Your End-of-Year Business Review: Keeping it Simple

by Cathy Miller on November 29, 2016

business-review-postBlack Friday. Cyber Monday.

Sale – sale – sale.

This time of year brings one last push for most businesses. It’s also a time to reflect back and look ahead.

It’s time for your annual business review.

However, the busy holiday season does not leave much time for planning. That’s okay. In the spirit of gift-giving, I’ll share one of the simplest end-of-year business reviews you’ll ever find.

The trick to making this business review work is keeping it simple. If you’re like me, you can find a million excuses during the busy holidays to procrastinate. This review takes away those excuses.

Keep it simple. You can do a more detailed analysis when you have the breathing room.

All you have to do is answer the following
three questions.

#1 – What went well?

Start with some positive thoughts.

  • Think about the year
  • What went well?
  • Jot down what pops into your head

You don’t need to worry about the order or priority just yet.

Need some ideas to shake out holiday cobwebs? Here are a few to get you started.

  • How were sales?
  • Any new markets?
  • Any successful launches?
  • What exceeded your expectations?
  • How successful was your business communication?

#2 – What needs improvement?

If you took a hit in sales or incurred some other loss, areas for improvement are painfully obvious. The good news is it’s behind you. You’ve gained valuable information from those misses. (I promise not to say there are no losses – only opportunities).

Looking for improvements can be a positive experience. Improvement is found in your successes, too. Here are a few questions to jumpstart your review.

  • What could be better?
  • How was your income? Expenses?
  • How successful was your marketing?
  • How did each service and/or product do?

#3 – What’s next?

Take a look at your lists of what went well and what needs improvement. Keeping with the simple theme, list simple action steps for follow-up.

For example, if sales were better in one market than another, your action may be obtaining an analysis of results and scheduling a meeting with managers.

  • The idea is not to come up with a solution at this point
  • The goal is identifying successes and areas for improvement
  • Then determining the tools and resources for analysis

Remember, this is your simple end-of-the-year business review.

Keep next steps simple and manageable.

Simple Exercise

The 3-question business review brings focus during a busy holiday season.

Even if you did not set targets or goals for the year, the review puts you back on track.

On the other hand, if you did establish goals (and good for you), the simple business review provides a starting point for areas of review.

Compare your list to your goals. Use the lists to develop goals for next year.

  • What went well?
  • What needs improvement?
  • What’s next?

Still want help? Download this one-page form for the 3-Question End-of-the-Year Business Review.

Note: This post was originally posted on November 5, 2012. I’ve updated it with some new ideas.

For the visual readers, the following SlideShare presentation is one of my most popular ones (in terms of views and downloads). I first published it on November 3, 2014.

What business review tips do you have?


Helping you Keep it simple, clear & uniquely yours – contact me for help with your business writing needs.


BigStock Photo Credit


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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Hurley Hall November 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

Yes, that’s pretty much all you need to know. Good breakdown, Cathy.
Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..10 Reasons Why I Spend Zero Time Thinking About A-ListersMy Profile


Cathy November 5, 2012 at 11:39 am

Thanks, Sharon. You know I like it simple. 🙂
Cathy recently posted..Your End-of-Year Business Review: Keeping it SimpleMy Profile


Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. November 5, 2012 at 11:58 am

If you employed Key Performance Indicators- you could review your weekly charts to determine (a) what caused some weeks to be better than others and (b) what patterns can you discern, to make this year end process superbly qualified to prepare for next year!
Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. recently posted..Liebster AwardMy Profile


Cathy November 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Great tip, Roy. I heard somewhere , it’s not the number; it’s the trend that counts. 😉
Cathy recently posted..Your End-of-Year Business Review: Keeping it SimpleMy Profile


Ann Mullen November 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Cathy, you have produced a project that is so simple I might be able to do it, if I can remember what went on this year. Thanks.
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Cathy November 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm

LOL, Ann. This Boomer Brain understands. 😉 I hope it leaves you smiling. 🙂
Cathy recently posted..Your End-of-Year Business Review: Keeping it SimpleMy Profile


Anne Wayman November 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Love the simplicity of this Cathy, truly.
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Cathy November 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Thank you, Anne. 🙂
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Marcie November 29, 2016 at 5:55 am

I started this already and really to put my marketing and in-person networking with my target audiences on steroids in 2017. However, I have not written my successes for 2016, which I’m going to do this week. Thanks for this reminder, Cathy.
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Cathy Miller November 29, 2016 at 6:31 am

Good for you, Marcie. Wishing you a prosperous 2017! 🙂
Cathy Miller recently posted..Your End-of-Year Business Review: Keeping it SimpleMy Profile


Paula Hendrickson November 29, 2016 at 8:41 am

I’m going to have to try this, Cathy. As others said above, I love the simplicity of it.

It’s funny how I’ve already set a 2017 challenge and plan for my creative endeavors (for my personal blog), but not for my business.


Cathy Miller November 29, 2016 at 8:51 am

Thanks, Paula. Let me know how it works for you. I know for me, the more complicated, the less likely I am to initiate the task. This gets me started and piques my interest to analyze further to see what I can tweak.

Happy holidays, Paula! Can’t wait to see your creative endeavors. You are so talented. 🙂
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