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I hope that it has been a successful year for your business and that you are starting to get excited about 2018.

Now as the year is nearly done and as many of you may be slowing down for the holidays, it’s also a crucial time to prepare, review and set your company up for an even better new year.

Here is a business review checklist of key areas you should review before the New Year.

1. Financial Clean-Up

You will want to make sure that you have entered all expenses and that everything is recorded and classified correctly. Scrutinize the financial reports and compare the changes from the previous year(s). You will need accurate financial statements to prepare tax returns and to assess your company’s performance.

2. Company Performance

Once financials are reviewed and completed, you can now evaluate the company’s performance for the year. You will want to consider revenue, assess gross margin and profit, and look at expenses.

What goals did you have that went beyond financial performance?

You will want to review your company goals- sales goals, internal goals, management goals.

Did you achieve everything on your list? Did you expand into a new geography or did you launch that new product line? If not, what changes do you need to make?

3. Meet with your team members

I find value in meeting with your team members each quarter to discuss their performance, to update them on where you see the company going, to get to know them a bit more and to see where they need help. However, it is also crucial to have an end of year performance review. You should be reviewing the overall performance, challenges, accomplishments, goals they had this year along with finding out their goals as an individual and team member for next year.

Allow the opportunity for them to ask real questions so they are reminded how important they are to the company and how their voice matters.

Consider planning a holiday party for your team as a way to come together and reflect on all the progress and growth!

4. Company Goals

After you examined the overall company performance and spoke with your team members, now is the time to meet with your business partners and discuss goals for 2018. The best goals are actionable. But it’s easy to forget this when setting longer-term objectives, so start with big picture goals and then break it down to milestone and smaller goals that are achievable and will lead to accomplishing those big goals.

You will want to create a specific action plan and arrive at a consensus and an understanding of the new behaviors required.

5. External Relationships

Now is the perfect time to look at those important relationships you are building with your vendors, partners and/or customers, especially those that are critical to your success.

You will want to examine both sides of the relationship:

Is your company getting value from this relationship? What changes can you make to improve the relationship that your business is getting or should you end the relationship? Are they benefiting from the relationship as well?

It is inevitable that if you aren’t benefiting from the relationship then you most likely won’t continue doing business with them and the same goes for them. If they don’t see the value, then they may be looking at discontinuing their relationship as well. Business only continues when the relationship is mutually beneficial.

6. Technology Review

When you evaluate the year, you will also want to review the existing technology systems the company and team are using. Are you paying for platforms you aren’t using? Do specific application’s overlap and offer similar features? How frequently are these systems being used? Sometimes if employees aren’t using a particular program, system or a piece of equipment, it simply could be because they don’t understand it.

Other times, the use isn’t really needed and your team just doesn’t need the software. Consider eliminating any unused systems next year.

7. Self Reflection

Now as you have gone down the list of essential parts of your business you can now take a step back and review your performance. How do you feel you did overall? During the more stressful moments of the year, what did you learn about yourself? Did you achieve your goals? What areas can you work on as a leader? What personal goals do you want to meet?

Have you wanted to take public speaking classes?  Is there a book that you have meant to finish? Do you want to hire an mentor or executive coach? Reaching out for help when you need it is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of intelligence and self-awareness.

Right now is the best time to review how you have done and where you currently stand.

Stay tuned for the next few weeks; I will continue to provide helpful tips and insights that will get you ready for a successful year.

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