Your Business Year-End Review
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With the end of the year in sight, you’re probably starting to think about your goals for 2022. Me too! But first, we need to see how we made out this year. In this post, I walk through the process of conducting a year-end review in your business.
1 – Review your goals and outcomes
I begin my year-end review by looking at the goals I set and assessing the outcomes.
Some goals are just general ideas about improvements I can make.
For example, one of my goals for 2021 was to learn to use OneNote more efficiently. I’m now using it as a central spot for storing notes about my routines, client websites, and much more. This is saving me a lot of time, which is great, but because my goal was neither specific nor measurable, it’s hard to say whether I fully achieved it.
That’s why all the experts recommend SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
One of my other goals was to sign up ten new Website Care Plans over the course of the year. Because this one is a SMART goal, it’s easy to determine whether I succeeded. I’m not quite there, but the year’s not over yet either!
2 – Review where your business came from
Before you begin planning for next year, it’s helpful to understand how new clients heard about you.
Collecting this information can be as simple as adding the question to the contact form on your website or remembering to ask every time you receive an inquiry, but to get a good overall picture, you need a system for tracking this information.
This will help you discover which of your marketing and/or advertising methods are most effective. You can then improve those that are less effective or even scrap them, freeing up time, money and resources for others that will be more useful.
Since 2008 I’ve consistently found that the majority of my sales come from repeat business and referrals from other clients. Over the years, the second most important source of leads has evolved from local networking groups to social media and other online networks.
To keep track of my leads and referral sources, I’ve been using Streak, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) app that works with Gmail, for the last couple of years. It includes time-saving features like mail merge and follow-up tasks, but if you won’t use those, a simple spreadsheet will do just fine.
3 – Review your analytics
As you study your business results for the year, you may review data about your website traffic, social media followers, email subscribers, and other forms of marketing you’ve used.
Increases in any of these areas might make you feel good, but the numbers themselves aren’t particularly meaningful. For that reason, they’re often referred to as “vanity” metrics.
Understanding where the increase came from is much more useful. For example, instead of pageviews, look at where the traffic came from. This will help you decide what to focus on next year. These are “actionable” metrics, and they go hand-in-hand with your SMART goals.
It’s even more important to find out if the increase in traffic helped you achieve your business goals.
While reviewing my Google Analytics, I was pleased to see that organic search traffic to my website almost quadrupled this year. I worked hard to achieve that, by blogging about topics that are directly related to my service offerings.
However, as noted above, this did not lead to any new business. This tells me that now I need to improve my website so new visitors are more likely to contact me, or at least join my mailing list so they don’t forget about me.
How did you make out this year?
Position yourself for success in 2022 by scheduling a personalized year-end review of your website!
I love the idea of reviewing and planning…and this is a great time of year to do it. Typically, I incorporate something right before New Year’s Eve. I do my own reviewing and future thinking. Sometimes I incorporate some of these reflections into our New Year’s Eve gatherings with our guests. I especially love the reviewing the past year part. When we’re in the thick of things, we don’t always stop to recognize how much has transpired, been accomplished, or overcome. I know the clock is ticking as we near December 31st, so I especially appreciate your reminder or nudge that now is the time. Thank you, Janet.
I’ve read about your New Year’s Eve gatherings in the past, and think you have some wonderful, non-traditional traditions. It’s hard to believe 2021 is already drawing to an end!
I love that you mentioned reviewing where the traffic came from. I always believed that using organic traffic was more important than social media traffic when you have a blog. It is also good to look at other metrics like Google Analytics 4 (just released in 2021) engagement to determine what people are doing when they visit your site, from pageviews to scrolling; it gives a lot of information.
I’m curious about your thought why you think organic traffic is better than social media traffic. Is it because people who see your social media posts probably already know about your business, but people who have found you on the search engines probably don’t?
I am constantly tweaking my website, but sometimes one change leads to another and it’s hard to manage all the pages that refer to all the other pages that may no longer exist. That’s one thing I’ll be looking at, as well as converting from an expensive newsletter platform to a maybe-free one. Glad to have a Website Care Plan, and you, Janet, as a resource!
That’s a big job, but the Broken Link Checker can be really helpful. It’s probably too late to mention it now but it’s a good idea, when you delete a page, to redirect it to another one to cut down on the number of broken links.
I was surprised to see how many of my blog readers come from Pinterest. Great idea to review these things and adjust my investment accordingly. I’ve tried to do more on Pinterest as a result, and will continue to do so this year!
Ooh, that’s exciting! At one time Pinterest was one of my top three sources, but not anymore. You are obviously doing something right, so to do more of that is a good idea!
Thank you for these ideas. I just added “review Google analytics” to my task list!
Yay, Melissa! I’m always happy when my posts inspire others to do something.
“Organic search traffic to my website almost quadrupled this year.” Wahoo, Janet! This is the growth that counts IMHO – social media platforms can come and go, algorithms can change on a dime, but organic search isn’t going anywhere. Great job!
Thanks, Lucy! Even though search engine algorithms change frequently too, I’ve always believed that if you stick to the basics instead of trying to game the system, it will bring good, long-lasting results.
I set aside this Friday to do my year-in-review, but mostly to work on my first quarter of 2022 planning. I’ve been jotting down ideas and to-dos for a few weeks now, but I know that I need time to focus on this and create a timeline for all the projects I need to do. Doing this now means that I don’t have to be thinking about it over the holidays and then kit the ground running in January.
Janet, I think you’re very good about scheduling time to work on your business. You’re so right – if you don’t do it before the holidays, the new year is here before you know it, and sometimes we just fall into a routine without giving any thought to what we should be doing differently, or less, or more.
As always, Janet, you have the best advice. I tend to not set goals, SMART or otherwise. (I think I either decide I’m absolutely going to do something over which I have complete control or I get very namby-pamby about things for which I don’t have 100% say about the outcome.) This year, I think I’ll approach my year-in-review with a notion to how it’ll help me set more formal goals for next year. I think everything for 2021 was so nebulous (because 2020 was such a shock to the system), I had even fewer expectations for this year.
I definitely have to pay more attention to analytics. I know where all of my prospects come from, because I ask, but I don’t regularly attend to where my readers/surfers arrive from, and obviously that’s a worthy approach. I’ll be taking your advice to heart!
Julie, your comment reminded me of a speaker at a POC Conference a few years ago. He said that you shouldn’t set goals like “land three sales per week” because you can’t control the outcome – if they can’t afford you, or aren’t ready to commit, that’s not on you. Instead, your goal should be to “make 10 sales calls per day” – no one I know does cold calling so a better choice might be “engage with one new person on Twitter every day” or whatever makes sense for the way you connect with potential clients.
I think a lot of people had the same experience as you regarding 2020 and 2021. Hopefully the break from regular routines and ways of thinking will help us all to be more flexible and creative in the future.