As we enter the New Year I encourage two exercises: Look back to see where your business ended and look forward to plan for the future.

Looking back on the year, reflecting if you will, should be thoughtful. What did you hope to accomplish in your business? Did you meet the goals you set last year? What kept you from doing so? You need to look at this with a lens that is open and honest to recognize if you dropped the ball or if external forces got in the way. Measurements in your reflection might be financial (profit, revenue and cash flow). Others could be marketing and or/sales goals, operational efficiency, safety and environmental. The reason honest reflection is important – you can’t move forward with goal setting for next year without dissecting the reasons you hit or missed your present year targets.

Let’s say that you were the reason you missed your target. Was it time management or external factors. If you aren’t managing your time, then 2023 should have a goal of better time management.  Maybe you need tools to do that. Maybe you need to delegate tasks. Maybe you need to evaluate your processes and/or staff performance. If it is external factors then adjustments might be harder to make, but you should be able to identify things that are in your control to plan for.

If you aren’t already doing so, you should implement a measurement system toward that goal. We have used VTO from traction in the past. Currently we scorecard performance at AWC for each major activity. Additionally, we developed our own measure for board performance. We track special project achievement combined with a self-evaluation of performance. Using the self-evaluation, board members reflect on how they can improve their performance as a board member the following year.

After you organize your data it is time to set those goals for next year. When you set your goals there are different target types and measurements.  Determine how detailed you want to be in your tracking mechanism and set a schedule for Action Plan versus Milestone or Target measures. Get it on your calendar now. Give your self a monthly to quarterly schedule where you spend ½ a day to dive into this process.

There are many ways to track and measure data – from technology tools available to working with consultants.  AWC has members that we can recommend if you don’t know where to start.  Off note – I am not a data person and don’t like tracking and documenting.  That said, AWC has grown by leaps and bounds through our visioning and tracking systems we have used the past six years. We have the data to examine the organizations pain points and where to spend our energy to improve.

My advice is not to have a “New Year’s Resolution” mentality about this. Make this a true organizational assessment and growth strategy plan. Don’t create systems that are too complex or goals that are unattainable.  Set realistic achievable business growth strategies using the lessons from this past year.  I know how difficult it is to work on your business instead of in it, but your long-term success requires it.

— B