As I approach the 14th year running my own business, I am practicing what I preach, creating a marketing and business development plan for the new year.

Writing my own marketing plan is SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT than doing the same for my clients. Why? Because it’s much easier to see the forest from the trees when it’s not your forest and they aren’t your trees!

But I’m pushing through. As I do, I realize – again – that when you run your own company (or department or team), you must also step back and analyze yourself. Success and growth in business is as much an inside job as an outside one.

So, in addition to analyzing numbers and outlining Thrive PR’s goals, target markets and action steps, I’m making myself dig deeper to answer questions about myself …

Beyond Revenue Goals
Beyond gross and net revenue goals, what else do I want for my business next year? In the next 5 years? Do I want to grow the company in size and scope? Do I want to narrow our focus?

As for me, how do I want to grow as a person and a professional in the coming years? Where can I improve? What strengths am I not fully utilizing?

Asking myself these kinds of questions – and giving myself quiet time to reflect and answer them – I’ve gained several insights, including:

• Among the things I cherish most about owning my own business are my relationships with my clients and colleagues. I am proud that many of Thrive PR’s clients have been with us for 5-10 years. With longevity, however, can come complacency – on our part and the clients’. We can easily slip into not meeting as often as we did in the early years, scope creep and doing things the way we’ve always done them. So, one of my goals for the new year is to approach each client as if they’re brand new, looking at them through a fresh lens.

• As I look back on my career so far – from my corporate America days to my 6-year stint as the PR/Marketing Director for a management consulting firm to the last 14 running Thrive – I’ve realized that I love new challenges. In fact, I thrive on them (pun intended). So, another goal I’ve set for 2017 is to challenge myself more and push myself outside my comfort zone in a variety of ways (from speaking opportunities to professional development to new projects and opportunities).

What about you? In addition to revenue goals, what are your objectives for yourself and your business next year? How do you want to grow?

Beyond the Basics
In the wake of the dot-com bubble bust, I was laid off shortly before Christmas in 2002. Not long after, I started Thrive PR. My “why” at the time was simple and crystal clear: to pay my mortgage, keep the lights on and put food on the table.

As I moved from survival mode to thrive mode (pun intended, again), Thrive PR’s mission evolved and moved beyond Maslow’s lowest hierarchy of needs. Our why became: to spread the word about our clients’ awesome products and services to help their companies grow.

But beyond the basics … and beyond my company’s mission, what is my personal why?

I haven’t won the lottery yet, so the basic needs (food, shelter, warmth) are still there, joined by needs and wants like kids’ college expenses, health insurance, retirement savings and a love for eating out.

I could cover those needs working in corporate America again. So, why do I run my own business instead? Specifically, why Thrive PR?

I wish I could report that the answers I came up with are lofty or prophetic. However, they’re all things my mom could have told you about me when I was a kid: I get bored easily, I love to write, I am passionate about causes I believe in, deadlines motivate me and I like being my own boss.

In other words, I have created my own dream job. I can’t possibly get bored (we work with clients across a wide array of industries); I get to, basically, write for a living; I love promoting clients I believe in; I work well on deadline and I get to be my own boss (kind of).

What is YOUR why? Why do you run your own business?

Favorite Things
When we run our own business, we wear many hats – from CEO to janitor and various roles in between (typically at the same time). It can seem like a luxury to stop and take time to plan, dream and ask ourselves things like – which clients do I enjoy the most and what’s my favorite work?

This year, I made myself analyze the work I do. What makes the work itself enjoyable for me? Is it the client? The industry? The task?

What I learned is that my favorite work is:
• Collaborative
• Creative
• Challenging
• Impactful
• Appreciated

Another goal for 2017? Do more work that fits the description above!

What is YOUR favorite work? Why?

Write Your Way to Your Dreams
When I was only a year into my career, working as a competitive analyst for Sprint in Kansas City, I wrote down that within 3 years, I wanted to work in product marketing. Guess what? Two years later, at home on maternity leave with my first baby, I received a call offering me a new job within the company … in product marketing!

Since then, I have made a habit of writing down my goals toward the end of each year. Sometimes, I don’t have a plan to make them happen; sometimes I do. Either way, I get them on paper.

I encourage you to write down all your answers to the questions above. I can’t promise it will make all your dreams come true, but I can promise that it will provide some clarity and increase the chances of your goals becoming a reality.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2017!