As the year draws to a close, it is time to look back at what you achieved this year and assess the performance of your business. Knowing how well (or poorly) you did this year can help you improve for the coming years.
Here are 10 checklists for your home business year-end review:
1. Assess how this year contributed to your overall business goals.
Whether you have a written formal business plan or just notes scribbled in your diary, look back at whether your business has achieved the goals and objectives you have set out when you started. See how far you have gone in reaching what you wanted to achieve, and use the results of your business review to redefine your business goals.
2. Review your customer acquisition and retention strategies.
Your business is only as good as the number and quality of customers you bring to it. Customers are the lifeblood of your business, and you need to always review how you are getting customers, and more importantly, how you are keeping them as customers.
3. Analyze your financials.
The only way you can really know how well your business is doing is by knowing the bottom-line. This assumes, however, that you are able to do regular bookkeeping, generate financial statements based on your bookkeeping journals, and analyze those statements to really understand the financial condition of the business.
4. Analyze your web analytics.
Whether you are operating a Web business, or just using the Web as an online brochure for your brick and mortar business, it is important to look at the numbers behind your web site. The Web has become an integral medium for any business today that it is important to understand how your web site is contributing to your overall goals. If your site is not using any web analytics software – whether the free Google Analytics or the pricier WebTrends – you need to install one as soon as possible.
5. Assess your marketing strategies.
Marketing is a huge chunk of your daily efforts, both in time and in expense. It is important that you periodically monitor what worked for you in terms of bringing in the most sales, increasing awareness to your brand, and engaging with your customers.
6. Make a list of what worked – and what did not work.
As the business owner, you will find it exceedingly difficult to develop a future strategy for your business if you do not know how successful your current strategies are to date. Hence, it is essential that you look at how you perform this year, and what strategies actually worked best for your business. Based on your assessment and review of your strategies this year and solid understanding of your customer acquisition and Web traffic, write down what worked best for you. Put your thinking cap on, and look at the year with an analytical eye.
7. Check out your competitors.
You don’t operate in a vacuum. Hence, it is important that you take time to see what your competitors are up to. Big businesses have departments dedicated solely to understanding the competitive landscape. Just because you don’t have dedicated manpower to find out what others are doing doesn’t mean that you can’t do it.
8. Develop your goals and strategies for next year.
As a small business or home-based entrepreneur, it is easy to get so caught with the day-to-day running of the business that you fail to think about your ultimate objectives for the business. Who has time to sit down and think about what to do next year, when you’ve got a long to-do list of tasks to complete for the day? However, it is essential to create a realistic strategic plan that you can review periodically to assess how you are really doing with your business.
9. Think of a Plan B.
It is always smart to have a backup plan in place in the event that things do not work out as planned. It is great to be optimistic about things and hope that running the business will go as smoothly as possible. However, things don’t always work accordingly. The strategies you’ve planned may not be working out as expected. Some catastrophe may happen, or someone in your family (or even you) may get sick and you may be unable to work on the business.
10. Prepare your mind for new challenges ahead.
You have already taken stock of where you are. You have thought about where you want to go. The next step is to ensure that you are in the right mindset for your entrepreneurial journey, and committing yourself to staying with it.
Read the complete series “Home Business End of the Year Review”.