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Look Back to Leap Forward

Time to review

While I don’t believe in New Year resolutions, I think it is always worthwhile to set goals to bring about change for the better. If the calendar and a conscious effort to embrace change coincide in this case, so be it. There is never a bad time for positive change-if only to take stock of our reality and reflect.

Change is inevitable, whether we wish to proactively improve or something necessitates it for us. Learning to embrace change instead of fearing it or becoming complacent is the first step towards improvement. Change happens; getting behind that truth is the only way to avoid having it roll over you. Becoming an agent of change, as opposed to a victim, actually changes the way we approach the present.

By setting objectives with tangible and concrete outcomes, energy and resources can be better directed. This helps prioritize and focus our efforts in the right direction. We are also more able to gauge success if milestones and measures are built in to motivate and ensure forward progress.

Make Review a Regular Affair

In short, a fresh new calendar year is admittedly a great opportunity to plan and set worthy goals.  That said, there is no right or wrong time to evaluate, it is simply important to make a point of doing so.

However, we need to step back in order to move forward. In larger companies, this type of exercise is often conducted around accountancy and budget timeframes. For a small business, it can be whenever you choose—as long as you do it regularly and consistently.

As a business owner, having the discipline to do a periodic business review can be a challenge. We are too often in reactionary mode—doing what needs to done in the moment—but this can only serve us so far.

When ‘business is good,’ it may be acceptable to push aside the boring paperwork for a while, but avoiding workplace realities until things settle down can become a case of too little, too late. This is why it is important to step back regularly to see where we were, where we are now and where we want to go.

If we don’t do this, it can seem like we are running on the hamster wheel which does not move our businesses forward. Not only is this tiring, many of you will recognize this as the same problems that don’t get resolved but come back in different ways. Some of these symptoms could be inconsistent work output/quality, losing customers (or employees) to the competition, and overall disengagement.

Building a Better Business (and You)

Approach a review as you would your business’ performance evaluation. This will include the operations and the staff who work for you.   These are obviously tied but, even with a ‘staff’ of one in this case, it pays dividends to think and plan ahead—personally and professionally.

Roll your personal goals into your professional growth and consider the following:

More than just your business

How is your personal health and wellbeing?   Is there a good mix of personal and professional activities in your life?  How are your relationships with others? The wellbeing of your business flows from how you are managing in your personal world. After all, as a small business owner, your company as often an extension or another aspect of “you.”

Build on your success

Are you aware of your profitability and productivity figures?  What business activities generate the highest revenues?  How can we improve? Are there products or services you should remove because they don’t fit your business objectives (anymore)?

Evaluate all the players

Do you use objective factors to measure success for your employees?  How effective are you at leading, managing and supporting your staff? Do you have the right talent or skill sets working for you?

Strive for something more

Are you clear about your business model and its value to customers?  Do you have an organization mission?  Do you set realistic goals for everyone on your team (including yourself)?  Are there issues that constantly come back that you wish to address but aren’t sure how?  Are all employees working efficiently and effectively?

Whether you have a little or a lot to work on, this knowledge can help you identify the priorities which will improve your business success. If taken to heart for the year ahead, it will also stand you in good stead for the whole year and beyond!

Amelia Chan is the founder of Higher Options Consulting, a boutique HR and immigration firm.  Amelia is a CHRP and RCIC who uses her HR and entrepreneurial experience to create practical operational solutions.

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