Reviewing the past year and planning for the year ahead
Reviewing the previous 12 months in business is vital for effective strategy development. This includes acknowledging your wins, learning from mistakes made, and thinking about what got in the way of unachieved goals set from the year before. (As a caveat: this is my third year doing this now, so having previous years of strategising and goal-setting does make it easier as I can build from those foundations).
Here’s an overview of my process and top tips for reviewing 2022 and planning ahead for 2023:
Before you get started: SWITCH OFF.
Find a quiet place, turn off your phone (better still, put it in a separate room), and centre yourself.
(Luckily for me, I was travelling by myself on a 4-hour flight with no WiFi at the time. I’m hugely aware of my privilege here, but it must be said that was a perfect, distraction-free, solid chunk of time for me to get my head down on this!)
Now you’re ready, let’s get stuck in:
As we get started, now is the time to take stock and honestly assess what you achieved, and where you fell down. Review your previous year’s performance against the key metrics you’d have ideally set from the year before - across finance, clients, sales, marketing, team… Whichever are important for your business. If you set goals from the previous year, re-visit those and see how many of them you achieved, recognise the wins, and look at those you didn’t achieve. What got in the way?
With this honest assessment in mind, define your KPIs, metrics, and goals* for the new year - across yourself personally and your business/es. (For me, I split them out into three buckets; personal, public profile, and Bloom, my marketing agency).
Goals must be SMART/HARD*, so you’re (a) clear on what you’re working towards, and (b) can properly assess when you come round to reviewing again in the future. (e.g. one of my goals from last year was to have “good sleep health” - but, a year later, I now find myself struggling somewhat to answer whether or not I achieve “good sleep health.” I should have set a specific KPI like regularity or number of hours in deep sleep, and then attached a specific goal to one of those - like 80% regularity, for example. On the flipside, another goal was to have expanded the team by two staff members by the end of the year. This is clear, specific, and measurable. The idea is that when you come to assessing your goals at the end of that new year, you should be able to easily answer yes or no!)
Prioritise those cross-bucket goals strategically. Some goals can set you up for success with the others, so they can be the focus. For example: I have three KPIs in the “personal” bucket; across physical health, mental health, and learning & development. If I have to ruthlessly pick one as the focus, then I select the physical health goal, as I know this sets me up for success for both mental health and L&D.
(Interesting side note: the word priority is derived from the Latin “prioritas,” meaning “first in rank, order, or dignity.” There can only be one first thing—one priority.)
Complexity is the enemy to execution, so with this refined, strategic goal-setting in place, it’s time to get into planning and action mode!
*Heartfelt, Animated, Required and Difficult (more here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2017/06/11/hard-goals-not-smart-goals-are-the-key-to-career-development/?sh=7449ff9b70fb)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie Melodia, named in the UK’s Top 20 Most Influential Female Founders, is the Founder & CEO of award-winning agency, Bloom - taking scrappy startups to sophisticated scale-up mode through brand performance. High-growth tech clients of Bloom’s have been included in the UK’s Top 5 Startups, with work also featured in the likes of The Independent, Sifted, Forbes, Startups Magazine, and Startups.co.uk to name a few.
Stephanie is also the host of the business podcast, Strategy & Tragedy: CEO Stories with Stephanie Melodia (available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify) and the Bloom Presents event series; an entrepreneur-focused series of biannual talks, including the sellout feminist panel events for International Women's Day every March, and business/marketing sessions in September.
Stephanie is also a contributing writer for Startups Magazine and has been interviewed by the likes of Tech.London, Enterprise Nation, General Assembly, Creative Entrepreneurs, LinkedIn, Roundhouse, Startup Hustle, Authority Magazine and ComputerWeekly.com for her expertise and thought leadership on the fields of entrepreneurship, gender equality, marketing and creativity.
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephaniemelodia/
Instagram - @stephmelodia
Twitter - @StephMelodia