As business owners we can get so caught up in the day to day running of our businesses that we can forget to take the time to reflect on “how” our business is going.
Given we are heading into the end of the year, this is the perfect time to stop for a moment, and take the time to take stock of how your 2016 in business has been. I would like to help you with this process as I know it is not always something that comes naturally to business owners (and people generally these days) when our energy is always focused on moving forwards.
Why is it important to take time to reflect on how our business has gone in 2016? Well, this reflection process can give us huge insight into what “actually” has happened in our business. This is going to come as a shock, but often we don’t know what has happened in our businesses, as we are only working from intuition of what we think or feel is happening!
This is especially true in the area of business accounting. So much of the time small business owners are working from what they think is happening with their business finances and not what is actually happening.
You are speaking to someone who knows all about this….accounting is definitely not my zone of genius! But I’ve realised that it is essential to look at the figures on paper.
So as part of your reflection process it is essential to make sure you have your accounts up to date for the year so you can get your hands dirty with the numbers. You’ll find there are nuggets of absolute gold in them.
Okay so let’s get cracking with a simple series of steps and questions that you can use to reflect on your year to date, (and importantly gain the most learning that will help you with planning your best year yet in 2017):
Step 1: It’s all about the numbers
Bring your accounts up to date (do not pass go or collect 200 euros until you have done this!). If you have accounting software this will be easy enough to print off your reports.
If you are using the old fashioned method of spreadsheets then you need to complete a sheet for your sales, one for your expenses, and finally a profit and loss sheet, so you can see what year’s profits or losses were.
There is a neat little app that can make the process of collating your receipts and expenses way easier, it is called Receipt Bank. If you haven’t tried it you’ll love it, go register for it now www.receipt-bank.com.
Your most important figures that you want to have at your finger tips are:
- Monthly & Annual Turnover
- Monthly & Annual Expenses
- VAT on Expenses/ VAT on Sales
- Profit & Loss Per Month & For The Year
- Marketing Spend To Sales Ratio
- Total Costs Involved in Sales of Individual Services/ Products
Step 2: Ask yourself the important questions
It is so easy to avoid the important questions because we don’t want to look at them, but I encourage you to face them head on. It is a lot less painful in the long run that way!
- When you look at the goals you set for 2016 – how did you get on? Did you achieve your goals? If yes, how? What goals didn’t you achieve and why?
- What went well in 2016? Consider different areas of your business in your answer e.g. marketing, sales, business growth, personal income, new and existing services/products, staff
- What can you learn from this that will help you with planning your business strategy in 2017?
- What didn’t work so well in 2016? Consider the same areas again. With hindsight, what would you have done differently? What are the golden nuggets contained in these challenges that will help you grow your business more successfully next year?
Step 3: Focus on Gratitude and Give Yourself Praise
Our minds are hardwired to focus on the negative (i.e. the things that didn’t work how you intended or wanted them to). Even if there are ten things we did well this year, it is likely the one thing that didn’t go so well will consume our minds and obliterate the good stuff!
I want to encourage you to take time to write about what you are truly grateful for this year. Even and especially when things haven’t gone as you hoped, you’ll find there is an immense amount to be grateful for. Perhaps it is as simple as having the time to focus on projects you are inspired by, or getting to work with a new client who you really enjoyed and made a difference to. Whatever it is, take time to connect with what you are grateful for and praise yourself for giving yourself the opportunity to experience this.
Step 4: Start planning your best year yet 2017!
Check out my upcoming blog post, “How To Double Your Income and Still Work Less Hours!” to learn what you need to do in this step!