Setting Realistic Goals and Expectations for Your Freelance Business

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Written by Michael Foote, founder of Quote Goat, has over 13 years experience working in the finance, insurance and currency sectors.

Freelancers are responsible for their own business development. Much of this depends on skill and quality, as well as how you apply yourself to tasks and respond to responsibilities. Setting realistic and attainable goals is the key to business growth, as well as being one of the keys to productivity.

Understand Your Priorities

Only around 1 of 200 startups eventually succeed, so if you want better odds of riches and success, you really need to put in the hard work. Whether you are a designer, blogger or any other type of freelancer, it’s important to properly consider your own priorities and career direction. What is it that you want to achieve in the coming months? How can you best apply yourself and your resources in order to grow your business?

Freelancer goals may include:

Attracting clients – At first, you may want to attract a certain number, but later on you will probably want to focus more on attracting the right type of client.

Selling more products or services – You may want to focus on increasing your sales, whether by increased marketing, improved productivity or promotion.

Web presence and marketing – Expanding your web presence helps to bring prospects and customers to you, ultimately increasing the value of your business.

Increasing your income or value – Income-based goals are important in order to stay afloat and grow your business.

Finding work in favourable niches – It’s always enjoyable to work in niche areas that you actually enjoy. Once you have settled in with enough income, you could focus on building a portfolio in your favourite areas.

Setting SMART Goals

‘SMART’ is a famous acronym that can help you to set achievable and realistic goals. Once you understand your own priorities and the direction in which you want to take your freelance business, use this to make your goals more detailed and actionable.

Specific – Think about the five “Ws” of your goal. What are you doing, why are you doing this, who are you doing it with, when will it occur, and where will it take place? Make your goal more specific so that you can envision it clearly.

Measurable – Quantify your goals and make them measurable. This is where you ask yourself, “How much and how many?” If you want more income, how much do you want? If you are looking to gain more clients, how many prospects will you reach out to this month? You can also use analytic tools to measure outcomes.

Achievable – Be realistic about what you want to achieve. This tenet is not intended to limit you, but you need to be able to actually accomplish your goals. They need to be within the realm of possibility, given your position and resources. Do you have the required time, experience and finances?

Relevant – Make sure your goals are aligned with your personal growth and your professional development. Ask yourself whether your goals are worthwhile, will benefit your freelance business and help take your business in the right direction. Be sure that you can achieve your goals without breaching your own moral code.

Time-Based – Finally, make your goal time-based. Know when to start, what can be done now or daily, what can be achieved in a week or a month, and where you expect to be in six months.

Milestones and Actions

When setting long-term goals, you will need to break them down into smaller milestones and steps that you can achieve. Think of this like “little goals” within your larger overall aims, and once again apply the SMART strategy to goal-setting.

You will need to evaluate and adjust your goals regularly so that they do not define or confine you. When you achieve goals, you should set new ones. If you are ahead of or behind schedule, then readjust accordingly. If new information or factors come into play, then see if this affects your business direction.

Setting goals really is half of the battle. With solid and realistic goals in place, you know what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it. Next, you need action! You need to work on your goals every day to make sure they come to fruition.


As with any other business, you may need to have the correct insurance in place to cover you for unforeseen circumstances. An obvious example of this would be if you are a freelance taxi driver, you will of course need to have taxi insurance in place. However the need for insurance is not always so obvious, so we would recommend you do your research into the various types of cover you may require including professional indemnity, office insurance and public liability insurance.