Reflection : a pause that allows you to stop, think and carefully consider what has happened in the past, giving you time to analyse the consequences and results of an action or event.
When do you find the time to stop and reflect on your business? December is the perfect time to look back on the year as a whole, considering what you’ve learnt in the past 12 months and acknowledging and celebrating your ‘wins’.
For many businesses, December can be a mixture of pleasure and pain! And not just because of all the end of year celebrations and bleary mornings. During the lead up to Christmas, there is often a frenzy of activity, especially for those businesses supplying products and services which complement social events and gift-giving. Business owners may have expectations of high turnover and growth during this time but also know that sales are likely to come to a grinding halt as soon as Christmas Eve hits, leaving an impact well into January and the New Year when customers tighten their belts or take family holidays.
Business leaders, though, are generally well prepared for this silly season, and appreciate the time to step back and relax, going into the New Year with renewed enthusiasm.
At District32 we use the time to reflect on all that worked well (and what didn’t), which also then allows us to plan and look forward to the future. Here are the top 10 questions we use to reflect on the achievements of the year:
1. How have our products and services changed?
A great way of assessing how much has been achieved over a period of time is to consider how your business offerings have changed. Have you diversified your products or broken into new markets? Have you suddenly found you are moving in a positive new direction? It’s not until we fully reflect on the changes that have been made, that we realise how much has been accomplished.
2. Are we targeting the same market?
If your products and services have changed, then it’s highly likely you need to reflect on your marketing strategy. Are you still targeting the same customers as 12 months ago? Having the time to understand what your customers really want is imperative to improving your marketing strategy. Reassessing your customers and understanding market changes will help you create a strategic update to your marketing plan.
3. How are we comparing to our competitors?
Again, particularly if your products and services have changed, it’s worthwhile looking at your competitors, your branding and where you position yourself in the marketplace. Knowing where you compare and what your competitors are doing, will help you to set goals for the future.
4. How have we grown throughout the year – did we reach our goals?
Look back at last year’s goals and reflect on everything you have achieved. There may still be goals left unchecked, however, it may be because you have moved in a new direction and they are no longer relevant. If you have moved in a new direction, you’ve probably kicked other goals. Sometimes though, those goals form last year may still be relevant so you can add them to next year’s list!
5. Did we have the right skill set required to reach our goals?
On reflection, perhaps you didn’t have the correct skill set needed to reach some of the goals set. If it’s a question of skill set, in what way could you learn to increase the skills required? Perhaps you or your staff may need some training. Talk to your staff too and find out how they are feeling about training and learning new skills. Reflecting on this will add some clarity to gaps in skill levels within your organisation.
6. Have we been prepared to ask for help?
Were there any instances during the year where you needed help and didn’t ask for it? Acknowledging we need assistance in some areas or our business is important for growth and learning. Reflecting on ways you could have asked for help is a valuable tool moving forward.
7. Has our management style changed?
If you employed staff, obtained more staff, or found ways to delegate, it’s likely your style of management has changed. This can either be a strategic decision or something that has crept up on you by surprise. It’s worth reflecting on the pros and cons of how a change in management style has affected you both personally and professionally.
8. Changes to SWOT Analysis and business plan?
Reflecting on all the above questions will make it easier to analyse your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as clarify what will change in the business plan for the coming year. Move into the New Year with an updated plan and understanding of what you want to achieve in 3 months, 6 months and 12 months.
9. What did we learn?
One of your most important reflections is to fully understand what has been learnt and how you have grown throughout the previous year. These experiences will support you through any opportunities or hurdles that may present themselves in the coming months.
10. What were our biggest wins?
Reflecting on these questions has likely prompted memories of some of your wins, big and small, for the year. It’s not until we sit and consider just how much has been accomplished that we realise the extent of what we have achieved. Make sure you write down, share and celebrate your wins in a big way. Acknowledge your accomplishments and share them with your staff, friends and family. This will take you into the next year with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.
We hope these questions are as helpful for you in your business as they are for us here at District32 and that the small window of rest and reflection coming up will set you up for a positive, motivational and inspirational 2022.
“Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success.”
– Richard Carlson