How to Review Your Year as an Entrepreneur: Five Key Steps

Today’s five-step retrospective is how my team measures performance and sets goals. Use the steps that apply to your business and industry. Above all, remain honest, open, and candid with your team. They’ll follow your lead. If you want to know how to review your year as an entrepreneur, this article is for you.

How to write a year-in-review report.

1. Collect business performance data. It’s more than just numbers.

End-of-year reviews for small businesses are not just about counting dollars and cents; they unravel the story behind the numbers. So, grab your financial statements and key performance indicators, and let’s get down to business.

If you’re at a loss concerning how to review your business year, start with obtaining the following data:

  • Customer Retention Rates
  • Profit Margins
  • Market Share
  • Operational Efficiency

Use every tech tool in your arsenal: project management tools, accounting software, CRMs, you name it. The data may paint a different picture than leaders and stakeholders expect. That’s a good thing because when we talk about how to review your year as an entrepreneur, we’re looking for more than the obvious. We want the truth.

2. Celebrate wins.

Let’s switch gears and spotlight your small businesses’ success. It’s not all about fixing what’s broken; it’s also about celebrating what’s working.

  • Exceeding Revenue Targets
  • A Growing Customer Base
  • Resilience in Tough Times
  • A Thriving Team Culture

Celebrating wins is about recognizing what’s working and building on those achievements.

3. Perform an honest self-assessment.

We’re not dwelling on mistakes here. Think of this as an early brainstorming session for next year’s goals. Domains and critical elements to consider include:

  • Procrastination and Distraction: Where do you lose focus during your work?
  • Skills and Behaviors: Are there any skill gaps that must be addressed?
  • Teamwork and Communication: Has anything important been lost in translation? Between whom?
  • Time Management: Where are you wasting minutes? How many meetings could have been emails?
  • Changes That Impacted Company’s Performance: New technology? New talent? New location? Operational changes?

Collecting human data is what you need to gain a competitive advantage in the year ahead.

4. Review mistakes and look for feedback.

It’s time to be critical because you need a crystal-clear picture of where you stand now and a broad picture of where you’re headed. You’ll want to reflect on the following:

  • Achievements vs. Setbacks: Celebrate the victories, big and small, but also take a hard look at where things went sideways. What needs to change moving forward?
  • Communication Check: How’s the entire team doing? Are you in sync, or are you playing a game of telephone? What needs to change, if anything?
  • Spotlight on Team Dynamics: Everyone’s contribution counts, but let’s be honest about where each member shines and where they, and you, can make positive changes.
  • Adaptability and Learning: Assess how well the team rolled with the punches the prior year and what they may be facing in the next twelve months.
  • Handling Stress and Workload: Discussing stress and workload management is crucial to businesses. A burnt-out team is no good to anyone. Meanwhile, how are you doing? Is anything in your personal life becoming a business problem or vice versa?

This annual process is the first step in turning reflection into action.

5. Map your future goals.

What are the components of goal setting in entrepreneurship? Here’s how I see it:

  • Create a pass/needs work/fail sheet: Take a good, hard look at how your business performed with past offerings and strategies. What worked? What didn’t? If an offering ends up in the “fail” column, was this failure a function of the product or the execution? Talk through it. Keep notes. Publish your findings to the team.
  • Continue to do what earns. Explore what earns more: Stay sharp on market trends and the relevance and demand for your core product or service in the past and in the future. Are you spending more time on activities that make less money than other comparable activities?
  • Review Customer Feedback: Use client feedback to refine your offerings. Gather all online reviews together in a single document. Look for common themes, e.g., customer service, professionalism, results.
  • Streamline Simple Processes: Efficiency is your team’s best friend. Look for ways to ensure every minute is used to its greatest potential.
  • Empowering Your Team: Invest in your team’s continued growth in tangible ways as your business expands.

When I talk goals with my team, I stick to the trusty acronym: S.M.A.R.T. What are S.M.A.R.T. goals? See below.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Goal setting is not brainstorming. It’s a structured activity. Apply S.M.A.R.T. principles and keep your team focused on them. Meetings are more productive and collegial when you get rid of speculation and off-the-wall ideas.

Did you have a tax plan last year?

If you own a business with an annual revenue of $500K or above, you are leaving money on the table if you’re not structuring your financials and accounting to maximize tax savings, deductions, and credits. This is called tax planning, and you need it now.

Let’s talk about a 2024 tax plan. Schedule a consultation here.

Talk soon,
Jeremy A. Johnson, CPA

Meet the Author
Jeremy A. Johnson, CPA, is an expert in strategic tax planning, accounting, CFO services, and thought leadership.

Jeremy writes for small business owners who need actionable information on tax strategy, efficient accounting practices, and plans for long-term growth.

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