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The Encore Entrepreneur



Episode 28: How to Perform an Effective Year-End Review to Make Next Year Better

It's critical to understand how to perform an effective year-end review. When we hear about planning, everyone focuses on the planning aspect of it, but very few people talk about the review aspect. And as we all know, we can plan all we want, but most of the time, our plans don't go 100% smoothly. Right? Life gets in the way, things come up, and we can't necessarily execute the perfectly laid-out plan. So it's critical to be able to look back after you've planned something to see what was the reality. You need to know how you did. Did you stick to the plan? Why or why not? We'll dive deep into this topic, and you'll want to take notes!

episode transcript:

[01:01] Deirdre Harter: Have you started seeing all the ads and posts about planning for your best year ever? Well, we typically start to think about this in January, and you might be thinking, gosh, we haven't even got to the holidays yet, so why should I be thinking about this now? But what if you could hit the ground running with complete clarity and confidence on the very first day of the year that you are working on your business? That's what we are here to help you do today. We will cover the systems and strategies to put in place and when so you can set yourself up for even greater success next year. Now, we are going to do a year in review. Now, this is a process that Carmen and I have adopted, and we use it, and it has proven to be extremely effective. 

We are going to explain:

  • When to review

  • When is the optimal time to review 

  • What you should be reviewing 

  • Why should you be reviewing it 

  • What should you be looking for

Now, part of what we're going to be talking about is the metrics behind it. When we're tracking metrics, that gives us data, and these are the things that we're going to be looking at. We're going to be looking at what did we implement and what were the results of those things that we tried? This. Also, if you have ever been in Shiny Object syndrome, this is the thing that's going to keep you on track next year. And metrics and tracking are so important because you can only review what you've tracked. Now, if you haven't been tracking the things that we're going to be talking about, that is not a problem because we're going to go through this so that you know what you should be tracking next year.

[02:58] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yes, and tracking is the key, as Deirdre just mentioned. So we want to look back at the year, and I think this is so key. When we hear about planning, and we're planning whether it's your week, your month, your quarter, or your year, everyone focuses on the planning aspect of it, but very few people talk about the review aspect. And as we all know, we can plan all we want, but most of the time, our plans don't go 100% smoothly. Right? Life gets in the way, things come up, and we can't necessarily execute the perfectly laid-out plan. So it's critical to be able to look back after you've planned something to see what was the reality. And that's true on a weekly basis, a daily basis, a monthly basis, a quarterly basis. I mean, if you plan your days and you do a check-in in the morning or a review in the evening, those are the ways that, you know, how did I do? You know, I planned to do all this stuff - What happened? Well, we're going to apply that same thing to this year in review. We want to look at what worked and what didn't, and how do you know? And we want to cover all kinds of things. We want to cover our sales. Sales are something that, whether you've been intentionally tracking or not, it's pretty easy to get those numbers because you either earned money or you didn't, and you know when sales came in. So sales are something that is already being tracked for you. But we don't want to just let these things that are already being tracked be the only things that are being tracked. We want to look at sales holistically, from lead generation to conversion to sales, right? So we want to know when does a lead become a warm lead, and then where do they become a prospect? And then when are they a hot prospect, and then when do they become a client? We need to know how are we moving the needle forward in our business? Is what we are doing working? And we won't know. If we just look at the sales numbers, we could say, okay, great; I made this number of sales, and next year I want to make double that, or whatever your goal is. But if you don't know what led to those sales, how are you going to double it? That's the key. It's not enough to say I want to double my revenue. We have to know what are we going to do in order to double the revenue, and that's where the metrics come in. And that leads us into marketing. So marketing is another area we want to track, and that's kind of where we're looking at all of our efforts. And remember, we like to talk about in our Marketing Methodology Workshop that marketing is simply communication. So we are communicating with the world, who we are, who we help, and how. And so we need to look at our marketing and look at our stats from social posts, email opens, unsubscribes new subscribers. How are they coming into your world, and how are they engaging? Is what you're putting out there resonating? And we like to help people during our Marketing Methodology Workshop. I'm going to mention that again because it's very helpful to let people know how to connect with people on an emotional level. We can't just put things out there that we think people are going to want to hear. We have to put them out, put things out there that matter to them. So again, that's where tracking comes in, right? If you're going to put your posts out or your emails out, or your blog posts out, we need to look at how are they being received. Are you getting engagement? Are you getting more people on your list? Are people being attracted to you through your marketing? And I also don't want to overwhelm anyone. If you're brand new to business or you haven't been tracking this, as Deirdre mentioned, maybe you're not going to see that at first. Maybe you're not going to see much engagement. Don't let yourself think that if you don't see much engagement that it's not working yet. Because the other factor that comes into tracking is time. So we want to give ourselves enough time. And that's why reviewing your whole entire year after you've tracked for an entire year is super valuable.

