Top 5 Tips to Take 2015 by the Horns!

ilise-new-headshot-bug-1-11One of the most amazing things that has come out of the Creative Freelancer Conference is the Designers Roundtable, an accountability group for creative solopreneurs that is the brainchild of Jenny Poff. She was inspired after her first CFC/HOW Design Live experience to satisfy her need for camaraderie and accountability. The group taken on a life of its own, as all good ideas do, and has evolved into a membership organization that has a new session starting in early 2015. Plus, members get an exclusive discount on HOW Design Live 2015, May 4-8 in Chicago.

Here are a few tips for the new year, from Jenny Poff, Founder and Facilitator of the Designers Roundtable:


As I reflect back on 2014 I thought I’d share my top 5 tips to get ready to take 2015 by the horns for a prosperous and rewarding new year!

  1. Declare your goals – No matter how big or small your design business is, you should set goals. Maybe it’s to gain 3 new clients, read 2 new professional development books, clean up your contracts, make 15% more money, etc. Having clarity in growing your business means you will stay focused and growth will be easier. Here’s a sample of some goals to consider.
  • Sell ___ logos @ $_____ = $_______ for the year
  • Sell _____ creative package @ $______ each = $______ for the year
  • Attend _____ networking events per month and collect ____ business cards each time
  • Gain ____ new clients per year = $_____ for the year

shutterstock_190572977You can take them a step further and break them down into weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual to help set benchmarks for completing them. You will feel a sense of accomplishment when you track your success.

  1. Hang them up – Now that you’ve declared your goals, don’t let them get lost in your digital files, or buried in a journal. Print your goals out and hang them in your office where you can focus on them each day. You’ll be amazed at how these goals will act as your vision board and keep you motivated.
  2. Let go of the fear – Quantifying growth can be challenging, trying a new niche can be terrifying, entering a new market can cause anxiety, but – if that’s where your passion is, where your heart gets all warm and fuzzy – then you have to let go of the fear and take a leap. Especially when you know the end will make you a better business owner and a fulfilled creative. Try reading the “War of Art” by Steven Pressfield over the holidays (it’s an easy read) and learn how to recognize resistances (roadblocks & frustrations) to tackle through them. You’ll be impressed to see how far you can grow personally and professionally, and how much easier it is to tackle them the next time.
  3. Take time for you – My word for 2015 is “Balance.” Balance work and life, balance personal and professional, balance growth of quantity and quality, etc. Life is a balancing act and my goal for 2015 will be to work harder on making sure I set aside enough family time with no technology (a.k.a. work) to distract me from these precious moments. So make sure you set some time aside to focus on staying healthy and happy. Those recharge moments will go a long way. (This practice of self-care time was inspired my personal creative business coach, RaShelle Roberts)
  4. Don’t do it alone – Get out of your home office or cubicle. As solos we’re alone when we’re not working directly with vendors and clients. Find an accountability partner or group who understands your industry, who can help you stay focused on your goals, and help keep you motivated to make 2015 a great year for your business. You don’t have to grow your business alone when you have solo-preneurs that share the same vision, tasks, frustrations, successes, and growth, just like you.

Over the past 2 years I have watched incredible creatives of the Designers Roundtable, an international accountability group for solo creative business owners, grow in confidence and take ownership and pride in running their business.

This isn’t just coffee talk, this is brainstorming with no filter — raw and dirty topics that we’re afraid to address publically. This private group doesn’t sensor or record conversations, allowing the freedom and safety to dig deep into hot topics like gorilla clients, clarity, pricing, contracts, hiring, marketing, balancing and more.

 “Being involved in the Designers Roundtable is priceless and I’ve grown personally and professionally from being associated and involved with this sought-after group. Creative entrepreneurs, with various years of business experience, come together to glean valuable skills, support and accountability from each other. It’s rare to find such a strong, talented, positive group you can trust for up-to-date relevant mentorship.” – Damien Golden, iKANDE Advertising

In our monthly video conference sessions, each member has the spotlight to address their past month of successes and challenges of their business development. By utilizing the private Facebook group in between monthly sessions, Designers Roundtable members are able to gain advise, suggestions, referrals, references, resources, and more, providing real time answers, tips, and value.

