing events, so it's something he could help me with too.
Finding the right person to be my videographer/trainer/health consultant was not easy. Most people who are good at this stuff are not really looking for jobs, so you really have to tap into your network to find candidates. The guy I found is the brother of my very good friend back home in Malaysia. One of the reasons I want to hire someone within my circle of friends, is because these roles are somewhat of a personal job so I definitely want to have someone I can trust. I already know and trust his family, so this was clearly a good direction to go. He is is going to be traveling with me 24-7, so it's important that I trust him and that we have a good rapport.
Especially because part of his job is to hold me accountable. For example, it can be easy to avoid going to the gym. But it's harder to avoid it when you have someone physically in front of your face saying, "What the fuck are you doing just sitting there? It's time to go workout."
For me, I perceive him like my best buddy. We speak very openly. Technically it's an employee relationship, but the trust I have for him makes it less formal. I will still be traveling and working remotely, and he will be coming along with me. I will still be the one making decisions on where we go. He can make suggestions and I will listen and consider. But it is still up to me, and he is someone I trust so I don't really mind. I don't feel like I have to behave myself in front of this employee.
For me it's an interesting time in terms of personal and professional growth. I am excited to make even more progress on these goals, and I think it's an interesting time to have someone documenting things. There is sure to be some change this year, so stay tuned to see what other interesting things and opportunities come up.
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