Don't Ignore Monthly Goals, Either
Pushing additional revenue needs into a following month is fine if the amount is small. But the larger a deficit you try to cover, the more difficult your task becomes. Now you've committed yourself to longer hours and more work just to get back on track. The key is percentage by which you misss your goal. If you're down by a few percent, that probably isn't going to be impossibly difficult to attain. Hit 15 or 20 percent, and you're working some longer weeks; 50 percent, and you might be giving up sleep.
You might need to spread a large enough deficit over several months, but what happens if you have another off month? Or if you're crowding the end of the year and you want to hit your annual goal? You may have set yourself up to solve a problem that you cannot.
If you find yourself missing a monthly goal, don't panic, but do see what you can learn from it:
- Have you fallen short because of an unexpected event? Consider whether it really was a something that you could not have forseen, or if you might be essentially lying to yourself through overly optimistic estimations of the likelihood of closing business.
- Does your goal show unrealistic expectations for the markets and types of work that you've chosen to do? If so, you must revisit either your business model or your expectations.
- Are you working hard enough in marketing and selling? If not, the work won't come in. You should be pitching to get more business than you need, because not all of your marketing will turn into assignments.
- Are you working hard enough to finish the assignments? It doesn't matter if you've got an assignment; it won't help you meet a monthly goal if you don't finish in time to invoice during that month.
- In a similar vein, are you being realistic in the amount of work you can complete in a month, and how long it will take to do each assignment? If you find that important parts of your goal are going to be done right at the end of the month, assume that the schedule could slip and your revenue could slide out of one month and into another. That's not a big problem (assuming that the client is fine with the change) if you're finished at the beginning of the next month, but let it go too far and you'll be bumping revenue for that month as well, creating a situation where you cannot catch up by earning more than your goal.