“The Designer’s Roundtable is the industry water cooler talk my business was desperately needing. Building this network of designers has helped me grow much faster and in the right direction than I otherwise would have… With Jenny’s coaching and vision, we have each grown leaps and bounds over the past few years in our individual businesses. Much more than we would’ve done alone. She has an innate ability to keep everyone on task and still encourage us to dream and think bigger!” ~ Cassie Brkich, Brkich Design

So often we get too focused on doing client work and cranking out invoices, which are necessary. But we need to take time out to focus on ourselves and our business. The Designers Roundtable is the perfect way to commit and grow your business with support right by your side. Consider the DESIGNERS ROUNDTABLE as the stepping stone to professional coaching, a way of being held accountable so you can focus and prioritize your tasks that otherwise would get lost in the pile of post its.

“At the end of 2013, I stumbled upon some information about a group that Jenny created called The Designers Roundtable. I decided to join and it’s been one of the best things I could have done for my business. Jenny has been able to organize about 20 designers to video conference multiple times a month and remain accountable to our individual large and small term goals that she formally has us submit to her every 6 months. Jenny starts out each meeting with an overview of what our discussion will entail and asks us to think about answering three questions in relation to our goals – 1. successes, 2. struggles and 3. where we need support. It’s through this formal accountability that I have gained confidence, better clients and a support group of amazing creative solo professionals. In between meetings, we check in on our private Facebook group where we can ask each other the day-to-day questions about technology, printing, clients and more. Jenny keeps all this, along with our website and file sharing, organized and available to all the members. Jenny not only recognized a need for solo creative professionals, but was also able to fulfill it and deliver on her creation of The Designers Roundtable. THANK YOU, JENNY!” ~ Gina Morin, Design Intervention

Want to be part of it?

  1. Are you ready to grow? Learn all about our private accountability group and how it will help you focus on your business and grow.
  2. Establish your 6-month goal. What do you want to get off your business to-do list within the next 6 months? Re-design your website? Gain 3 more clients? Increase your revenue by 15%? Start marketing and prospecting? Once you’ve determined your goal, complete the Membership Application. (Deadline for the Jan-June term is Dec. 20)
  3. You will then receive information on how to access our private community. Including our very useful private Facebook group and membership site.
  4. Group assignments will be distributed approximate 2 weeks prior to the start of the term. Make sure you mark your calendars.
  5. Attend all six monthly sessions and benefit from all the support of our dynamic group!

How to be a great DR Member

  1. Come prepared to each session with: your 30-day task assignment, successes (we need to take time to celebrate ourselves!), challenges and where we are in need of support to accomplish our tasks and goals.
  2. Share resources with other members: favorite websites, articles, publications, vendors, etc.
  3. We see a lot of success when team members become friends and have one-on-one conversations outside of our normal sessions. We all become one big happy family and find an overwhelming amount of value from every member.

“I’ve been working with Jenny and the Designers Roundtable for well over a year now. I admire her ability to motivate and hold each member accountable for their goals and desires. I’ve had the pleasure of coaching many of the DR members and witness how each person has flourished under Jenny’s leadership. I love what she is doing for the design community and how she’s helping each business owner thrive.” – RaShelle Roberts, Creative Coach

If you’re interested in joining the Designers Roundtable community, please visit our website Registration for the next 6-month term ends on Dec. 20 and available spots for the sessions are running out.

Need to test drive? Contact Jenny for a meet and great to see if this group is what you’re business is anxious to have – or

By Thomas Vogel

Breakthrough Thinking by Thomas Vogel is a guide to developing effective creative thinking skills, and applying them to challenges in the competitive business environment. Whether you struggle with the brainstorming process or problem solving, or just want to further shape your creative process, discover techniques and exercises that will help you develop a more flexible thought process. Plus, with industry examples from successful creative professionals and top creative organizations, you’ll be able to utilize several effective models of creativity to boost the performance of your own. In a constantly developing economy innovation is key, so utilize the principles and examples presented in this book and tap into your creative potential! Get it here.