Boy, I remember my first few years of business…
When I think back, I kind of cringe at some of the mistakes that I made in my first few years as a small business owner. Now, sixteen years later, I simply can’t believe that I ever made those silly errors. But the reason that I am still in business is because I learned from them. Every single mistake I ever made, I learned from. That’s how you make a small business thrive. December is the perfect time to take a good look back at your year, figure out what worked and what didn’t, and then take those lessons forward into the new year. Here are some of the areas I look at every December to determine the lessons that I have learned over the past 12 months.
How Robust is Your Online Presence?
Every year, technology advances and some businesses get left behind. Smartphones are getting bigger, the screens are getting sharper, and more people are using them than ever. This means that you are going to need your website to be as up-to-date as possible, mobile-optimized and user-friendly.
Take a look back at your last year and consider any feedback you were given about your website. Was it all positive? Did folks have trouble navigating? Did viewers stick around past 30 seconds? With this information, you can determine what steps you will need to take in the new year to make your online presence as robust as it should be. This could include hiring a virtual assistant to design you an entirely new website, or up your social media game.
How Did Your Marketing Efforts Go?
You should take a good look at your marketing efforts. Did you try anything new in the last year, like Facebook ads? If you did, it might be useful to take a good look at any metrics that were reported. How many people saw it? From what areas? What demographic groups? This information will help you make your Facebook ads even more effective next year.
Another marketing angle that you might want to take a look at is email marketing. This can include e-newsletters and email campaigns. If you weren’t getting the level of engagement that you hoped, you should look at how those emails were formatted, how they looked, and how engaging the copy was. It can be a challenge to get someone to open a monthly e-newsletter, a lot of people just throw it straight into the trash bin. A virtual assistant can help overcome that hurdle, increasing engagement and making sure that your email marketing efforts in the upcoming year are far more successful than the last.
Think Back, But Look Ahead
The entire reason that you want to take a look back on your year is so that you can apply the lessons you learned to the year ahead. If you are a small business owner, especially if you are in the first few years of operation, it’s essential to start creating a plan to address any mistakes made so they aren’t repeated in the new year. If you felt overwhelmed with the little things, it might be a good time to hire some new staff or even better a virtual assistant. If you found it difficult to manage multiple projects on the go, you might want to invest in a solid project management system.
A great first step of taking a look ahead to the upcoming year is to LITERALLY look ahead. If you use a calendar program like Google calendar, you can take a look at what you already have scheduled for next year. If you are thinking about going on a vacation, put those dates into your calendar. Any important dates that you know will be coming up, like birthdays and anniversaries of important clients, make sure they are already in your calendar.
Believe me, as a small business owner myself, I know how hard it can be to take a look back at your year. Even if you had a fantastic year, your failures or mistakes can really stand out to you. The trick, like with all mistakes, is to learn from them. If you learn from your errors, that changes the equation completely. They are no longer mistakes, they were learning opportunities! And those lessons will serve you very well in the year ahead.
In fact, let me do you a favor, download my free workbook that walks you through writing your own business plan! If you do one thing for your business before the end of the year, create your business plan!
If you’d like to contact me to talk about how I could help you address any challenges, problems, or difficulties you had last year in your business, and do whatever I can to make your business an even bigger success next year!