end_of_year_review

If you didn’t conduct a review of your business’ performance at the end of your second or third quarter, now is the best time to conduct a review of your business’ performance. This will ensure a strong performance for the end of the year and set up a good first quarter for 2018.

No matter what type of business you have, regularly evaluating performance is an important way to make sure your business is healthy, growing, and moving in the direction you forecasted last January. Many small business owners take time at the first of the year to evaluate how they did during the previous year and establish goals for the coming year. However, taking a look now can prep you early in advance. Here are five common issues you might find if you revisit your goals now.

1. You might be doing better than you expected. Sometimes the issue isn’t an unexpected challenge, but rather a missed opportunity. A missed opportunity from an unforeseen change in the market can cost you money if you don’t recognize it. Although business might be doing well if you don’t analyze the source, you might not recognize a new product or service performing well or business you’re getting from a competitor that might be struggling. This makes it difficult to exploit the new opportunity to your benefit. Conducting your review now not only helps you end the year strong, but it can also give you a head start on next year.

2. Your projected growth isn’t what you expected. Many small business owners look at the coming year and make comparisons to the previous 12 months. Then, they estimate what revenues will be like for the next 12 months and forecast a growth rate. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of running a business that you forget to look at how you’re doing compared to your goal. If sales are lacking or production is behind, it might go unnoticed and negatively impact your business. Conducting regular reviews will allow you to dive into the root causes of challenges, make adjustments to your plan, respond to new circumstances, and make course corrections if necessary.

3. Set your business up for next year. Part of your evaluation should include considering how you are able to meet the demand for your products or services. This could include focusing on customer service, overtime, and employee burnout and turnover. Business growth often comes with investment—sometimes that means hiring a new employee, but it can also be infrastructure, tools, or processes to accommodate growth. Doing more with less is not a sustainable approach to accommodating growth. Conducting a review now gives you the opportunity to step back and look at your business with a critical eye to help finish the year with a bang.

4. Expenses are outpacing projections. In addition to making projections about growth, savvy business owners do the same thing with their expenses. They are aware of the costs associated with doing business and realize that profits can go down when the cost of doing business increases. Look at your ROI to make sure expenses are in check and make adjustments to pull your expenses back into line if anything is out of whack.

5. You’re doing something that’s negatively impacting your bottom line. In addition to the above, sometimes there are seemingly small and insignificant things you could be doing that can negatively impact your bottom line. Often, small and incremental improvements in the processes within a business can make it more efficient and profitable. If you don’t take the time to review and analyze, it’s hard to identify what’s holding your business back so you can stop doing those things or what could be helping your business be successful so you can do more of them.

Ty Kiisel is a contributing author focusing on small business financing at OnDeck, a technology company solving small business’s biggest challenge: access to capital. With over 25 years of experience in the trenches of small business, Ty shares personal experiences and valuable tips to help small business owners become more financially responsible. OnDeck can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.