As the calendar year approaches its end, there’s a lot on the plate of most small business owners. From preparing for the holiday push to making time for yourself and your employees’ enjoyment of some hard earned time with their friends and families, it can be a busy time of year indeed. One of the items that may go neglected in the calendrical whirlwind that is year-end may be of much greater importance than you might think. Namely, the end of the year is a good time to consider conducting reviews of your business goals, marketing efforts, and employee performance. Small businesses in particular, in accordance with their increased level of operational independence and generally less complex requirements for internal accountability, ought to make a point of a structured end of year review in order to plan effectively for the next.
The success of an end of year review depends on setting out clearly defined parameters for your information. First off, define what your “body of work” constitutes. If you make widgets, the total number of widgets made might be your body of work. It could be the number of customers you served, the number of bookings you made, or every deliverable you were able to send completed to a client. Having defined this body of work, you can now apply whatever metrics are most relevant to assess its performance. This can be a personal decision driven by your business’ culture: is the quality of widget, or the customer satisfaction, more important than the sales volume? How might these two be related? Which of these metrics is more meaningful in the context of your business’ performance improvement? These questions will influence the data you choose to interpret and the methods by which you will learn from it.
Of course, aside from performance benchmarks, employees are the heart of every small business. What are you doing to show them they’re appreciated? Take a good look at your workforce and ask yourself what you can do to help them become more engaged and more productive in 2015. Are your employees asking for more flexible schedules or more training opportunities? Would your staff benefit from an off-site retreat or team-building program? If your budget is tight and offering raises isn’t a viable option, small perks like these can do a lot to make top talent feel valued in the coming year.
Your end of year review need not be a time for stress or conflict. Tailoring the process around your small business’ company culture will yield results that will help your bottom line, productivity, and attitude in the year to come.