“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot
As this year is coming to a close it made me think why we all think next year is going to be a better year. Next year is going to be THE year. Next year we’re going to bust through to the next level.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we focus so much hope on the future at the peril of our present? Instead of focusing on NEXT YEAR, what we should be doing the last two weeks of December is look back at THIS YEAR and ask: What in the heck Happened?
Seriously. We need to look back at this year and ask some serious questions and realize we are not going to like some of the answers. But if we don’t ask these questions and then answer them with brutal honesty, next year is going to be JUST like this year was and the year before and the one before that!
- Did we hit our goals? Probably not if we’re counting on Next year to be “the year.”
- WHY did we miss our goals. Really break it down:
An Autopsy of the Year:
- Were our sales off?
- Were our average sales volume per sale off?
- Did personnel issues set us back?
- Did marketing generate enough leads to give us the opportunity to make enough sales?
- Was are marketing effective?
- Was are marketing robust enough to support the goals we made?
- Do our sales team have the required skills?
- Did customer service positively or negatively affect our year?
- Did “I” lose my passion for the goal at anytime during the year?
- Did “I” want my goal or did I just desire it?
- Did MY efforts support the amount of effort needed to hit our goals?
- Did the market change?
- Did our business fall behind competitors in our offering?
- Are we chasing competitors in our product or following the pack?
- Did we set ourselves apart in the mind of all prospective clients?
- Did we set ourselves apart in our product and action with our paying clients?
- Were we AVERAGE or were we Great?
- Did anything happen that we had not anticipated?
- Should we have anticipated any negatives that occurred or were they unforeseeable?
- Did we make any mistakes?
- Why did we take the path(s) we did?
- Why did we not take any alternate paths this year?
- Did we have the right people to achieve our goals?
- Did “I” know what I needed to know in order to achieve the goals we had set?
- Was “I” an effective Leader?
- Did I give up?
If we’re looking forward to next year to turn things around, we’re looking in the wrong direction.
Next year is going to be a repeat of this year if we don’t take a moment to read through the WHY’s of the results we had.
If we take the time and do an autopsy of this year, then we can start thinking strategically about next year. When we analyze why things did and did not happen this year, our mind will begin seeing the “why’s” we may have missed. If we don’t look at the history of this year, we are doomed to repeat it again next year. That’s History 101.
We can only grow when we learn from our setbacks and failures but if we don’t acknowledge what areas were setbacks and what were failures its not reasonable to expect to learn for, we don’t even know the anatomy of the big picture.
Some things we could have and certainly should have done differently, and we’ll come across those if we ask the above 26 questions and don’t look to assign blame. The year is over, time for blame is past and leaders don’t look to blame anyway, we own the setbacks.
If we take the time to digest these critical questions of our business, we can see solutions we may not have seen when we were in the middle of “it.” We may not have an answer to all the questions the first time we go through them. Write down the answers to all the questions we can answer then set it aside and read through it again tomorrow with a fresh perspective. If we do this each day, we’ll find we can answer every single question with tangible insight in some critical areas.
Reverse the list for NEXT YEAR.
- What will sales be?
- What does our average sale need to be?
- What personnel changes need made?
- How can we increase leads?
- How can we improve marketing?
- How can we increase marketing?
- How can we improve our sales team and what should we improve?
- How can our customer service provide a better client experience?
- How can “I” maintain my passion when setbacks occur?
- Do “I” really desire this goal on a 1 to 10 scale, am I a 10?
- How can “I” improve my efforts to support the goal?
- What changes need to be made to match the market?
- How can we make our offering better than our competitors?
- How can we LEAD our market in our space…just one way we can lead?
- How can we convey to potential clients our lead/edge we have over competitors?
- How can we ensure our clients KNOW we lead in X over our competitors?
- How can we be Great in 1 or 2 areas instead of Average?
- What could happen that doesn’t seem likely that may negatively effect us?
- How can we adjust if this negative change happens to turn it into a win?
- What mistakes do we need to guard against?
- What is a path that we need to keep our eye on that we have not pursued?
- How can we be prepared for an alternate path if needed?
- Do we have the right people if not what day will we bring them on?
- Do “I” know what I need to know to hit our goal, if not where do “I” learn it?
- Will “I” hold myself accountable to be a LEADER?
If we take the time to really answer the anatomy of the year questions, then we can easily go through the following 26 Questions to Grow Our Business next year. Save both sets of questions and review the Growth questions at the end of the year for it will help us keep our passion for the periods our passion wanes by refocusing us on solutions we’ve already outlined for ourselves.
Next December read through our list of anatomy questions for this year and then conduct an anatomy of the Next Year we’re IN. We should see solid foundation growths in our organization, we should see maturity in our business and decision-making processes. We should see less personnel issues and most importantly; we should see This Year WAS a Great Year!
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