With two weeks left to the year and even less of actually work days, now would be a good time to look back and review what you’ve accomplished in 2013.
Any business owner knows its best to spend the majority of their time looking ahead so they can set goals for the future of their business, but its also a good idea to take time at the end of their fiscal year to look back so they can analyze and review what’s working and what’s not.
The Benefits of Looking Back
Analyze and Save. Such systematic reviews can assist business owners in identifying waste in dollars spent on marketing, product supplies, and general overhead; and hence save the company money in the year to come.
*For Example, take an honest look at your sales team and staff, vendors and subcontractors, and managers to see which members of your team are proving to be assets or dead weight. Take a sober look at your Profit and Loss spreadsheet to see where you can cut back, cut out or even find cheaper alternatives but still provide quality product and services to your clients.
Be Inspired. When you sit down and examine how your recent efforts have benefited your business by increases sales and exposure, focus on those factors and think creatively on how you can expand on those.
*For example, if you started blogging last year maybe once or twice a month and as a result, you have seen a slight increase of readership and have received a few positive comments. How much more so you can expand your audience and enhance your search engine optimization by blogging more frequently, say once or twice per week. And look for new, exciting topics that will engage your readers by doing market research on your target audience.
“On average, companies that blog receive 434% more indexed pages.” (An indexed page on a website is a page that a search engine has explored and stored.)
Get Motivated. When you review, it shouldn’t just be about focusing on what needs to be adjusted but also take time to pat yourself and your team on the back. You’ve completed another year in business – a huge accomplishment for small business as statistics show: 25% of new business fail the first year, 36% the second and 44% by year three. So just by keeping your doors open into the new year is an accomplishment.
But there’s more and you know it! Look at your growing customer base, your expanded services and improved product lines, review your social media and website success stories, and read over positive customer testimonials to see how your business is positively affecting your customers.
Also, take time to remember the instances your business has shown itself to be a responsible and giving corporate citizen by donating money, time, energy and pro-bono services to those in need in your community. All of these instances of positive action and resulting rewards will only motivate you to keep going, try harder, do better and be more creative in the way you do business.
How to Review & Analyze: Ask Questions & Give Honest Answers
Here’s a list of questions that will help you review what you have accomplished in 2013 or what needs to be adjusted for 2014. You can print out the provided worksheet and write your answers down, but be honest and don’t be anxious as this is for your eyes only.
There are two type of questions: (1) What were the positives from last year? (2) And instead of being negative, let’s ask… What are things I need to change?
- What have you accomplished?
- What have you learned?
- What new services and products are you providing?
- What goals have you reached?
- What marketing efforts provided a substantial return on investment (ROI)?
- Who contributed to my successes? What can you do to recognize these members of your personal or professional team?
- How did my performance rate? Give yourself a letter grade or a 1-10 score.
- What part of my business do I most enjoy? And what part of my business is most successful? Do you see a correlation?
- What ways have I positively impacted my community?
- How was my way of doing business consistent with my values? Are you following the Golden Rule in business?
The Need for Changes:
1. What mistakes did I make? Don’t become overwhelmed by this list because everyone makes mistake in business and in life, but each mistake can be turned into a positive. Making mistakes shows you are an innovative, creative person:
“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
And each failure provides a lesson to be learned:
“Failure is simple the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
2. What obstacles got in my way? This is where your work will be next year. Be honest if it was your own self that got in the way.
3. How can I improve on my internet footprint through my website and social media presence? Take time to regularly review website traffic, bounce rate, and the demographics of your website visitors through Google Analytics.
You will also be able to see if your social media is effectively directing traffic to your website. Also check each social media platform to see how many new likes, followers, shares, repins and retweets you are earning. If you are not satisfied with the results, focus on sharing more engaging content.
- For an analysis, call Startup Production for a review and ideas to improve.
4. How can I improve on my traditional marketing and sales efforts? There are always new ways to reach your target audience that you may not have tried or have yet to perfect, such as (1) email marketing, (2) mass mailings, (3) networking events, (4) traditional ads through magazines, newspapers, billboards, tv and radio, (5) sales and promotions, (6) corporate sponsorships for non-profits and local charities, and (7) referral programs.
5. Is the majority of your sales from new or repeat customers? If the new business stats are low, that is indicative that your marketing strategy needs to be adjusted. But don’t balk at a high number of repeat customers: “Encouraging repeat business increases profitability, because you don’t have to spend profits to bring in new customers,” says Hoagland-Smith.
6. Are you having fun? I know this seems rather irrelevant in running a business but on the contrary, statistics show if you enjoy what you do, you’ll do it better regardless of the financial rewards. “Do what you love and the money will follow,” they say. So get inspired, be creative and use your unique skillset to infuse your business with more of the fun factor.
7. What goals do I have for next year, in five years and beyond? Set realistic goals for the future growth of your business, plan on how to achieve them and what resources (financial and time) you will need.
Print out the worksheet to conduct your Business Year in Review Analysis: end-of-year-review-worksheet
*Next post will focus on what Startup Production has accomplished in 2013, from new services, new social media strategies, new customers to personal achievements.