In today’s episode, Anna looks at planning next year in business and how to review your business results from last year and plan for the new year.
Doing an annual review is important, first of all, for setting goals in the first place, and then for checking in to see whether or not you’ve achieved them. If you haven’t, then you can either adjust your goals to be more realistic, or you can adjust the actions you’re taking and either step things up or change the strategy when it’s not working at all. A second important part of doing this annual review is taking a moment to celebrate how far you’ve come! It’s so easy to be constantly moving onto the next thing and forgetting that just last year you would have been thrilled to be where you are now.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside
Hello there and welcome back as we continue to reimagine success in 2020, with a review of 2019 and a plan for the new year 2020, 2020, specifically now in your business. Now I want to really help you to set yourself up for success in your business in the coming year and beyond, and I wanted to make sure that that success reflects not just financial rewards, not that conventional definition of success, but also meaning and personal achievement, and of course this time of year is a great moment to do that. So although it is a bit of an arbitrary date in the calendar, the new year really does provide a great opportunity to reflect on where we are and where we want to get to, and in fact, we should be doing this at least once a year, but also really every quarter. It’s something that we’re doing now in the new business accelerator. We’ll be doing a quarterly business review of where we are, where we’ve gone wrong perhaps, where we’ve done well in the last three months, and then planning ahead to the next three months.
So if that’s something you’d like support with, you can apply to the next round at onestepoutside.com/accelerate, onestepoutside.com/accelerate, but let’s look then at doing this annual review. Now a while ago I saw a question in one of the Facebook groups I’m a member of where somebody asked, “At what point did you figure that you’d made it?” And I found that to be a really interesting question because when you’re first setting up your business, then the step you’ve taken even just to make that decision in the first place is a massive achievement. Having put your website and social platforms out there can feel like you have made it, and tada, you’re now running a successful business, but quickly you’ll realise, as I did, that putting up a website does not mean that you have customers and clients lining up at the door.
It doesn’t mean that you’re running a successful business, and at that point making it becomes getting your first client or maybe your first five or 10 clients, making your first 1K, whatever it is.
After that, of course, you raise the bar as you seek to increase your income even more, maybe to replace your previous salary, perhaps the six figures that you had in your corporate world, and then of course you’re constantly setting yourself new goals. So you might be wanting to add professional speaking into the mix or launching a podcast or publishing a book. So there’s never a point where you can say, “I’ve made it,” and then stop there. Success, however you’re going to define it, isn’t just that destination that you get to, tada. It’s more meaningful if you think about it as a number of milestones, the journey, the process of learning, growing, and achieving as you go, but of course the only way you can do that, the only way you will achieve those milestones and goals is by defining what those goals are and then working out what you need to do to make them happen.
So having no goals at all means you’re just going to let yourself be taken by the conveyor belt towards that default future that you’re not in control of, and specifically in business, it means you’ll be at the mercy of whatever client or project happens to come your way, and you’re going to miss out, especially on those longterm ambitions, the big dreams that won’t happen unless you sit down and say, “This is what I want to do,” and then take action toward those goals. So first of all, doing an annual review is really important for setting the goals in the first place, and then checking in on you’ve achieved them or not, and of course if you haven’t then you can either adjust the goals, you can adjust the actions you’re taking, or if you think that you have been doing everything you should have been doing but still not seeing the results, you may want to change the strategy as a whole. A second important part of doing the annual review, and it’s something I must admit I’m not very good at, is to celebrate how far you’ve come because it’s so easy to be constantly moving onto the next thing, the next thing, and forgetting that just last year you would’ve been thrilled to be where you are today.
So celebrating your wins and also learning from your mistakes and failures is a critical part of doing this annual review in your business.
Okay, so let’s get to work. Now this is going to be a super speedy review. I would recommend that you pause and take more time to reflect throughout the session because I’m not going to be leaving long silences for you to work through this at the moment, but I would love for you to grab a notepad and pen. You can pause me in the meantime and jot down your first answers and then come back later on to flesh out that sort of initial gut reaction with more thoughts, but do take the time now and/or later to really reflect on these questions. Again, not to rush into taking lots of crazy actions in your business in this year thinking, “I’ve got to get money, I’ve got to get the clients,” and so on, because if we’re moving the wrong direction, then you know there’s no point. We’re just wasting that time. So I know it’s difficult. Try to be patient, try to hold yourself back and spend this quality time on doing this review now and hopefully take a couple of hours later on as well.
