Looking Back, Looking Ahead

The end of the year naturally makes us look back at the year’s events. Too often, however, we look back at our business’s ups and downs, with a focus on the “downs.” We beat ourselves up over what we didn’t achieve and the plans that failed to materialize. If this was the year you hoped to start a business, but didn’t, you might be even more down on yourself. Well, snap out of it! This year, as you look back, choose to focus on the positive. Here are five questions to consider, and five action steps to take to put your business (or your business plans) on the path to success in 2012: 1. What goals did you achieve this year? Think back over your business plans for 2011 (hopefully, you’ve got a business plan to refer to, even if it’s just written on note paper). Give yourself credit for what you achieved—even for taking partial steps toward your goals. Action step: Determine what’s needed to follow through and either reach your goals or take them to the next level. 2. What goals did you fail to achieve this year? Don’t beat yourself up about this—but learn from it. Was there a good reason you didn’t reach these goals? Maybe you decided they didn’t make sense to pursue, or you went in another (better) direction. But if there are goals you wish you had achieved, assess the reasons for the failure. Action step: Figure out what you can do differently this year to achieve those goals. 3. What did you learn this year? Did you gain new skills (learn social media, understanding your financial statements, pursuing government contracts)? Give yourself credit and assess how much of what you learned helped your business grow. Action step: Choose three new skills to learn this year that will move your business forward. 4. What relationships did you start this year? Did you join new organizations or meet new people (either online or off) that could lead to bigger, better things? Maybe you met a potential investor, partner or major customer. Action step: Make a plan for following up with those new people and getting more involved with those organizations in 2012. But don’t rest on those laurels, map out a plan to make more contacts next year. 5. What did you love and hate this year? We’ve all got aspects of our business that we love working on and others that we dread. Think about what you felt passionate about this year, and what you hated doing. Action step: Whether by delegating, outsourcing or shifting your focus, think about how you could do more of what you love and less of what you hate in 2012. Need more help figuring out how to reach your business goals? SCORE mentors can help. Visit SCORE’s website to get matched with a mentor and get free business advice 24/7.
Rieva Lesonsky
<div> <span style="color: rgb(114, 114, 114); font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20.399999618530273px; background-color: rgb(251, 251, 251);">Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. </span></div> <div> <a href="http://www.growbizmedia.com/" style="outline-width: 0px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 25px; font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20.399999618530273px; background-color: rgb(251, 251, 251);" target="_blank">www.growbizmedia.com</a> | <a href="http://www.twitter.com/rieva" style="outline-width: 0px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 25px; font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20.399999618530273px; background-color: rgb(251, 251, 251);" target="_blank">@rieva</a><span style="color: rgb(114, 114, 114); font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20.399999618530273px; background-color: rgb(251, 251, 251);"> | </span><a href="/author/Rieva-Lesonsky/all-posts" style="outline-width: 0px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 25px; font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20.399999618530273px; background-color: rgb(251, 251, 251);" target="_blank">More from Rieva</a></div>

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