Well, here we are, closing out yet another year, and it’s time to start evaluating your business at the end of 2022 so you can set yourself up for the most success in 2023. Although it’s always a little difficult to predict what exactly the year ahead of you is going to bring, taking time to reflect on how things went in the past year will help you determine where the weaknesses of your business lie, what opportunities you might be neglecting to pursue, and what resources you will need to improve or continue building on the success that you’ve enjoyed in the past year.
A smart business that is doing a serious job of evaluating will look at everything from human resources to technology. While there’s no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter guide to a business evaluation at the end of the year (after all, no two businesses are exactly the same), there are some general guidelines you can follow to ensure you have a full picture. Here’s what we recommend:
First, Start By Taking A Critical Look At The Past Year
Before you start to look forward, you have to take a look back. What have you accomplished this year? What have been some of your setbacks? How did you solve challenges as they come your way, and could you have solved those challenges more efficiently? It helps if you ask yourself these specific questions:
Was my cash flow steady?
Although there are many ways we measure our success, such as making an impact in the lives of customers, we can’t overlook the importance of good cash flow. A successful business is in the black—it is bringing in more money than it is spending. If your profit margins were not as plentiful this year as they were last year, or they simply weren’t as great as you were expecting, it’s worth asking yourself what expenses you can cut. But be careful—there are certain expenses that, when scaled back, may affect your ability to bring in money. For example, being understaffed means you cannot sufficiently serve your customers, or a lower-quality product might mean fewer people are inclined to buy.
How am I managing my documents?
Businesses deal with a lot of documents—everything from client contact information to invoices. And in many cases, you’ll find you need those documents to be accessible, sometimes to more than one member of your team. Ask yourself whether your current method is as efficient as your needs demand. In some cases, you might need to move to a digital storage method, particularly if your business made the transition to remote operations during the pandemic and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future. Digital management of those documents means that everyone can access what they need even if they aren’t all working from the same physical office.
How am I tracking employee success?
This next question focuses not on your customers but instead on the people who actually make your success happen—your employees. Like the aforementioned business documents, it’s important that you’re tracking your employee success so that you can reward their achievements and constructively focus on the problem areas they have. Find a way to keep a record of which employees are responsible for what. Determine their ratio of success. Lay a plan for how you can build on their strengths. If you aren’t tracking employee successes, then you would have no way of knowing this.
Next, You Can Lay A Plan For Next Year
Once you have a clear picture of your business success in 2022, you can start figuring out what steps you need to take to grow even more in 2023. While there will always be elements of business that are out of your control, many of your weaknesses can be overcome by being strategic and thinking critically:
Where do you have gaps?
Maybe there are client accounts you haven’t been giving enough attention to. Or maybe there’s an aspect of your service where you consistently fall short. Until you have specifically pinpointed these gaps in your business, you won’t be able to fix them. Make a list of specific weaknesses you have and concrete, tangible changes you can make to address those.
What technology do you need to accomplish these goals?
The world of business technology is constantly evolving, and there are more resources and tools available now, at the end of 2022, then there were even a year ago. Any of the shortcomings your business has can often be addressed by implementing a digital system, whether that’s a CRM (customer relationship management) tool, which allows you to keep track of when a client was last contacted and who is responsible for handling that account, or a cloud-based storage platform, which allows you to keep important business documents in one place where all team members can access them.