As the year wraps up, it’s time to review the past year. Now, this can be as painful as doing your taxes or it can be as fun as attending a New Year’s Eve party.
Let’s do it the fun way, yeah?
Making your yearly wrap-up FUN can be as simple as setting some intentions before you get started – what do you want to learn? What information do you need to make the New Year awesome?
I like to know:
- What are the best things I did for my business in 2011?
- What were my most succesful months?
- Where did new business come from?
- What risks didn’t pay off?
- What was the most painful time (or project) of 2011
(notice: I didn’t ask what wasn’t successful,because if something was a huge money-maker, but I hated every second of it…I want to avoid it in the future, or find a way to make it more fun)
To answer these questions, I do a quick three-step process:
1. Gather information
2. Find the connections
3. Use what I’ve learned
1. Gather Information
Now, this is the step that you’ll try to avoid, but you’ve gotta just buckle down and do it.
The kind of information you want to gather is:
- Your business financials, by month (all income and expenses) – I get this by donwloading my Paypal activity by month into a spreadsheet, then I update the spreadsheet with information from my bank statements (anything that I earned or spent that didn’t go through Paypal). If you use Vianza, these reports are easy to generate!
- A list of the time-specific marketing you did (what months did you run advertising, attend trade shows, release new lines, etc) – this is easiest to gather if you’ve been writing it down as the year’s progressed, but you can dig through your emails to find the info you need.
- The metrics that I care about, by month – this is everything that reflects the health of your business that isn’t related to money. For you this might be new accounts (and when you landed them), web traffic (pay attention to spikes, and changes in where the traffic came from), publicity.
To keep it simple, I like to organize the information in a simple list with each month’s final numbers (income and expense), the marketing in that month, and any other metrics listed under the Month Name. If you spread it out too much, over multiple documents, you won’t be able to see as clearly how one month affected the next.
Now go back through your months and write in anything else that you think of.
Did a trade show one month lead you to hire someone to help you fill the orders? Or did it overwhelm you so much that you sent orders out late?
Did one retailer fail to pay you one time and mess up your cashflow?
Did you get a sales rep in one month and see your orders double the next month.
Is one month’s income made up from just one big order, while another month’s made up of several small orders?
Whew, this is a lot of digging and thinking and it may take you more than one day. Take as long as you need to think over this list and add things as you think of them.
When you're ready for Part 2 of the review process, check it out at Vianza.
I wrote this post for Vianza, but liked it so much I had to share it here! Let me know how your review goes!