This time of year I like to take several days away from my day-to-day business, hide out somewhere cold but with a good fireplace and sort through the current opportunities and challenges of my business. I make it a point to seriously limit email and phones so I can think more clearly without the usual “noise” of day to day activity.
I’m always curious about how (or if) other business owners do the same and what approach they take to an annual review or plan. Please let me know your routine and your success with it.
Here’s my approach:
- I spend very little time comparing what I planned to do with what I actually did. This seems to be an exercise with little benefit. What I do is focused on what surprises I had last year and try to figure out if I could have done something so that the surprises weren’t surprises
- Next, I try to forecast areas of my business that could create surprises, both good and bad, this year. For example, I’ve spent some time on interest rates. Interest rates are low now but if they suddenly jumped up it could have a bad effect on my business. Is there anything I can do now to mitigate the effects if higher rates do materialize? I think so.
- Next, I look at changes in my industry during the last year to try to determine if our people need training or education in areas where the industry has gotten a little ahead of us. For this year, I’ll be doubling our efforts in SEO and social media…but we’ll need some help.
- Another area I look at is my personal productivity. Have I gotten sloppy anywhere, in what areas can I support our people better?
- Lastly, I try to focus on approaching opportunities and try to figure out if we can get ahead of the curve. There are huge advantages in all businesses to be first..but not to early. That’s a delicate balancing act.