And just like that, we’re almost through 2019. Seriously, where does the time go? Each year seems to go by quicker than the last.
Although the year is winding down, it’s critical to close out 2019 with a bang in order to enter the new decade with momentum.
To accomplish this, look back on the year to date and evaluate progress relative to your annual goals. What went right? Is this success repeatable? What went wrong? Is it something within your control … or was it simply not achievable?
Perspective is important, as it helps you appreciate your strengths and opportunities, like what your company improved upon and where your company has more room to grow.
As you and your company close out the decade, here are a few things to consider when you evaluate your 2019 performance and formulate your 2020 strategy.
Revisit and evaluate your 2019 goals
Keeping the “big picture” in mind, it’s important to identify and understand the primary drivers of your business.
Client Diversification. Is your client base diversified? In other words, what percentage of your company’s earnings is derived from your top three clients? If you’re not comfortable with this number, you may want to prioritize: (a) acquiring new clients; or (b) increasing sales to existing clients going forward.
Marketing Channels. Which marketing channels are generating the most leads? How successful are your conversion rates? What factors are limiting or driving success in these channels? Perhaps your company placed an emphasis on digital marketing this past year. What worked? What didn’t? Taking time to assess and tinker with your marketing strategy is important to your business’s overall success. If digital isn’t driving the results you want, it might be an opportunity to revisit your print marketing strategy.
Role Changes & Talent Acquisition. Of your management team and employees, is there anyone whose talents are better suited for another role? Is there someone who’s being underutilized? Are there any glaring or not-so-obvious gaps that need to be filled? Transitioning existing talent to areas of need or onboarding new talent will facilitate smoother operations and maximize employee contribution.
Talent Retention. On the other side, who are the highest performing members of your team? Are they being appreciated and/or compensated appropriately for their work? Talent retention is just as important as talent acquisition.
Costs. What were the primary drivers of your company’s costs? Were there any surprises? Could you reduce or even eliminate any of these costs next year? There are two ways to improve earnings – increase sales or lower costs.
Culture. Does your company’s work environment promote the underlying values of your organization? Or – to put it simply – are your employees happy? You can have all the pieces in place, a detailed strategy, and proven business model. But an unproductive, apathetic, or even hostile company culture can ruin this framework. If your company culture is thriving, what ways can you continue to propagate the positive vibes?
Start thinking about 2020 goals
After performing this company assessment and garnering a clearer perspective, you’ll be well-equipped to start thinking about 2020 – specifically what you want to accomplish.
The beauty of annual goal setting is you wind up with some form of a template at the end of each year. Through failure or success, you learn what works and what needs tweaking.
From a high-level viewpoint, goals should have three elements: a what, why, and how. Here’s an example:
What? To add 10 clients to our client base in 2020.
Why? Because more clients should lead to more sales opportunities.
How? By implementing a more targeted omnichannel marketing approach.
Another example, a culture-focused goal could be to hold at least one team-focused event each month, like social outings, educational speakers, etc.
What? To hold at least one team-focused event each month of 2020.
Why? Because these events cultivate a positive work environment by emphasizing the employee.
How? By coordinating social outings – like recreational league sports or happy hours – and educational speakers.
Each individual goal should also follow a SMART goal format – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely – and relate to at least one segment of your business, such as marketing, operations, finances, etc.
Our initial example follows this format. It’s quantified (10 clients) so it’s specific and measurable. Depending on the size of the company, it’s not unrealistic – so it’s achievable. It’s also relevant and timely, as increased earnings are integral to business growth and it specifies an end date (2020).
At this stage, it can be very beneficial to get the opinions of your team.
Often, the best perspective is formed through several points of view. Involving your team in this evaluation and goal setting process provides a diverse perspective – plus, it can motivate your employees and help make them feel valued.