Evaluate 2017, Plan for 2018
For SMEs, the beginning of a new year is a great time to gather your team (use the leftover holiday cakes; people will surely come around) and discuss what has been done, what needs to be done and what can be improved. It is important to evaluate your year so that you can learn from past experiences and set new goals accordingly. Here are some tips and criteria you can use to look back and reflect on your business in 2017.
1. Ask what your team members feel!
When it comes to business evaluation, one common mistake is to focus only on financial metrics for each department. However, the real power comes from your team’s thoughts on daily work and overall business direction!
Ask them to share their thoughts and insights about the past and the future. Find out how your team responds to the following statements:
I understand the company's goals and objectives.
I see a clear link between my day-to-day work and the company's goals and objectives.
I am satisfied with the direction the company is heading.
The company's first priority is always to add value to customers and their businesses.
Their thoughts on these big picture questions say a lot about their motivation, and would allow you to intervene when necessary.
2. Find out what your customers think!
Your product might be super innovative, but your business could still be lagging. This can be because you have not been listening to your customers.
From this new year onwards, make your customers the center of your business focus. Gather all the customer feedback you received through the year and analyze them. Also, set up a way, through social media or other channels, to be better at collecting your customers’ thoughts for the coming year.
3. Have a better view of your finances!
If you have not been doing so, it is time to understand exactly where your money is going. Calculate what percentage of expenses you spent on Sales, Marketing, Customer Success and other departments. Analyse which department needs more investment based on ongoing and future projects and macro business goals you have set. Even a small percentage increase can make a difference for certain departments!
4. Reacquaint yourself with your target market!
You may think you know who your target customers are, seeing as you’ve been talking and creating content for them throughout the past year. But buying patterns can change drastically with new technologies coming up all the time.
Take this moment to sit down and think carefully about who you are really targeting, whether there are new opportunities in the market and whether your customers’ needs have changed in the meantime.
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Take a moment and remember the goal you set last year. You might have kept repeating the same values over and over again, but are they still valid? You, your team, and your business are likely different from what you were this time last year. Adjust your goals accordingly.