As the year winds down and we get ready to spend some time with our loved ones, it’s important to also take some time for yourself as a business owner to reflect on how your enterprise performed in 2020 by conducting an annual business review. It’s also a time to prepare ourselves for the coming year, before the holidays transition back to the hustle and bustle.
Running an Activated Checklist in your Way We Do account to conduct an annual business review process, lets you paint a picture of your organization’s journey during the year, recalling your achievements and challenges, and how you’ve progressed toward your goals. You may feel an annual review is a luxury reserved for the sole proprietor, but this is far from true. An annual business review is an opportunity for you to ask the hard questions about your business – whatever its size – and where necessary, adjust your approach to keep things going in the direction you want.
We share our top 10 reflective questions to help you come to grips with the year that was.
- How was productivity affected?
- How did you motivate and inspire your team?
- Did you meet your financial targets this year? (And if not, why not?)
- What products and services performed better than you expected?
- Which systems do you need to upgrade and standardize? (As well as software, this includes any intellectual property you’ve developed as part of your approach to guiding your processes, maintaining your business values, and providing services to clients.)
- What major setbacks did you experience?
- What can you do to avoid similar setbacks in the coming year?
- What lessons did you learn?
- What are your goals for next year, and what strategies do you need to put in place to achieve them?
- What can you do to help operations run as smoothly as possible next year?
Asking these questions of yourself and your team gets everyone thinking about the bigger picture, and what you can all do to help lay the groundwork for the coming year.
Conducting the Annual Business Review
1. Review your timeline for the year
A timeline review gives you a snapshot of the journey you and your business have taken throughout the year. Make sure you include milestones and goals you reached, as well as any setbacks you faced. A timeline review can also include your reflections on the priorities you had in mind at the start of the year, and give you a glimpse of the intentions you have for the future. The information you gather here sets the stage for your next steps.
2. Review your key business divisions
Your key business divisions are typically your revenue-generating divisions responsible for day-to-day operations. These might be marketing, customer service, and operational divisions. Identify key details that will reinforce your plans for the coming year. This can range from getting customer feedback on service delivery, to conversions from paid marketing activities, to investment funding and revenue from business activities.
3. Review your goals and accomplishments
Planning ahead for the future is an important exercise, but without a clear picture of what has worked in the past, you won’t be able to form a clear strategy for how to move forward. And while it’s easy to focus on the setbacks, a positive outlook for the future helps boost your morale (and that of your team) and fuel your determination to achieve great things. Take note of the methods, tools, and processes that helped you reach any milestones and goals during the past year.
4. Review KPIs and results
KPIs help keep everyone on track toward achieving their own and the business’s goals. Your team’s KPI results from the past year are an easy way to assess overall performance throughout the year, and give you an idea of where your business stands right now. KPIs could be around revenue, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and customer growth. Visualizing the data using graphs and charts can make it easier for you to relay this to your team.
5. Identify opportunities
Now, it’s time to identify any areas of opportunity. This will form the foundation of your business objectives and goals for the coming year. You may find your objectives stay the same in the New Year, but with a slight shift in priorities or an adjustment to your approach to meet changing market conditions.
Look for any gaps in your current operations as well, and where you many need to improve resources, or give your staff additional training.
6. Present findings
Present your annual review findings to the whole organization, not just senior management, in a way that’s engaging and readily understood. While you may not go into the finer details with all your employees, you should still make a summary report available to them. Include successes and challenges, key projects and initiatives from the past year, along with objectives, goals and strategies for the coming year.
You’ll need to present your more detailed findings to your senior management team in a meeting. This should include an in-depth discussion on the results, and a strategic conversation about how to put your best foot forward as a team in the coming year.
7. Prepare execution
You’re almost there. Now, you just need to put an execution plan in place to map out how you’ll achieve the goals and objectives you’ve set for the next 12 months. This should form the next part of the discussion of your management meeting. You’ll need to consider the budget the company will need, the resources, tools and process, which teams will do what, and timelines. Factor in a risk management plan to deal with any challenges that arise, and how you might mitigate them. You’ll also need to think about how you will communicate and engage with your teams to enact these plans.
2020 has been a year like no other, and it’s been tough for a lot of businesses as well – remember to factor that in when you’re reviewing the year that was. Get ready for 2021 by celebrating your successes, and identify new opportunities to kick your business goals. All progress, however slight, is still progress. To quote Dr Martin Luther King Jr:
“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t walk run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means keep moving”.