I always enjoy the start of a new year. Technically, the only thing new is the last digit of the number in the year, but it’s still new, and in the business world, that means you can start with a fresh annual P&L. Well, the same applies to individuals, too. However, we cannot hope for “new” and continue to stick to the same things we did last year, especially the things that did not work. There’s the story of a man who interviewed for a new job after working at his previous job for 20 years. He told the interviewer, “I’ve got 20 years of experience!” The decision maker looked at his resume and concluded, “No, he’s got 1 year of experience repeated 19 times!”
How can you make 2016 actually new? Here’s a short list of steps to make sure your year is actually new rather than just a repeat of the previous year.
- Review your year – pretend you failed, and do a post mortem. Go into this exercise as if you were done, gone, out of business, and actually review what happened.
- What did you like? What were the highlights of your year? Customers? New products? Accomplishments? Barriers knocked down or overcome?
- What did you not like? What sucked, and why did it suck? Be honest here. If you’re the founder/owner, it’s your fault. No matter whose fault it is, it’s your fault. Own it, and look deep inside at why it happened. No excuses!
- What worked? You made lots of decisions last year. Which ones worked and why?
- What did not work? And why? Again, be honest. It’s easy to take credit for what worked, but a real leader takes responsibility for bad decisions, too.
- What do you want next Dec 31 to feel like? I’m no fan of “see it and achieve it” but if you don’t know where you want to be in 365 days, how will you get there…ever?
I equate this process to what college sports coaches go through each year. They are doing the same job as last year, but with an entirely different team, chemistry, talent, budget, schedule, and slate of knowledge and experience. Sound like your year? It’s rare that nothing changes from year to year in any organization, much less a startup. Entrepreneurs and small business owners would do well to really evaluate last year and focus on what to change to make this year better.