I’ve been pleased to start my new year off on a very exciting project that has me working on site at a client’s office, experiencing the culture, and getting valuable face time with decision makers (many of whom are already busy trying to balance a hundred things at once — and that’s a conservative number!).

I, too, have a backlog of writing, articles, administrative tasks, and housekeeping that I need to tend to. What is new for me in this new year is that I am choosing between things I need to do for my clients and things I need to do for myself and my own business. Clearly, my clients should come first, but often I have to put myself first. This can be frustrating when I begin my day with a fresh rush of inspiration. I have to choose whether to blast it out quickly, or just jot it down as yet another good idea that I must sadly put aside.

This year — starting with January — I am concentrating more on service. In years past, it hasn’t been so critical. Service will be what gets the job done. Service will give the client a result and also a positive experience along the way. Service will build a track record and trust with my clients.

Only after I got the first job did I realize that it will be my service that gets me the second one.

Now I am asking myself, “Who does this activity serve?” Too often, the answer is only “myself”. Now, my customers, AEC marketers, and the design industry of Boston in general, are all stakeholders in the success of my business. The challenge is that I need to be able to serve all of these stakeholders and myself at once without being self-centered about it. If a given task can serve current or potential customers and build my visibility at the same time, that is a worthy task. If it provides something that I can bill for, that is also a worthy task. If it helps me establish clarity and direction for myself and others, that is a worthy task.

I am slowly raising my business — from offering a point of view, to providing a skill, to delivering a service.

This is my growth plan for 2013. Let me know if I can help you with yours.