As each year closes many businesses are busy putting together a plan for the next year, but they often don’t take the time to reflect on what the past year has produced. The primary culprit here is that businesses simply don’t have enough time to get their daily tasks done, so they definitely don’t have enough time to look backwards.
I get that, the to-do list on my desk always seems to get longer which has me starting each day by making any necessary changes to prioritization. A year-end reflection is something that should move to the top of all of our lists because until you take full stock of what worked and what didn’t work this past year, you’re only going to do your 2017 plan a disservice.
To make it easier I’ve created a high level outline that will give you insights in key areas, while still allowing you to drill down further as needed.
Revisit Your 2016 Goals and Measure Success
Let’s be honest, most businesses don’t clearly define their goals, so if that’s you don’t feel bad. Aside from simply stating the obvious goal of “Growing Your Business” what were the specific initiatives you had to help grow those sales. It could be focusing on referral business, mailing postcards in a new area or trying to increase repeat or up-sell transactions from your existing clients.
Explore Why You Did or Didn’t Find Success
Too often businesses are quick to say that an initiative didn’t work without actually exploring why. Let’s say you determine that your efforts to increase referral business was largely flat this past year. What marketing channels did you use for this? How often did you send out the marketing? What was the message and how compelling was your offer to the existing clients to prompt referrals? Really successful businesses will be able to answer these questions and they will have tested channels, frequency, message and offer.
Access Marketing Conditions
Never forget that successful goals should be closely aligned to the consumer demand of your target audience. Have there been changes in how your target audience consumes data that should influence how you do your marketing? Are there any emerging trends that should change the message of that marketing? What have your competitor’s been doing lately? Always make sure that you’re properly differentiating yourself so you don’t become just another company in a crowd.
Outline Your Goals for 2017
After reviewing the successes and failures of the previous year, and more importantly what led you to each of those outcomes, start to define the goals you’d like to accomplish in 2017. Then outline the specific activities and the path needed to successfully reach that goal. Make sure the activities are realistic and broken down so you don’t become overwhelmed. In general, goals are marathons, but should be viewed as several smaller races.
Establish a Way to Hold Yourself Accountable
One of the biggest downfalls of a well-laid plan is a lack of accountability. We all get so busy with our daily activities that very quickly we begin chasing simple solutions rather than ensuring we’re focused on our long-term goals. Review your goals daily and make sure you’ve outlined a clear path to achieving them. You should also look to share your goals with others that can help to make you more accountable. This could include business partners, fellow employees, business/life coaches or even family members.
Here’s to a prosperous 2017!