Sometimes as small business owners, we may feel a sense of reluctance to look back – grateful simply to be in a place of success. Other times, we avoid looking back as we know that many mistakes were made and wish not to be reminded of them. Looking back needn’t be about regrets or wondering what could have been, however. It can be a great way of learning not only about our failures, but also our successes, as we are sometimes quick to forget when things have gone well.
Things that worked and things that didn’t
We sometimes forget to acknowledge the thing we did well, and often take the attitude of “why fix something that isn’t broken?” But taking time to reflect on our successes as well as our failures, and understanding what led us to them, can help us avoid mistakes in the future and give us a better picture of what ideas, initiatives and even staff members we should invest in to multiply our successes.
The first step is to be honest with yourself and avoid the blame game. Ask yourself what can be improved and what can be perfected.
Evaluate your relationships
A large part of any successful small business is the relationships we build and maintain. In looking back, ask yourself which relationships have served you well and whether those that didn’t can be nurtured in the New Year. These should include:
• Relationships with staff:
Ask yourself, how effectively did I manage my staff? Have I lost many staff members? Have certain issues come up consistently? How satisfied are my employees? Consider whether promotions, demotions, hiring and firing are necessary to move forward.
• Relationship with clients:
How effective were we in meeting their needs? What methods worked and which didn’t? Do our staff members have a clear understanding of how clients need to be engaged?
• Personal relationships:
How has my business affected my personal relationships and vice versa? Am I achieving a healthy work-life balance?
Evaluate your business networks
When looking back, ask yourself how effective your business network has been. Does your network need broadening, or are you better with a select few? If you did not develop a network, ask yourself why and consider ways of building one in the New Year. Getting in touch with local businesses and offering trials of your services can be a good way of breaking the ice and getting your name out there. Remember that the aim of networking is to create and nurture relationships before you require them, so when the day comes you have a pool of associates to call upon.
Evaluate your products and services
The New Year can be a great time to revamp products and services, so consider what modifications can be made to maximise profits. Avoid changes simply for the sake of it and instead look at what products and services have been successful and invest in growing them. For those who haven’t seen great success, determine whether they are saveable or if it is best to cut your losses.
Evaluate your marketing techniques
The period following the festive season can be a great time to market yourself to not only existing but also new client bases, as many clients are on the lookout for new services as they strive to make a fresh start of their own. Look at the possibility of new avenues, such as online options, and have a frank and honest look at how effective your marketing has been over the last year.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Nick Petrovic is a registered psychologist and head of clinic at the Mind Profile Psychology Clinic and has more than 10 years' experience in the allied health and business. Nick has contributed to regular columns in more than a dozen business magazines and newspapers, advising on issues such as mental health, work related stress, strategic planning, business analysis and human resources.