Preparing ourselves for the business year

I am sitting in a peaceful retreat with family on the last few days of a Christmas/New Year gathering. Hiding myself in a corner I am starting my new year business planning, and I thought I’d share my process…in case it is useful.

As well as being a business coach for arts, small business and health/wellness practitioners, I have my own business coach who will want to know what my goals or affirmations are for the year. I look at each aspect of my work portfolio first – the different ways in which I can earn funds and use my time wisely each month of the year. Some things (like lecturing for Mountview from September) I have in the diary already. Some things (like my gathering of coaching clients) is speculative based on my success at the end of 2014 and hopes for 2015. And some things are new goals/affirmations – speculative at the moment.

I will be putting out to the universe my availability and desire to work in these areas, and get myself out there to find some opportunities. [There’s quite a lot about this area of promoting yourself in “Your Life in Theatre” including the 3 advert exercise which I use a lot for myself and coaching clients – and wow it can work powerfully]

Next I take my diary (real paper book for me, maybe phone or electronic for you) and I mark off some days each month for me and my business. I set aside half a day a month to review my coaching clients and billing. I set aside a day every month to do my accounts and make sure I offer myself a treat when I have completed and balanced my personal and business accounts – not my favourite task.   Treats are very important. I love getting email pics through from my clients showing a particularly amazing cake, or a lovely view of a long leisurely walk, that they have awarded themselves when a particularly tough task is completed.

I am currently reading “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron which a lot of my clients and artistic colleagues use to support their practice and creative development. She talks of choosing a day a week when you have a date with yourself “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.”. I will be taking this part of her guidance to heart, and will be checking in with my clients – encouraging them to play.

It is too easy to get mid-way through a week, a month, or even a year, and realise you have not achieved what you had hoped. We can get swamped with emails, and urgent but non-essential stuff. I will continue my practice of making a careful list periodically of what needs to be done. Prioritising the items and then marking time in my diary when I will dedicate an hour or a half-day to key tasks. I will mark these times off with post-it notes in my diary so I find it difficult to write a conflicting meeting in the space. Then when I have completed a task on the list I will mark it off with highlighter pen so the stuff I have done shines out to me.

I still get overwhelmed at times, but reverting to my goals and affirmations and seeing how I am doing helps. Making sure my daily and weekly work is in line with my goals is important. And then treating myself with an “artist date” or another way to feed my soul will be special for me for 2015.

I am lucky that my creative work just about feeds my bank account sufficiently for me to not have another job. For many of my creative colleagues and clients they live a split life between feeding the bank so they can live, and feeding the soul so they can flourish as artists. Be careful that this balance doesn’t go tipping over and swamp the artistry. I spend a lot of time with my coaching clients working to get the balance right – when it works it is so freeing.

I look forward to working with amazing creative people this year, continuing my CGO Surgeries, championing my book through classes and events, and gathering some great people for the MA in Creative Producing which I will lead in September.   I especially look forward to some surprising calls for CGO to help with unexpected international projects and connections this year.

I will see many of you at the annual Devoted and Disgruntled 3 day event at York Hall – an amazing gathering of 250-300 creatives exploring their devotion to theatre and the creative arts, and our disgruntlement where we can appropriately do some good to make things better. I am always inspired by unexpected conversations. It feels like the most powerful kick-start to my year. If you’ve never been – grab a place and join this most open space for discovery.

Happy New Year

Get some plans in place to maximize your freedom to play. Let me know if I can help with a CGO Surgery or a Coaching package



PS – My thanks to CGO Associate Tom Atkins for playing with my website and getting the Blogs to have a space for comments.  Feedback now welcomed and possible.


  1. Thanks Chris! Not always easy to sit and plan but it’s so important. thanks for the reminder. Happy New Year – see you at D&D.



  2. This is a really interesting insight Chris. I have recently started being coached by a coach who trained with Patrick at The Coaching Training Institute last year. Given that I am both an artist and a Wellness Practitioner, this post has really resonated with me. Big love xx

  3. Thank you for sharing your article. A friend on FB sent it to me. And I agree. Achieving goals takes more than just one thing and you cover many of them beautifully. Good luck in all you intend to achieve this year. Speaking as someone that nailed her 2014 goals (with bells on) I look forwarded to keeping in touch and learning more. My goal list for 2015 is making me grin from ear to ear!

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