Wondering how to grow your small business?
Perhaps you’re hoping for more success next year.
But hope doesn’t grow your business! Goals and action do.
And the best goals are informed by what’s already working for you – or isn’t.
Don’t head forward blindly – review your past business successes and failures.
I started doing this in a somewhat non-intentional way three years ago. That’s when I started blogging about how my business had fared the prior year.
Even though I didn’t really have a plan, things started turning around in my business. Simply because I took the time to consider how my business was going!
I figured it was something others could use a bit of direction on – beyond my ramblings about what I’d been doing, and plan to change.
So this is it! This article will help you learn how to do your own business review, for better results next year.
Read on for an opportunity to become a free member of my site and download a FREE 16-page printable PDF!
You can print it out, fill in your answers to the questions, and even color in the 2 inspirational coloring pages if you like.
So let’s get started!
Get Ready To Evaluate the Past Year
Before you move forward with new goals, it’s important to evaluate the last year. You can gain valuable insights that can help you achieve your goals when you pause to reflect.
But you have to approach this evaluation of the past 365 days with a special attitude!
This isn’t about making harsh judgments or fixating on failed projects. Don’t use this time to mentally beat yourself up. You won’t gain anything valuable from shaming yourself for past mistakes.
Instead, focus on looking for patterns and trends that impacted your goals.
It’s best to handle your evaluation as if you were reviewing a friend’s year. With the level of detachment this brings, you’ll be more open to learning from the process.
Choose the Right Environment
Make sure you begin your evaluation in a quiet, calm environment. If you’re trying to evaluate your year in between cooking dinner and helping the kids with homework, your picture of the last year may not be that clear and you may miss important realizations.
When it comes to your evaluation, you’ll want to do it in a quiet space. It can be helpful to play soft instrumental music or to turn on a white noise machine. This allows you to get into a relaxed frame of mind.
You may also want to silence your phone and log off of social media. The constant dings from your cell and social sites can be distracting and you may find it difficult to get back on track after an interruption.
It’s also important to pick the best time of day to do your review. If you’re a morning person, then you may be too exhausted at the end of your day to give your full attention to the year’s evaluation. You should to try to schedule your review during a time when you feel alert and energized.
Take Your Time
Keep in mind that you can break your review up into smaller chunks of time.
You don’t have to dedicate five hours out of your day to this project. You can choose to break your sessions up instead.
Many people find that one hour sessions are best. It gives you plenty of time to reflect on your year without causing you to feel overwhelmed.
Look Back at What Worked
It’s time to look back at your year. Approaching your review with a positive attitude is important because it helps you to see your accomplishments clearly.
If you’ve overwhelmed and don’t know where to start your year’s review, consider asking yourself these questions.
What saved you time?
You may have saved time by outsourcing certain tasks, like bookkeeping or content creation. Take a look at what you outsourced this past year and how it helped your productivity.
You also might have saved time by developing systems to handle your work more effectively.
For example, if you’re a coach, you may have moved to an online scheduler that allows clients to book sessions with you during your available hours. This means that instead of scheduling every appointment yourself, you’re able to devote your time to more important tasks.
What made the most money?
Examine the different branches of your business and see which ones made you the most money.
Did your web design package prove to be a big income generator? Did your new product bring you a flood of new customers?
Knowing which activities are making you money is important. You don’t want to invest your New Year into tasks that aren’t growing your business.
What created the greatest amount of personal pleasure?
Now it’s time to look through the year’s projects and evaluate them in a different light. You want to focus on the ones that made you happy.
Ask yourself why you felt happy when you worked on these projects. Did you get to tap into a skill you’ve always wanted to use? Did you discover a talent you didn’t know you had?
Whatever your reason why, make sure you write it down so you can remember it later.
What new relationships are you excited about, and why?
Growing your online community is done one relationship at a time. That’s why it can be helpful to review your relationships over the past year.
Did you become friends with another business owner that you might want to partner with later on? Did you hear from several customers that love what you’re doing and want to beta test your next project?
Make a list of the new relationships you’ve developed and why they matter to you.
What positive breakthroughs impacted your mindset for the better?
As you’re evaluating your past year, reflect on your mindset.
How is it different now? Did you experience a mindset breakthrough that changed the direction of your life? Did you invest in learning more about mindset and how it affects your business?
Think of your twelve month review as a great way to dig up your past. You might just find a few golden nuggets that will help you in the coming year.
Be Honest About What Didn’t Work
You’ve carefully delved into the past year and found the positive moments. You celebrated your wins, embraced your favorite projects, and taken a look at what activities made you a nice profit.
But now it’s time to step back and discover what didn’t work.
During this phase of your New Year evaluation, it’s important to remember that you aren’t judging yourself. What you’re judging are your projects. Just because a project failed that doesn’t make you a failure.
What projects flopped in the past year?
Did you try something new this year that didn’t work out?
Maybe you tried Kindle publishing only to sell ten copies of your e-book. Maybe you launched a project that your community wasn’t enthusiastic about.
If a project failed, you need to identify it and consider why it failed.
Maybe you didn’t spend enough time marketing your new Kindle e-book. Maybe you didn’t listen to your community’s needs and that’s why your project flopped.
Acknowledging your failure is the first step to learning from it.
Failures getting you down? Dive into these self-confidence quotes.
Which projects gave you the least return in profit?
Every project requires energy and attention from you. Even if you’re a fledgling business being built on “sweat equity” – remember the old adage, Time is money.
Are you nurturing projects that are sick and dying? These projects will often give you every little in return for all your effort.
It might be that you have a blog that you’re still trying to get traffic to after months or even years. It might be that you’re still updating your course on web design even though no one’s buying it.
You have to examine the projects that are siphoning time and money from your business. Is there another healthier branch of your business that you could invest your time and money into?
What tasks or projects did you find yourself dreading?
Most business owners have at least one or two tasks on their plate that they don’t enjoy.
Perhaps you hate designing graphics for your blog, or you dread coming up with fresh content for your podcast every week.
Make a list of tasks that you don’t enjoy. Look them over and ask yourself if you can drop or outsource some of these projects.
Which people are you unenthusiastic about?
Not every business partner or client is going to be a good fit for your business.
Maybe you originally took on a client because you needed to pay the bills but now you make enough that you don’t have to worry about that. Perhaps you’ve been business partners with another entrepreneur who’s now going in a different direction than you are.
No matter the relationship, it’s important that you take time to consider why you no longer enjoy working with this person and what you can do about it.
It might be time to let that demanding client go so you can embrace one that you’re enthusiastic about serving. It might be time to say goodbye to your business partner and find a new one to work with.
Keep in mind that you are more than your ideas. You are a human being on a quest for your dreams. If you approach this part of the evaluation with this in mind, then you’ll be able to learn as much from your failures as you have from your successes.
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Reach optimal success in 2023 by taking time to review your business now.