As the year draws to a close, it’s good practice to look back at what you’ve achieved, the goals you had for the year in the beginning and where you are now. While many businesses work, on paper, according to the financial calendar or the unique seasons of their own industries peak times and troughs, the deep midwinter still has an undeniable allure as a period of reflection, retrenchment and readying for the new year.
Today we’re going to take a look at this process and look at how you can get the best out of it.
What Were Your Goals?
The first thing to do is look back clearly on what your goals for the year were. Unless you track these things, you can’t assess your progress properly.
The most important thing is for your goals to be filled out both in intent and substance. So “grow the business” isn’t much help in review: grow it by how much? Did you grow it enough? Did you grow it in the right areas? If you’ve got lots of new orders but not the capacity to fulfil them, have you grown your business? What about if you’ve bumped up your logistics side but they’re not doing anything because you don’t have any orders?
Going forward, make sure you set specific goals, goals it’s possible to make an assessment about whether you’ve hit or missed the mark. If you don’t have this, you can work by the intent of the goal (do you feel like you’ve grown your business? As the business owner, does it feel bigger?) but this gives you much less to reflect on, fewer lessons to learn and less firm foundations going into the year ahead.
What Else Happened?
One thing it’s important to do when you’re assessing your performance over the last year is look at the other events that happened in the year that are out of your control and how they impacted your plans. This might provide mitigating factors for targets not hit – plenty of people went into 2020 with plans to increase footfall, open new premises and set new revenue records and count themselves lucky to merely survive the year! – or evidence of other, unplanned opportunities seized upon.
Give yourself credit for the context you’re operating in, and the flexibility to recognise successes made in spite of real life setbacks. Inflexibly adhering to The Plan can be as damaging to a business as not having a plan at all!
If, even looked at through the lens of the context of the year you’ve lived through, your plans aren’t matching up with your achievements, it may be time to get a little help. If you look for the sort of growth advisory consultants London firms are now increasingly making available even for smaller businesses, you can get some expert input into how to shape the direction of travel for the next year and set targets that will meaningfully improve your business when you revisit your progress in twelve months time.