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How to Guide

How to conduct an annual business strategy review (Part 1)

“We don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on the experience. ” — John Dewey

 

The end of the year has always been a great time to reflect on the past 12 months – personal and business strategy. Also important for articulating your vision for the coming year. Reflection doesn’t mean wallowing on the missed targets or swelling with pride in your achievements. Reflection involves holistically reviewing the last 12 months to identify risks, issues, and opportunities for the future. Reflecting on past year’s business strategy helps your business identify:

  • What business activities went well?
  • What goals (financial and non-financial) were met, or not met?
  • What areas of your business should be prioritized in the coming year?

Setting time aside to reflect is important – even though as business owners, we are always busy. Busy with the following thoughts: how do we capture sales during the holiday time? how do we will keep the lights on? how do we empower employees? The best time to reflect on your business is before the beginning of the new year.

In the last few years, we have developed a framework for accessing the health of Vencru. We have also helped other businesses think through their business strategy. This annual review is useful to identify strengths and targets for the future. It is also useful to identify areas of weakness or blind spots in your organization. Below are the steps Vencru uses to perform an annual business review.

Step 1: Curate a timeline of significant moments from the past year.

Curating a timeline list is important because it helps you recall activities. Diving into this exercise without thoroughly assessing the entire year may result in a less-rounded reflection. One pro-tip is to make a list of monthly planned vs actual achievements and identify reasons for gaps.

Below is a sample template used for performing a timeline reflection. Download here Annual Business Review

 

Step 2: Categorize the key highlights across business areas to evaluate past business strategy

After completing the Annual Business Review, next catalog these key highlights by key business segments.  Vencru utilizes six business elements in its business strategy review:

  1. Customers: Identifies key highlights on customer growth and engagement. For example, increase/decrease in customers, repeat customers, feedbacks (positive and complaints), etc.
  2. Product/Services: Showcases products or services offered, sold or discontinued. In addition, it highlights non-financial impact (e.g. number of free services renders). This is also great to identify product or service utilization (e.g. breakdown for sales by product or service lines.
  3. Marketing: Review acquisition, conversion, and retention metrics
  4. Finances: Evaluate revenue, cost, funding, and investment trends
  5. Operation: Evaluate your business operation across the supply chain, manufacturing/development, and distribution activities
  6. Organization: Reflect on workplace culture, employee retention, and recruiting strategy

Below is a screenshot of the annual business review by category. If there are business categories that are light on information, review the annual business review checklist, and update again. Categories that are light can also be a sign of blind spots in your organization. Sometimes as a business owner, we may focus on one business area e.g. sales/finance. Completing the business strategy review will help with creating a better plan for the coming year.

Performing a business annual review is critical to assessing your competitive advantage and blind spots. At Vencru, we aim to help small business owners grow their business by accessing the right information. We hope these tips have helped you perform a business review. 

In the second part of these series, we will discuss how to plan for the next year by using your past business progress and future business goals. This will help ensure your business strategy is well prepared for 2020.

Want more business tips, templates, and guides to grow your business? Head over to Vencru Business Corner to read more articles like this one

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Vencru's mission is to empower the growth of small businesses. We started Vencru after advising countless amazing small businesses with great vision but limited support. With Vencru, you can focus on building your dream business - knowing that you have the information to understand your business better.

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