Ah, it’s that time of the year again, when everyone is contemplating yet another year being almost over and setting goals for the next one. And business owners are no strangers to that! We all know how important it is to reflect on the year and plan the next 365 days with a yearly business review.
Behind every successful business is a great business strategy. And once you have one in place, you can build your marketing and sales strategies to support growth.
When it’s time for your yearly review, it’s a good idea to look back at which changes can be implemented into your business strategy and to make sure you have growth opportunities in place for the new year.
This blog post is the first of a two-part series about ending a year well and starting the next one even better. So, let’s get down to business!
Why you should do at least a yearly business review
We get it. Towards the end of the year, we’re all running on fumes and just trying to get through each week. The task of taking time to look back at the past year is likely at the bottom of your pile.
But, every business benefits from a solid plan of attack, and yearly reviews help you ensure that you’re putting the best action plan into practice.
Annual business reviews allow you to evaluate what practices are currently in place and whether they’re working out, along with what direction the business is going in.
They also help you, the business owner, get better business control, review insurance and agreements, assess profits and revenues, evaluate legal and tax needs, and apply past learning for future success. It might sound boring, but it’s crucial for the healthy growth rate you are aiming for.
A yearly business review differs from a quarterly review. It’s more global and strategic, whereas quarterly is more tactical.
A quarterly review is tactical in that you go through your progress from the last 90 days and outline your business strategy for the next 90 days—however, it’s more about the “here and now” action plan.
The yearly business review is more strategic when you look at your progress, achievements, challenges, and pitfalls in detail – and in measurable and quantifiable terms. And it’s when you look at your overall business success.
What does business success look like to you?
This is a loaded question.
But it’s also a super important question that you need to ask yourself – regularly – as your goals and needs can change quite quickly in the fast-paced business world.
Business success is different for every entrepreneur, so you need to identify your own criteria and know that it’s not just about the money.
Does success mean that your products are flying off the shelves like hotcakes, that you’ve started a legacy that will make money for generations to come, or that you’re able to sell your company for a good profit?
Or, success can be having established a healthy work and life balance.
Each year, when you do your yearly review, it’s a good idea to reassess what business success means to you. And if you’re achieving it.
Besides your version of success, what else should you look for?
Below are a few areas of your business you can look at during your yearly review that will make it more clear if your business strategy is working or not.
Then, according to your findings, you can adjust your growth plan. And instead of asking Santa to leave it under the Christmas tree, you can make it work yourself.
Return on Investment (ROI) in your product
ROI is a simple ratio that divides the net profit or loss from an investment by its cost. Basically, you’re trying to get the most significant percentage of profit possible.
The customer’s return on investment in your product is the accurate measure of value add.
Ensure you have a growth plan and strategy that will encourage customers to revisit or purchase more, which will improve your chances of maximizing return on investment.
Expansion of the value proposition
Your value proposition refers to the value you, as an entrepreneur, promise to deliver to your clients should they choose to buy your product or use your service.
It forms part of your company’s overall business and marketing strategy.
If you get it right, you’ll be able to convince anyone that your product or service will add more value than any other similar offerings.
Think about the number one reason why your product or service is best suited for your particular customer. Once you’re clear on this, it’s time to expand and reach more people with the same message via your website or other marketing channels.
Additional use cases
A business use case describes a general interaction between a business system and the users to produce valuable results. First, you need to identify the sequence of actions that need to be performed to provide a meaningful and observable impact to the end-user.
Looking at additional use cases is an easy way to identify what to do or change in your business to add value to your customers.
New products or features
Developing new products or features is the lifeblood of all businesses.
This change in your business strategy could result from a change in your client’s preferences, new competition, technology advancements, or taking advantage of a new opportunity.
You will thrive if you understand what your market wants, make clever improvements, and develop new products that meet and exceed your clients’ expectations.
Results from the previous 90 days
You first need to understand the past before you can work on your growth plan for the future.
The first step is to assess your efforts and outcomes over the last 90 days.
Keep your focus on your goal for the next 90 days, and experiment with the many options to achieve it. In doing this, you can test your assumptions and get results faster.
Sign up for our marketing experiments course to learn how to test different marketing tactics.
Next up: Identify what’s working and what’s not
To identify what’s working and what’s not in your business strategy, we suggest taking a closer look into the following:
First, have you met your goals?
There’s no point in setting goals if you never look back and whether you achieved them or not. So in your yearly review, it’s a good idea to look back at your previous year’s goals to see if you achieved them.
To do this, you need to look at the data, observe your results, and keep the bigger picture in mind.
As an entrepreneur, having goals keeps you on your toes. So while looking at your past goals, start thinking about your plans for the upcoming year.
What were the major roadblocks?
There are many roadblocks and obstacles that come in the way of achieving success. It’s important to acknowledge these when you do your yearly review and see how to get back on track.
So, take a long, hard look at what made it tricky to make progress or achieve an objective. And be honest with yourself while doing this.
Overcoming obstacles leads to growth. Growing a business is about not taking shortcuts, exploring all routes, asking others for directions, and keeping your eyes on the finish line. Do this by tossing fear in the backseat and looking at the roadblock as an opportunity.
What feedback are you getting from clients?
The information, thoughts, challenges, and opinions shared by your community regarding their experiences with your company, product, or services is known as customer feedback.
Even when it’s bad (especially when it’s bad), it can help improve the customer experience and empower good change in any organization.
Don’t be afraid to ask for honest feedback; this will help you change your growth strategy for the year to come.
Biggest revenue generators (and drainers)
During your yearly review, establish what brought in the most profit for you this year, but also what did not turn into profit.
It’s important to remember that sometimes it can take a few years for something in your business to generate profit. So even if something didn’t create any profit this past year, evaluate whether it has the potential to still do so in the coming year. And what you need to do to turn it around.
Why it’s essential to focus on what’s working and what has the most impact
Concentrating on what you’re doing right and keeping it going helps you gain momentum in your growth strategy. Having a clear idea of where you currently stand in your business makes you better prepared for going into the next year even stronger.
In part two of this blog series, we’ll discuss preparing for a year of success and accelerating business growth.