At the end of each year, it’s good to gather key people in your business to review the past year’s successes and failures, and plan for the next year. You’re going to want to spend some quality time on this because it’s so important to the success of your business. Put aside the work and the distractions, and focus only on evaluating the current year and making your plans for the year to come. The old adage “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is as true as it ever was.

Here are some questions to aid you in your year in review conversation. You’re going to be looking at the highlights, the low points, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And the numbers. Spend some time working through this step because you can’t move forward unless you know where you currently are. And don’t gloss over your answers; dig deep to get a clear picture of the state of your organization. Encourage honesty, even when it’s not what you want to hear.

  1. What were our goals for the year?
  2. What did we do, make, or create this year?
  3. What was the response from buyers to our products, services, or strategies?
  4. What were our biggest challenges this year and how did we respond to them?
  5. Where did we spend most of our time this year?
  6. Was this time spent advancing us toward our goals or troubleshooting problems?
  7. What strategies to achieve our goals worked and what strategies do we need to rethink?
  8. What does our data look like? Sales, revenue, items shipped, items returned, employee retention, site visitors, abandoned carts on site, conversion rates?
  9. How many customers did we have over the previous year? How many customers were repeat customers? What about customers lost and reasons for why?
  10. What were our most  effective strategies for getting new customers and retaining old ones?

Once you analyze the current year, now it’s time to look ahead to the next year. In this step, you want to create a roadmap to follow to get your company to where you want it to be. It’s best to start with the end in mind, and work backward to figure out how to get there. Decide where you want to be at the end of next year, then break this down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. This is also where you can encourage your dreamers, who just might have the idea that propels your organization into a higher level of success. Brainstorming has its place here as well.

  1. What is the one thing that we can’t not do that will make a difference to our business next year?
  2. What should we start doing in the new year? What should we stop doing?
  3. What new products, services, or strategies do our customers want?
  4. For review, what are our vision and mission statements?
  5. What are our company’s values and what kind of work culture are we trying to cultivate?
  6. What are the goals we want to set for the coming year?
  7. What strategies will we implement to achieve these goals?
  8. What new knowledge or skills will we need?
  9. What changes do we want to make from this year to next?
  10. Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How do we get there?

Hopefully, this exercise will get you charged up and excited about the year to come. If you’re doing well, there’s room to do better. If things did not go as well this year as you liked, there are always ways to improve.

Wishing all of you success in business in the new year!