This is the three-step process for conducting an annual business review, specifically for service based business owners.
It’s about that time of the year to start A) planning for what’s next, and B) looking back on what happened.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty of conducting an annual business review, let’s start by acknowledging that this year was a shit show. However, I think it’s still worth reflecting on. Mainly because I whole-heartedly believe the best way to plan for the future of your business (whether that’s a month, a quarter or six months) is to understand what’s already been going on.
The other thing to note about this process is that it takes some time. No, you don’t have to spend a full day or two (unless you want to, like me!) digging into every detail, but I would recommend setting aside a few hours to really give yourself space and time. Your business is worth investing in, especially when it comes to figuring out where you want to go next.
Okay, enough of that. This is a three-step annual business review that I myself conducted just last week. The goal is to get a high level view of what worked this past year and what didn’t. This is not a time for shame or judgement at what you did or didn’t accomplish. Try to approach the process with an experimental perspective, the objective third party, if you will.
And, last but not least, if you want to grab the FREE workbook that goes along with today’s post, click here to sign up for the Brand Resource Library. Inside you’ll find this Year-End Business Review workbook along with a lot more goodies all created to help you build a consistent and cohesive brand.
Reviewing Your Client Metrics
As a service provider, we’re starting this review by taking a look at who you worked with this past year.
The goal of this is to see whether or not you’re on the right track in terms of attracting the perfect-for-you clients and projects. If you look back and realize only 25% of the clients you worked with were considered ‘ideal’, then you know what to improve upon for this next year. On the flip side, if you were lucky enough to have a majority of your projects and clients fall into the ‘hell yes’ category, you can analyze what made this past year so successful.
I also like to look at where the clients are coming from. Not just the ones who were ‘pinch me’ clients but also the ones who were not necessarily the best fit. This tells me where I should focus more of my energy and where I should spend less of my time.
Last, but certainly not least, reflect on who was (and wasn’t) a great fit, and why. What about that person or that project made it so much fun, or so not great. When you can pinpoint the ‘why’ behind a specific project’s success, usually you’ll find language to add to your brand messaging. For example, if you realize that all the clients you’d love to clone were part of a certain industry or business stage, you can adjust your website copy to be more tailored to that specific type of person.
- How much total revenue did each service and/or product bring into your business?
- Thinking about individual clients, where did they come from and how much revenue was their individual project?
- What client(s) and/or projects did you most enjoy working with, why?
- What client(s) and/or projects did you least enjoy working with, why?
Reviewing Your Website Analytics
After reviewing your clients, it’s time to take a look at how people are finding you. The best way to get an accurate picture of this is to dig into your Google Analytics and Google Search Console account.
By understanding the content that is driving traffic to you, you’ll know what topics and categories to expand on in the next year. For example, let’s say you’re a business coach and a majority of your most popular blog posts (or videos, or podcasts, or whatever content you’re sharing) are about money mindset, you know that topic is worth diving into further in the future.
It’s not just blog posts that you can look at but also your overall website pages. What page are people frequently landing on, or on the flip side, what page are people leaving on? This gives you an idea of what to optimize and what might be worth updating.
The other important analytic to dive into is the acquisition or how people are getting to your site in the first place. Is there a social media channel that drives the majority of your traffic? If yes, how can you make that better? Also look at search terms and see what you’re currently ranking for – this will not only give you content ideas but also give you a better understanding of how Google sees your site.
- What were the top five most popular blog posts and where was the traffic coming from?
- What were the top five most popular website pages and where was the traffic coming from?
- What were the top five search terms people used to find me?
Overall Business Reflection
This last part is a little more ambiguous – it’s not based on metrics but more so based on your perception. I’d definitely recommend grabbing a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine!) as you work through these questions.
As we think about the point of doing an annual review, it’s not just about the hard numbers. There’s a lot to be said for reflecting on how your business felt overall this past year. Because at the end of the day, we started our business in order to achieve a certain outcome, a certain lifestyle. And if we don’t understand how it is and is not serving us, then we won’t be able to achieve that desired outcome.
The questions I want you to ask yourself are not just about what didn’t work or what didn’t happen. I think it’s important to also reflect on the good so that we can first, celebrate, but also by becoming aware of those celebratory moments, we’re giving ourselves the ability to recreate them.
- What am I most proud of?
- What did I try that didn’t work out?
- What did I invest a significant amount of energy/resources/time into that didn’t pan out?
- What seemed easy?
- When did I feel most overwhelmed?
- What brought me the most happiness?
- What would I like to see more of this next year?
- What would I like to see less of this next year?
A Few Final Thoughts
You’ve heard it before but it’s worth repeating: How do you know where you want to go if you don’t know where you’ve been?
Reflecting on your business, doing an annual review, isn’t super flashy or glamorous. It’s not necessarily the most exciting work (unless you’re a tried-and-true planner, like myself!). However, the benefit of getting a clear snapshot of your business will help set you up for success in this next year. You’re empowering yourself to make strategic and educated decisions as a business owner by being informed about this past year. And that my friends, is a great way to set your brand and business up for success.
P.s., don’t forgot to snag the workbook in the Brand Resource Library!
All my best,
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