Festive lights strung up in the streets and decorations to buy for the big event at the end of the year. Where did the year go?
As the end of 2013 rushes towards us, and our diaries fill with social events and end of year celebrations, we can forget to take stock of our business. By not doing this we miss out on an opportunity to reflect on the year past, and take time out to understand what we have learnt. What has worked well in our business, what hasn’t, what we loved and what we didn’t.
Knowledge of ‘how our business has been for a year’, is an essential tool to start planning for 2014. We can learn so much from an afternoon of reflecting on our business, and how we have felt about the year just gone.
Before the tinsel and champagne distract you completely away from your business, mark an afternoon out in your diary and go through the steps below to take stock of your business.
Step 1: What’s been great about this year?
We are all busy. Often too busy to reflect on what we are doing well and what we have achieved because we are fretting about what is left to do. This is human nature, years ago our brains evolved to always be searching for danger to protect us from harm. We still do this today, even in the 21st century, even though the causes of danger have changed. No nasty mammoths to eat us!
Write a list, doodle a drawing or mind map the 20 best things about your year in your business!
Once this has been completed, take a few moments to reflect. Absorb how much work you have done, the successes you have achieved.
Step 2: What can you do or have to mark this achievement?
Whenever I achieve a big milestone, for instance, my first client, my 100th client, a book deal or leading my first workshop for women business owners, I go and buy something to mark the event. Then every time I look at that gift, I remember the achievement and it gives me a wonderful surge of self-belief.
After completing my first facilitation assignment abroad, I bought the most gorgeous pen at the Airport. I use it everyday and remember that it represents a goal I set myself. And that I can go on to achieve more goals.
This may seem a minor step to do in an annual review, but I know it will have far-reaching impact in the years to come!
Step 3: How did the numbers stack up?
How much money did your business make? This needs to be considered at two levels:
- Turnover – the amount you invoiced
- Net Profit – what is left after you have paid for the goods to be made and all your operating expenses.
Ask your book keeper to compile the numbers for you, and if you don’t use a book keeper, then create a spreadsheet so you can do the analysis.
If you have goals for your business, how does this compare with what you set? And how do you feel about the result? Thrilled, and abundant with additional earnings, or slightly disappointed that this year only eeked past the previous year?
Step 4: What can you learn from the numbers?
Consider your responses from step 1 and step 3. What went well and the financial performance of your business.
Take some time to review the year in terms of activities that grew the business and added to the revenue, and those that didn’t.
Create a list of 10 activities that you loved and that you know had a positive impact on the business. What was it about them that worked so well? How did they impact your business?
Now create a second list of 10 activities you completed that didn’t fare so well. Either they were difficult to complete, or they cost you more in terms of time and money than the income you generated. They were loss making.
Consider why the second list turned out like it did. What was your role in the impact?
From these two lists, write down what you have learnt. What will you repeat for the coming year to grow your business, what you won’t. This can be used as a step in your 2014 planning.
Step 5: Saying Thanks for the Human Touch
Successful business owners have the right support at the right time. In the last 12 months, who has supported you? What have you learnt from them and how has their support made a difference to your business?
The people that we choose to spend our time with have an enormous influence on us. Running our own business can be a lonely place and so this support is essential to motivate, inspire and stretch.
Who would you like to say ‘thank you’ to? Which people in your support network have helped you grow, nurtured your ideas and made an impact?
Show your appreciation by writing them a thank you card. A little note that will only take a few minutes for you to write but a note that will really touch their hearts.
Reflecting on the year in this way will leave you feeling more informed, more positive and with a real sense of knowledge about what you need to do more of in the months ahead.
I wish you all the best as you wrap the year up, and begin your journey for 2014!