As we venture into 2016, small business owners and freelancers should take the opportunity to review their work over the last year in order to set goals for the future. Here are some components of your business worthy of analysis as you make your business plans for the coming year:
- Profit/Loss. This concept probably goes without saying. How much did you make (or lose), and how does that compare with previous years, and/or for the goals you set for yourself? You can’t set reasonable earnings goals for the coming year without knowing how well (or poorly) your business performed financially over the last year. Even if you just started your business, the sooner you start keeping track of your earnings, the better.
- Your marketing performance. Did you incorporate marketing strategies, and did they pay off? If you find yourself saying, “Yes, I used advertising, but I don’t know whether, or how well, it worked,” then this, in and of itself, is telling you something. You need to find a measurable way to see which marketing strategies are working for you. Consider using coupon codes or asking your customers how they heard about you and keep track of that information so that you will know which marketing approaches give you the most bang for your buck.
- Customer satisfaction and retention. Even if yours is not the type of business with “repeat customers” (consider the difference between a carpet installer and a landscaper, for example), you still want to be the first choice of your customers no matter the amount of time that passes between their jobs. Even if you never see a customer again, he could be your best friend or worst enemy, given the power of word-of-mouth and internet reviews. You should know how many customers you gained/lost over the last year, and use this information to set reasonable goals for 2016.
With a new year comes new opportunities, and only by knowing your starting point can you set proper goals for the future.