Just because you don’t get a paycheck anymore doesn’t mean you can’t get stuck living paycheck-to-paycheck. In fact, your whole business can get caught operating paycheck-to-paycheck.

When you’re in the never-quite-enough cycle, no matter how much you want to grow your business and no matter how hard you’re willing to work, business growth can feel impossible. You’re always a little short on the money you need to invest in a sweet new design, a rockstar employee, or the applications that can make running your business easier. You’re also just a little short on the time you need to evolve your business model, leverage your services, and grow your platform.

I’ve tried to figure out what separates those who make the leap from never-quite-enoughness to abundance and growth with their businesses. And here’s what I’ve discovered:

You have to use what you want, not what you have, as your baseline.
Use what you want, not what you have, as your baseline.

That means you don’t figure out how to replace your day job salary, you make a plan to make 20% more. You don’t figure out how to get enough clients, you make a plan to have a waiting list. You don’t figure out what you need to price your offers at to pay yourself, you plan a pricing strategy that builds in profit.

That means part of planning for your business is getting clear on what you want:

  • Enough income and extra profit to take the summer off?
  • A team of talented co-conspirators who can help you serve your clients?
  • A website that truly represents the personality and quality of your business?
  • Tools that make your life easier?

If you want to take the summer off, make sure your plan has your business generating enough revenue in January-May, September-December. That changes the way you launch offers, plan partnerships, and schedule marketing activities.

If you want a team (or to grow your existing one), make sure your plan includes a pricing strategy that pays them. Put that extra labor budget into savings and you’ll have a cushion that makes you feel comfortable expanding.

If you want a new website, stop trying to piecemeal your solutions (i.e. spending unnecessary money) and find the credit you need to get one. Then make sure your plan includes how you’ll harness that website to payback the credit as quickly as possible.

If you want tools that make your life easier, make sure your plan makes it clear exactly what they need to do for you. That changes what you look for in new solutions so that you’re only investing in the ones that do what you need them to do.

Setting goals and stretching your comfort zone pays both strategic and tactical dividends. When you know what you want, you can make the business strategy decisions that help you get there. If you’re always focused on maintaining the status quo, you’ll be stuck there.

P.S. If you’re a maker or designer trying to get ahead in your own business, check out my Pricing Your Craft workshop on CreativeLive on August 17th. You can watch totally FREE while it’s live: RSVP here.