The 8 Steps to Your End-Of-Year Business Review [Checklist]

With 2018 at our doorstep, it’s the perfect moment to learn from the wins and shortcomings of the past twelve months. Our guide will help you take the best lessons away from your end-of-year review, and find the answers to the following three questions:

  • What worked well and what didn’t?
  • Where are we now?
  • How will we achieve our goals for next year?

Our checklist will save you time.

We've put together a list of action points to guide you through the review process.

Click to download.

What worked well and what didn’t?

The purpose behind the first question is to have a long hard look at everything you’ve worked on for the past year and objectively assess its impact on your business.

1) Decide on what ‘impact’ means

Each business understands it differently. For a company relying on revenue from online advertising, the desired result would be increasing the levels of traffic. For an e-commerce, it could all be about the conversion numbers and whether a project boosted their sales.

Before you begin your analysis, make sure that you have decided on the metrics that mean ‘success’ for your team. Once you begin comparing your findings to these key performance indicators (KPIs), it will become more straightforward to evaluate the end results of each project.

2) Bring all of your work together in a timeline and align with strategy

Go back and track everything that you and your team have worked on for the past 12 months. The more segmented your team is, the more individual projects will start piling up on top of the larger collaborative campaigns.
It’s quite easy to lose track of everything, so try to align the work according to a timeline to keep everything organised-visualising large amounts of information can help you find patterns and connections.
Was everything distributed strategically? Perhaps the success of a particular initiative was diminished because your resources were spread too thin across the board.
Examine closely how timing may have influenced your results, and if there could have been a more efficient approach to managing the workload. Going forward, you can also take advantage of the timeline when prioritising new ideas and campaigns.

3) Compare results against the goals you set for each project

Did you achieve what you set out to do? While this might sound like a simple “Yes or No” question, it would be better to delve a little bit deeper.
If you’ve fallen short on your goals, what were the factors that kept you from succeeding? Or, if you have achieved them, try to understand the reasons why it worked out so that you can expand on these profitable strategies.
Sometimes it’s a case of resource management. A particular initiative might not have quite delivered because it was lacking the necessary resources-be it time, funding or the right people.
The timeline mentioned earlier can prove helpful here. It gives you a better overview of periods when resources were spread thin because of too many campaigns running simultaneously.

Where are we now?

Analysing the results of the year should naturally lead you to the conclusion of where your business is standing right now.

4) Examine the health of your business: number of customers, revenue and profit, growth rate

It’s time to look at the bottom line and see how the numbers are adding up.
Has your customer / user base shrunk, or grown? Compared to last year, have you increased your revenue? Are you making enough profit to continue as a business? The answers to these questions should highlight areas that need your attention.
This is also the moment to think about the financial health of your business. Budgeting is an integral part of strategic planning, and as a business, you may need to secure additional finance to fuel upcoming business ventures, such as launching a new marketing campaign.

5) Decide on your goals for the new year

Get the team together and put your goals down on paper. Make them very clear. This will be your guide for the next 12 months once the micro-tasks take centre stage again, so you want to make sure you can easily refer back to it.
Documenting your priorities can help you filter out ideas that aren’t aligned with your objectives once you reach the planning stage. Any time a new initiative is considered, cross-reference it to your strategy.
Does it contribute to what you aim to achieve? As exciting as a new idea might sound, if you’re struggling to see how exactly it will bring your business value, it will most likely just drain your resources.

6) Analyse your ongoing activities

While some projects will end with 2017, there are ongoing activities that will continue in the upcoming months. Having determined your core priorities for the new year, it becomes easier to see which ongoing activities add to your success and which might need to be paused.
You can go one step further and optimise the activities that you’ve decided to keep with the insights from your review. The tried and tested methods of the last 12 months can guide you on refining your daily tasks and improve the return of your hard work.

How will we achieve our goals for next year?

Your next decisions should be governed by the information you’ve gathered and inspired by the successes of the previous year.

7) Draw up a plan for the upcoming three months

Start by prioritising the objectives which require your immediate attention. This will vary greatly from business to business, but one example we can look at is aligning your projects according to major events that are happening within your specific market.
You might want to do some promotion for your business and therefore need to design promotional materials by a certain date, such as business cards or brochures. In order to make the most out of this opportunity, you might need to focus on prep before turning your attention to other tasks.

8) Break projects down into small manageable tasks

Goals like ‘Improve Social Media Performance’ sound broad and intimidating. When you break it down into a list of smaller steps-such as ‘Redesign Profile Images by X date’ or ‘Promote 1 Blog Post Per Month’—it becomes easier to focus on the specifics and achieve better results. Consider this as a ‘to-do list’ approach.
Having clear individual steps plays into another way to ease project management—assigning responsibilities to your team members. This way it becomes easier for each individual to understand what is expected of them and think of the best ways to deliver.
End-of-year reviews can be easy to overlook, especially when you’re trying to make that final push before January knocks on the door. But if you commit some time, the value they bring can considerably boost your performance in the long run. Happy planning!

Our checklist will save you time.

We've put together a list of action points to guide you through the review process.

Click to download.