It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning for next year and forget to take stock of the passing year. However, our insights from the previous year can make planning for the next more effective. For this reason, conducting a year-end review is an important and valuable exercise for your startup. If you follow these steps, you’ll start next year on the right path to success.
1. Come Up With a Plan
Determine how much time you’ll need for the year-end planning exercise and make sure to schedule time on your calendar for it. Consider which team members you’ll invite to participate with you and provide their input. Set the ground rules and your intentions. Determine your objectives, develop a schedule, and get commitment from your team.
2. Choose What You’ll Evaluate
Create a list of questions that will provide a lens through which you’ll review the year. Choose questions related to the year’s accomplishments, including details about what went right and how the goals were achieved. Also, look at areas where you failed to reach your goals and evaluate why — were the goals unrealistic, or was there a breakdown in execution? Bring in members of your team to help craft the questions and to answer them, as well as to compile insights.
3. Review Metrics
Analyze your KPIs, including revenue growth, customer growth, subscriber growth, and reduction in customer attrition. If you don’t already monitor metrics with your business, it’s a good time to start.
4. Evaluate the Year’s Strategies and Tactics
The nature of business is experimentation. And this experimentation involves strategies and tactics. Consider the strategies and tactics you employed for each goal you were working on this year, and identify what worked, what didn’t, and why.
5. Consider Your Team’s Performance
You should be reviewing performance with your team throughout the year and offering guidance on how they can improve on a regular basis — this is the essence of leadership. But the end of the year is a good time to review how your team members have improved and the progress they’ve made. Celebrate the wins! Also, consider the culture of your organization and your company values, and brainstorm ways to better align your culture with your values.
6. Establish New Goals
Review your goals from the current year and your progress towards them. What was accomplished? Which goals weren’t met and need a new strategy for execution? What goals need to change? Choose the top 3-5 new targets for next year.
7. Plan Future Checkpoints
Help establish a framework for a successful upcoming year by establishing checkpoints with your team throughout the year. One-month, three-month, and six-month checkpoints allow your leadership to check in with the plan to make sure you are on track. Checkpoints also provide the opportunity to either re-evaluate goals that may not fit given any changes that arise or to redirect if you are steering off-course.
8. Write the Plan for Next Year
After your year-end review, it’s a good idea to go ahead and document your new plan while your insights are fresh on your mind. Write down the goals for next year and the strategies and tactics you plan to use to achieve them. Take time to document the culture and values you envision for your startup.
Creating a year-end review is a powerful exercise to evaluate your startup’s performance against your goals and to set a solid foundation for next year’s planning. When you establish what did and didn’t work in the current year, you can create a better plan that supports your growth for the year to come.
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