Okay, so I’m going to ask you a first few questions and for you to, again, jot down your gut response, your instinctual answer, and then come back later on, but the first question I wanted to ask you, and I love this question, is what did you create? So what have you generated this year? How many blog posts have you written, podcast episodes you’ve recorded and published, videos you’ve recorded, live streams maybe you’ve done, maybe you’ve written books, articles, even just social media posts, emails you’ve sent, because although it’s the end result that matters, of course we want clients and income and so the actual sales and clients is only one part of the puzzle and we don’t have complete control over that. What we do have control over is the input, the effort you’ve been putting in hopefully consistently over the year, and that’s a massive achievement and it is the first step to getting the results as well. So first of all, what did you create?
Secondly then, what worked well?
Hooray. This is a positive question to ask. So what did you achieve out of the goals you set yourself at the beginning of the year, if you did set goals? What went especially well this year? What were the highlights for you? And maybe be even more specific. So what was the one thing that you’re most proud of? Did you finally get your website up, if you’re early on in the business? Did you finally publish your first blog post? Or if you’re further along, maybe you publish your book. Maybe you got the number of clients or exceeded your client target. Maybe you hired a first team member, so you’re beginning to outsource, which is very exciting too, or maybe you’ve really done well in terms of work life balance. You’ve taken the first proper holiday when you didn’t check your emails and so on, because that’s an achievement too. So what worked well?
And of course we do need to look at the other side of the coin, which is what didn’t work so well. So what goals did you not achieve, or where didn’t you do as much as you would have wanted? Where did you go wrong? And we’re not looking to criticise or judge here, but more to assess sort of objectively so that we can change things for the new year. So you need to really understand, is it that the strategy was something that would have worked well, could have worked well, you just didn’t implement the plan that you had, or did you do exactly what you planned, you did everything consistent, you did everything perfectly, and you didn’t get the results? Because understanding what’s worked, what hasn’t worked along that process will help you to know is it the strategy that needs tweaking, is it the plan, or is it just that you haven’t had the discipline to execute the strategy on the plan?
And maybe there’s one big disappointment you can point to that you really wanted to achieve this year, but you weren’t able to, and that’s going to be important for planning for next year, either to say, “You know what, I’m don’t want to do that. It’s obviously not a priority to me,” or to go, “No, this is the year. 2020 is the year when I’m going to do this.” So that’s the first piece of the puzzle, and I did say I would go through this very quickly. I did warn you. So the first session of looking at 2019, what did you create? What worked well, and what didn’t work so well? So if you want to, you can pause now and reflect more on those questions. Otherwise we’ll plough on ahead into the next section, which is to look at the Ikigai. Now your Ikigai is a model that I talk about quite a bit.
You may have heard me talk about it before and you may have seen the Venn diagram, the four intersecting circles floating around the internet somewhere, and this is a Japanese concept from the island of Okinawa, which is all about your Ikigai, which is loosely translated as your reason for being, your reason for getting out of bed in the morning, and the four circles’ intersect are that you’re using your strengths and skills, that you’re loving the work you do, that you’re doing work that you enjoy, that you’re doing work that the world needs, and that you’re earning money. So skills, enjoyment, contribution, and monetization. Those are the four puzzles, and I love this framework as something to really check in on where you are in your career and in this context in your business as well. So I want to ask you for each of those four areas then, first of all, are you using your strengths and skills in the business as it stands today?
Are you in your so called zone of genius and really making the most of your experience, your expertise?
Are there maybe gaps where you will need to do a course or a programme or work with a coach to upskill in a particular area? Or are there projects you’re doing that just don’t fit with your skill set? Maybe you’re doing lots of admin and accounting and it just doesn’t fit with, or does certainly isn’t your zone of genius. It’s not the work that you should be doing to really generate that work, the clients, the income. Secondly, are you loving your business right now? So you can never love each and every aspect of each and every day in your business, of course, but the goal here is to be running a business, to be designing a business that you more or less enjoy.
