How to make the most out of your year-end review process

Here we are almost at the end of another business year. It’s hard to believe it’s going to be time to turn the page to a new year and a new decade. This time of year finds some business folks asking questions like, “How did the year go by so fast?” “Do we have time to make any corrections?” “Does our bottom line reflect our efforts?” “Have we connected with our customers enough?” and “Did we provide what our customers expected?”

Many businesspeople use the fourth quarter to plan and formalize goals for the coming year by doing a year-end review. This provides a chance to analyze what worked well and what did not. It also helps professionals look for ways to improve and to explore new opportunities that may not even have been thought of before. It’s a time to study the company’s latest business plan to make sure it’s still workable and appropriate for the near future or figure out things that need to be refined.

At a recent luncheon, a business friend at my table was worried that the end of their fiscal year was not shaping up to be exactly what they’d hoped for. One of my business coach friends, also at our table, was quick to throw out some ideas:

  • When you find yourself in the hole, stop digging! Quit dwelling on how bad things are and get to work. Get an updated marketing plan in place that will find new customers and new ways to reach them. Good marketing can make a huge difference.
  • Write a new business plan or totally review and update the current plan.
  • Review all advertising and promotional tools used in the past year and determine which to keep using and which to discard. Explore new ones for the coming year. Ask if the messages your business put out were delivered in the right way, so the end result was increased sales?
  • Fun at work translates into increased productivity. Did team members have fun this past year? What did the company do that every staff person remembers as fun? Another one of my business coach friends bills herself as the “Queen Bee of Business Enjoyment.” She says if you’re not having a good time, then it’s time to up the enjoyment quotient for the company.
  • There’s an old saying, “Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.” Getting a well thought out marketing plan for the coming year is like doing a rain dance for the business.
  • Spend time like money, which these days should mean only on things that are important to the company.
  • Make sure the company is using the 24-hour rule when responding to email, phone calls, regular mail, texts, etc.

Legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” He also said, “To play with confidence, a team must feel that everything possible has been done to prepare it fully for the coming game. Nothing’s more important than that.”

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.