It’s that time of year to reflect on the year that was, and get ready for the year that will be. It’s a great time to take the time to ask yourself a few questions, and try to honestly answer them. How was this past year? Did you have a successful year? How did the year compare to prior years? If you set goals for the year, did you achieve your goals? Were you able to increase your sales and grow your business? Were you able to trim some overhead and put your money to better use? Were you able to improve your cash flow? And many more questions that come to your mind. After every question, ask yourself, why or why not? Can you identify the reasons your business performed the way it did?
What did success even look like this past year? While the stock market was flying high, many parts of the country weren’t necessarily swept up in its wake. This might have been a year that you didn’t hit your goals but missing the mark might have been more a product of your local economy than a fault with you. If you’re a member of a trade association, there’s a good chance that they can provide you with comparative financials which you can use to compare your business to your peers. If not, you should be able to visit with your banker and accountant to get a feel for how other businesses in your area fared. However, whether good economic or bad economic conditions, it is ultimately up to you as a business owner to figure out how to succeed this next year.
Now that you have reviewed this past year and successfully answered all of your own questions (easier said than done!), it’s time to look to the future. Do you create a business plan and/or a budget on an annual basis to help guide you through the next year? If so, get to it. If not, at least set some goals for the new year. What are your goals for next year? Try to be as specific as possible with your goals; they should be clear and concise, and list all of your goals out separately. It’s important that you write your goals down so that you can review them as a reminder of what you want to achieve as well as to occasionally measure your progress throughout the year. You don’t have to have an extravagant plan to get started. Sometimes the hardest part of goal-setting is getting started. But my guess is that you already have a few goals in mind for next year, so what are you waiting for? Here’s to success in 2018!