How are you feeling about your business as the year starts to come to a close? Maybe you’re right where you want to be. But maybe you thought you’d be closer to a particular milestone or in better shape financially.
The time to review your business and plan for next year is now and yet, that can be extremely difficult when you’re feeling frustrated, stuck, or even feeling shame about where you’ve ended up. How can you engage the peace and gratitude you need to set your strategy and make a plan for next year so that you end up in a better position 12 months from now?
You’re not alone.
First, know that you’re not alone. Whether you’re just starting out, just hit the Microbusiness Earning Plateau, or whether you’ve been around the entrepreneurial block a hundred times, there are plenty of other people experiencing what you’re experiencing. It might help to set up some private chats with a few business owners in your network that you’re close to. You can mutually debrief with honesty and avoid the trap of sugar-coating on social media. Whether your friend is in the same position as you are or not doesn’t really matter since we’ve all experienced ups and downs on this path.
Revisit what worked.
Second, revisit what worked–no matter how small it might be. Make a list of victories: an interview, a great client, a fabulous testimonial, a met deadline. Look for patterns. What do the things that worked have in common? Maybe you used a particular personal strength or followed your gut instead of convention. Maybe it was the kind of client or a way you set up your workflow. Dig down and figure out why things worked, not simply what worked.
Revisit what didn’t work.
Third, do the same thing for what didn’t work. Yes, it will be painful but you’ll end up with more helpful information for the next round.
Run your numbers.
Next, run your numbers. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t hide from your numbers. When the end of what felt like my worst year yet rolled around, I ran my numbers and discovered that I had generated as much revenue as the year previous when I felt on top of the world. My business hadn’t grown but that was because I was reconfiguring my business model and repositioning my business, not because I was “bad.”
Ideally, you should be running your numbers at least monthly and reviewing them with someone who can help you interpret the information. But when you’ve been down on yourself or your business, it’s likely you’ve been putting off this task. Take this time to hit the reset button and commit to a better pattern for next year.
Identify a big win.
The penultimate step is identifying what would be a big win–right now. It’s never too late to grab a big win. Think about what you really want to create, how you want to connect with your customers, and what metrics are most important to you (for instance, are you more interested in adding 100 new subscribers to your list or bringing in an extra $2000?). Then decide on that big win. Create a plan to make that happen as quickly and easily as possible. Forget doing things “right” and just figure out how to make it happen. Skip the bells and whistles and go straight to what is going to make that big win tick.
Last week I was talking with my friend Brooke, an herbalist and founder of Love Warrior Gardens, and she identified that adding 10 new customers to her Community Supported Herbalism program would be a big win for her and help her end the year in a great position. We brainstormed several easy-to-implement sales tactics that could make that happen. The next step was as simple as writing an email or asking some friends to share her business with their friends.
Making that kind of concentrated push toward a goal at the end of the year can not only put more money in your bank account but can also provide really positive momentum you can carry into the next year.
Make your plan.
Finally make a plan for next year. You’re not going to get yourself out of a hole by flying by the seat of your pants. You need to know your end goal (where you want to be 12 months from now), what personal strengths you’re going to leverage to get there, and how you’ll break down the year piece by piece to get there. Sure, you may need to pivot once or several times throughout the year. But how much more confident will you feel having an initial plan for how the year will flow?
If you need help planning, I have a free Revenue Planning guide that breaks it down into 4 easy steps. You’ll review this year, chart out your sales cycles for next year, plan the revenue you want to generate for each month of the next year, and then conduct a pre-mortem for each sales cycle to mitigate the chances of things going south.
Remember, every business has ups and downs. Even if you’re not where you wanted to be at this point in the year, it doesn’t mean you’re not poised to do great things–and soon. Take time to find the peace and gratitude that will guide you through the end of this year and on to the next. Then make a plan to make it happen.