Business advice often goes a little something like this: Think about where you want to be in five or ten years, then work towards making it happen.

That sure sounds nice. But, like most advice, it’s much easier said than done. For web designers and developers, long-term goals often take a back seat to what’s directly in front of us.

And when you finally get through that pile of work sitting in your inbox, the future may be the least of your concerns. Who even has time to worry about (or plan) for such things?

As tough as it all sounds, having some long-term goals is still very important. You need them to keep growing and evolve along with the web. With that, the following are some ways to help you home in on the future of your design business.

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Stop Thinking of the Present as an Emergency

Sure, there are real web design emergencies. Broken websites and other rush jobs require your total attention. But most everything else we do isn’t in that category.

Yet it’s easy to see things that way. An unfulfilled to-do list can get your heart, mind and fingers racing. It’s both a noble pursuit and a trap for your business strategy.

Why? Because it’s a vicious cycle that will be repeated over and over again. Just as you scratch one task off your list, another will take its place. This is a game that none of us can win.

Learning to manage your time might just be the first step towards planning for the future. By setting aside an hour or two per month to develop goals and strategies for achieving them, you will begin to think differently about running your business.

After all, you can’t very well achieve your goals if you haven’t even defined them or have a plan to do so.

Emergency Sign

Set Realistic Goals for Your Web Design Business

Once you get into the nitty-gritty of setting goals, consider how difficult they will be to attain. And be careful what you wish for. While it’s fun to dream big, doing so might actually work against you.

Lofty goals (becoming a millionaire, winning awards, etc.) can seem tempting. However, working toward those ideals are a wakeup call. You’ll find that these types of goals often seem completely out of reach. Thus, you might end up abandoning them altogether.

In order to stay focused, set goals that are realistic. For example, look to increase your revenue by at least 5% next year, rather than declaring that you want to double it. This will give you something reasonable to aim for, while not limiting your potential.

If and when you reach a particular goal, you’ll benefit from a mental boost as well. Knowing that you were able to set your mind to something and then achieve it breeds confidence. Each time you mark something off your list, you’ll know that you can conquer even more challenges down the road.

A telescope.

Take Setbacks in Stride

Every web design business will encounter some setbacks. It could take the form of losing a client, making a costly mistake or falling into a creative slump. They are all a part of the entrepreneurial experience.

These situations tend to knock us off course. Goals are put on hold while we’re busy cleaning up whatever mess we find ourselves in.

But this may be when goals are most needed. They provide us with something to cling to, even in tough times. Having a plan to work towards offers perspective and a way to start moving forward again.

Therefore, when an unexpected obstacle appears – take it in stride. Deal with it as best you can and don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve.

The great thing here is that nothing is set in stone. A goal can always be adjusted if need be. And most setbacks are only temporary.

A sign that reads: And Breathe.

Keep Your Long-Term Goals in Mind

Running a business often means dividing your focus. There are immediate needs like design, development and client relationships. Then there are the big picture items that define where you want to go. Keeping an eye on it all can be difficult – especially with so much right in front of you.

The irony is that long-term goals are what ensures that your design business will still be around years from now. That’s why it’s crucial to dedicate some time and energy towards maintaining them.

Doing so will help to keep you on the right path and enable you to think beyond the present. It’s one of the keys to having a successful career in web design.

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