So are you overall enjoying your work? What are the projects that you’re loving, the clients that are a joy to work? And one of the projects and clients that are not so joyful? Third, are you delivering value to the world? Now this is a very personal one, and you can define what the world needs in many different ways. It might be thinking along the lines of your environmental impact or contributions to charity, doing pro bono work alongside your paid work, or it might be in more practical terms about whether there is an actual need for the product and service which you are providing, which of course is important, not just for the world, but also for you to actually have a viable business, because if no one needs what you’re providing, then you’re not going to find any clients or make money, and finally, are you earning the money, speaking of money that you want and need to be earning?
Where in your business are you earning the most and where are the opportunities to step things up?
You may have heard of the Parato principle, the 80/20 principle, which is that generally 20% of your clients, 20% of your projects are going to be generating 80% of your income and profit. So if that’s the case, there may be some clients, some projects, some little smaller things that you can actually sweep away without really affecting your bottom line too much, and it may be then that you can focus more on these clients and projects that are generating more money for you. So again, take time to reflect on each of the areas, strengths and skills, enjoyment of your work, value, meaningful contribution, and monetization, and then you can look at where you want to focus your attention this coming year, not necessarily to go straight to that magical spot in the middle, but at least to move in the right direction, to be circling in that direction.
And finally, speaking of money, this is not a financial analysis, and that’s a whole other conversation, whole other podcast episode, but I want you to of course look at your numbers as well. So the three key numbers from a financial perspective are total revenue, expenses, and then take home profit and salary. Simply speaking, revenue minus expenses equals your profit and salary. So of course I would recommend that you work with an accountant unless you have this expertise yourself, but at the bare minimum, especially if you’re starting out, you want to be looking at, “Okay, this is how much I’ve made,” and then to break that down into where is it coming from, what are the products and services that are generating more or less money, and so on. So in my case, maybe my individual coaching programmes, my group programmes, and my books and other projects I do, writing and so on.
Then of course expenses, it’s something we should be looking at much more often, but certainly, at a minimum we want to be looking once a year at plugins and software and courses, coaches, whatever we’re investing in. Just like you want to be cancelling your gym membership, if you’re not using that, for example, you want to be looking at taking out those expenses that you’re not using anymore, and then finally you want to be looking at what is your take home profit and salary, because it may be much less than you realise. It’s a bit of a shock when we start our own business, but we have taxes, we have all those business expenses, web hosting, and so on, and suddenly even though we’re making more money top line, we’re not actually taking that home. So very quick, but those are three of the numbers you should be looking at, and of course there are other metrics as well.
Maybe you want to look at your website traffic, your email list. Maybe that’s something you want to be growing, your number of email subscribers … what else, your social profiles, and so on. So do you have a think as well about those concrete numbers. Now the fact that I’m skimming over this is not because it’s not important, it’s just that these are things that we tend to always look at in business reviews, and I want to of course help you to broaden, reimagine what you’re looking at in terms of the business and look at these broader concepts of Ikigai, and bucket list goals, and so on, and not just the business metrics, but that doesn’t mean that those business metrics aren’t important. So do please include those in your review. Now this is a bit fast. I know, and again, I would encourage you to set aside more time, ideally right after this to continue your review.
If this is something you’d love help with, and let’s face it, it’s really difficult to do this yourself.
I can speak from my own experience. We are doing this again in the business accelerator, the outsider’s business accelerator, so you can apply at onestepoutside.com/accelerate, onestepoutside.com/accelerate to join us as we do a quarterly goal setting and business review, and that’s a really fantastic opportunity to do that together in a group. Okay, so that’s 2019. So zooming into 2020, 2020. Before we get into specific actions and tasks, let’s look at the big picture, and of course I want to ask you, what does success look like for you in your business in 2020? What’s the one big thing that will make the biggest difference?
Is it reaching a certain income level? Is it on the other hand, being able to work less, take evenings and weekends off, take a proper holiday with your family? What are those massive dreams that you’d love to achieve and that would make sense to prioritise this year? Maybe you’ve been longing to write that book or do more speaking engagements, travel more, travel less, maybe you’d been working one-to-one and you want to move into one-to-many, leveraging your time, not just working hour by hour and being paid contractually or freelancing, but having some products, leveraging your time better and doing so called passive income stream. Of course nothing is ever passive, but moving that direction. Do you want to or need to take out time for the business for maternity leave or parental leave or some other personal situation? So think really bucket list goals, dreams, but also more logistical, practical aspects of running the business.
