Many interior design professionals use the holiday season to reflect on the year that was. You’re wise to focus instead on the year that can be.

Use this time to plot your course and make your 2019 sales and marketing plan. Why? Because a designer without a plan is like ship without a rudder. You may have a rough idea of where you want to go, but not a clue on how to get there.

You can "get there" and achieve your goals for the year ahead by keeping these seven "p"rinciples in mind:

1. Positioning.

In competitive times like these, there’s no better way to differentiate yourself than to pinpoint and promote your “Only,” as in “I’m the area’s only window fashion professional who ___.” Tell them what only you do, and they’ll buy only from you.

2. Pipeline.

Build yours — and your business — by doing the “daily dozen.” Smile and dial, and reach out every day to at least 12 industry contacts you need to know — and who need to know you. It’s an easy way to grow your momentum, and your bottom line.

3. Pain.

No pain, no gain. That’s why you should talk, tweet, text, post, present and write about the biggest challenges your ideal prospects face. Focus your marketing on those challenges, and position your firm as the one that can overcome them.

4. Partnership.

There is strength in numbers, and you need not, and you should not go it alone. Align yourself in your marketing with vendors, suppliers, contractors, bloggers, the media and other industry influencers.

5. Pool.

When it comes to selling, follow the lead of professional billiards players. Always set up your next shot.

Ask about Phase II before you start Phase I, talk about designing the vacation as well as primary residence, and discuss the branch offices in addition to the corporate headquarters. Simply put, focus on “next” as well as now.

6. Pricing.

Charge the part of the star that you are. Attach top value to yourself, and price yourself accordingly.

Sell from the top down: offer your best, top of the line products and services before discussing the rest. Let your clients decide what they can and can’t afford.

7. Persistence.

Never, ever give up. Go until “no” — and understand that “no” may simply mean “not now” or “not yet.” The most financially successful design professionals are the most stubborn.

The more specific you are in your goal-setting and planning, the more successful you’ll be in the year ahead. It’s not enough to aim for “bigger projects from better clients.”

You’ll get far better results if you determine, ahead of time, the approximate square footage of your ideal projects, and to decide exactly what you mean by “better clients.”

Success in your interior design business happens by choice not chance. You can choose to make 2019 your breakout year by diligently following some basic business success habits.

The first, and most important of these habits? Make a plan, Stan.