Suzanne Lucas

6 New Year Reflections for Small Business Owners

When you’re an employee, your boss probably sits you down each December for an annual performance appraisal. Things are a little different when you’re the boss. Thinking about your new year reflections is entirely up to you. That shouldn’t be a reason to avoid it, though. It’s an essential part of running your business and seeing success.

Just sitting down and pondering won’t do you much good, though. To add some structure to this process, here are some end-of-year reflection questions to ask yourself so that you enter 2019 motivated, informed and prepared for whatever’s next for your business.

What Was My Turnover?

When you run a small business, you know every employee who leaves or joins the company. That might make you think that you can skip this step. Think again. Even more important than who left is why they left. Who quit, and what motivated them to do it? Especially if the employees who quit were good ones, you need to figure out what happened so you can make changes.

Looking at who was fired and why is also important. It’s easy to blame the employee when they’re fired for cause or low performance. In cases like these, it’s the employee’s fault, right? It very well could be, but take some time to consider whether bad workplace policies, a poor hiring decision or a lack of training played a role.

Are My Employees Happy?

While employee happiness is certainly connected to turnover, it’s not quite the same thing. After all, not every unhappy employee will quit. Some of them will stay with your company despite not being thrilled with the culture, taking issue with their schedule or nursing whatever other complaint they might not be voicing.

Give your staff a platform for providing feedback on the quality of their work life. Are your employees engaged? Do they feel excited about their work? If you ignore the needs of your employees, it won’t matter how good your numbers were last year — they could easily go downhill tomorrow.

How Are My Health Benefits?

Health benefits for employees are a significant investment, so it’s important to take a fresh look at your offerings each year. Remember, companies that cut their health benefits may save some short-term money but increase their turnover and lower their productivity.

So be sure to ask yourself what role your health benefits might have had in your employees’ decisions to join or leave your company this past year. Are they a recruiting asset or an area where employee satisfaction could use improvement? To find out, talk to your people. Then make the changes you can when time comes around, letting your employees know what you’re doing to bring value to their benefits.

How Are My Relationships?

While it’s always important to reflect on your personal and family relationships to keep them positive, you also need to pay attention to your relationships with clients and suppliers. Remember, even those customers who have stayed with you for years are being eagerly courted by your competitors. Is your relationship solid? Are you meeting their needs at a fair price and with great customer service?

Similarly, though your suppliers should be hoping to maintain your business, you also want to evaluate your relationships with them. Are they meeting your needs at a fair price and with great customer service? If the answer is no, don’t continue to do business with them simply out of habit. Take a look at your options and make sure you’re doing what’s best for your business. Remember, cheapest isn’t always the best — a great, reliable product with trustworthy salespeople can be worth more than a discount from a competitor.

What Mistakes Did I Make?

This isn’t going to be the most fun thing to think about, but going through where you went wrong is essential to avoiding the same mistakes in the future.

Don’t gloss over your failures — if you’ve come to the conclusion that you were flawless for the entire year, you’re not being realistic. Maybe you took a risk that didn’t pay off. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take risks in the future, but it can help you work out what kind of risks are more likely to benefit your business. Your business strategy has to evolve, or it won’t be effective. Let your failures guide your business to your next success.

What Successes Did I Have?

It’s not all negative! It’s just as important during your new year reflections to take a close look at the things that improved your sales, brought the best talent into your workforce or caught the attention of the most clients.

Celebrate your successes and make sure your employees know how their actions made the company better. This will start the new year off with a strong sense of leadership and give everyone concrete ideas for improving your business in 2019.

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