So you know, it could be publishing your first book, it could be going down to four day work weeks, taking Fridays off, it could be a new income stream, but really think of the big picture. What would a successful business year look like for you in 2020? And then finally, a more practical piece, which is something we used to use in my corporate days at Proctor & Gamble, which is using the traffic light system of stop, start, continue. You can absolutely use red, orange, and green pens to make it more fun, or highlighters for your notes, and again, of course I encourage you to pause, come back to this later on, make sure you’re spending time on this, but you want to look at the things you want to stop, start, and continue from 2019 into 2020. So first of all of course, things you want to stop, so things that aren’t really working. What have you been doing consistently that either really isn’t making an impact?
Maybe you’ve been contacting a hundred companies a month and you’re not getting any response at all. So something’s wrong with your pitch or your targeting.
Maybe you have a product or a service that no one’s bought. Maybe looking at the Ikigai framework, you’re doing work that isn’t in your zone of genius or that you don’t enjoy or there isn’t any money. So of course in order to make space for the new things you’ve identified, the book, the podcast, whatever it is, you will need to take some things off your plate, and I know that’s hard to hear and I know it’s something we always forget. We have to take some things off, say no to some things in order to say yes to new things. So very, very important. What are some things you want to stop? Maybe you want to stop working late into the night or on the weekend. Maybe you want to stop saying yes to particular type of client or project, stop providing advice for free. So what are the things you want to stop?
Then second, there are things that will have been working well in 2019. We looked at those at the beginning today. So what are the things that have been getting results consistently where you’re seeing the greater proportion of the clients and revenue coming in? Remember that 80/20, and these are the things you want to keep going. Now on the other hand, it may be that you haven’t yet seen results for something. However, things like a blog, a podcast and so on will take weeks, months, even years to see results. So some things you may want to continue just because you have to, and you know you want to continue for a longer period of time before you judge whether or not it’s getting results. So do bear that in mind as well, and then finally, what do you want to start? So what are the new projects, actions you want to commit to?
Looking at those big picture goals we talked about, what are the building blocks? Maybe that podcast, publishing a book, learning a new skill, maybe you want to invest, or you certainly should be investing more money this year, perhaps more advertising, better systems, you begin to outsource, hire your first freelancer maybe to support you, a formal qualification maybe that you need, or maybe a new business coach, a more advanced business coach for you, and then looking at your metrics as well. What are the key opportunities? What are the new things you want to be adding to your daily to do lists to make a difference in your business? Maybe you need to focus more on building your email list, showing up more consistently for your followers who you already have, or maybe getting more active on a new social platform to diversify your presence so you’re not completely dependent on one thing like Facebook or Instagram for example, and of course what are other things you might want to start?
So maybe you want to start saying no to a particular type of project or client, you want to start setting boundaries so that you don’t work certain hours or days, and so on. So again, I’m really, really quickly going through this, but what are the things you want to stop, start, and continue, and do please come back to this later on again, and it’s just a really useful way to make sure that you’re not doing work that isn’t making a difference and you are making space for those new things, and also not stopping things that actually have been working really, really well, so you continue those things into 2020. So there we go. A super speedy business review, helping you to look at what success looks like, where you are in your Ikigai, what’s worked well, what hasn’t worked so well, and what you want to stop, start, and continue.
Now again, if this is something you’d love to work with me on either individually, by the way, or a group, do have a look at onestepoutside.com/accelerates to apply to the business accelerator. We do this every quarter now this year, onestepoutside.com/accelerate and you can apply to the business accelerator and join us the next round, or of course you can get in touch and we can get on a phone call to talk about individually how I can support you as well, but I hope that was a useful reminder, a kick in the right direction if you haven’t quite spent the time that you should have or wanted to on your business, and hope this gives you a bit of a platform with a few different perspectives on what you can look at in your business to move forwards and make it your best year yet in 2020, which is something we’ll be looking at here very very soon here on the podcast too. So thank you so much for listening. Best of luck with your review and I will see you back here next week. Bye for now.
Connect with Anna:
If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate