How to Conduct Your Own End of Year Business Review

public-speaking-powerpointIt’s that time of the year again.

Everyone is about to start planning their business goals for 2016. How about you? What are your business goals for 2016? Ramp up talent acquisition, restructure a department, cross-train employees, or close more sales?

Hold your horses. Before you call the whole team for a brainstorming and planning session, you should first look back analyze what went well — and what went wrong — this year. Doing this gives you a factual basis for your plans next year.

So you’re not starting from scratch, here are 3 factors you shouldn’t forget in your business review.

  1. Clients or Customers Gained and Lost

How many clients or customers did you have at the start of the year? How many do you have right now? Losing more than you gain is an ominous sign. An even number of lost clients and new customers isn’t something to celebrate either, as that could be a sign that your business was just stagnant last year.

Examine the triggers for lost clients:

  • Was it a one-time purchase?
  • For repeat customers, did they call in to complain or ask for help?
  • Did a competitor with a cheaper product come on the market?
  • Did they request a refund?

Examine the main drivers of new customers as well. How many leads turned into customers and how much did these people spend? From this data, you can determine if it’s worth scaling the strategies that worked, or if it’s time to change course.

  1. Business expenses

Any business needs to spend money to run effectively, be that in the form of marketing, payroll, training, or inventory expenses. Unfortunately, as business owners, sometimes it gets hard to determine which expenses are worth it.

For example:

  • Industry related magazine subscriptions: When was the last time you read them?
  • Productivity or time management apps: Do you even use them?
  • Corporate gym membership: How many people are using it? Would it be cheaper to have weekly aerobic classes?
  • Ecommerce, hosting and other online tools: Do you still use any of them? Is your hosting plan too big for your website’s traffic and data needs? What about your ecommerce store, do you really need all the bells and whistles, or will a simple but sleek storefront do?
  • Business insurance: Shop around to get a better price, or see if a recent restructuring warrants a decrease in your coverage.
  1. New Business Opportunities

Survey your customers to get information about their goals, problems, and challenges. Is there a book you can write to teach them what they need? What about a course? Can you have an app created to make ordering your products easier? Would they like it if you offered group or one-on-one coaching?

Better yet, are there competitors or complementary businesses you can partner with? Say you provide recruitment services, can you partner with a resume writer to better help candidates? You can also reach out to campuses to conduct career-related workshops.

I know it can be daunting, upsetting even, to review your business’s performance. Doing this might reveal your mistakes and poor performance. But don’t let the numbers dishearten you. At least now, you know what went wrong and what to do about it.