[07:16] Deirdre Harter: That's right. And another area that we want to be putting some metrics around or getting an idea, something that's going to tell us what worked or what didn't, is our programs and our services, and our offers. So it's a great time for you to kind of look at how are they doing. And there are a couple of different ways to look at this. Number one is from the client's perspective. Like, are your clients achieving the result? Are you able to give your clients the result that they're looking for? And this is kind of an easy way to track Is through asking for testimonials because the testimonials are going to tell you. You can also just ask your clients directly, is there anything that could be improved? Is there anything you wish would have been included in the service that I provided to you? These are simple things that we can build into our process when we are offboarding a client that can tell us this can be our metric; it can be super simple. Like Carmen said, we don't want to overwhelm ourselves. And what we're trying to accomplish here is to give you the areas in which you should be paying attention and to be able to ask yourself what worked, what didn't work, and how do you know? And I think that's the key. It's how do you know? And this is a time for you to reflect; how would I know? What can tell me if this worked like I intended or if it didn't work? Now, a lot of times when it didn't work, we know it didn't work, right? Because it was painful, it was difficult. We remember that part, but we rarely take the time to look at the positive things and the things that did work. Another reason we want to ask ourselves these questions is if it's working, then we want to do more of that, and when it didn't work, we want to do less of that or get rid of it altogether. In the beginning, I talked about getting rid of shiny object syndrome, right? And also we want to do fewer things more effectively. And a lot of times, when things aren't working like we thought or we're not getting the result we want, we just keep adding to it. We’re just like, well, if I try this other thing over here, but we don't often take the time to look back at what did we do and why didn't it work? And maybe you just simply don't know for sure if it worked or if there was something you could adjust and tweak then that would make it work. So this, again, goes into these different areas. Another area that you can apply this to is the client fit. And by that, what we're talking about is, did you attract the right clients? And Carmen was talking about marketing a minute ago and that marketing is simply communication. And you can tell this is actually kind of a metric. You can tell if your messaging and marketing is working if you're getting the clients that you want to work with, that you love working with, and that are getting really great results. So this is another area to really look at and to assess. Like, look back at everyone that you worked with this past year and say, did they get the result that was their goal, that was your goal for them? And if not, why not? And it could be that they just weren't the right fit. And if they weren't the right fit, then that can inform and help you in your messaging and really reviewing. Are you speaking to the right people? Now, again, all of this has to do with metrics. And one of the first steps in kind of getting this started, if you're just starting or, you know, and you may have been in business a while and still aren't doing these kinds of things, you maybe have a couple of different metrics. But knowing what kind of metrics should be there is first; what do you already have in place? And as you're going through this list and as you're listening to this podcast today, brainstorm a list in these areas sales, marketing, your programs, and offers - your client services. And when we talk about services, it's more about the process; what's the onboarding look like, what's the offboarding look like, and then the client fit. Are you working with the clients that you really want to work with, and are they getting results? So once you've looked at those areas and determined what metrics do you already have in place, then you can decide what do you need to add for next year? So if there's an area that you can't think of, any metrics, you have absolutely no way to know, did it work? Did it not work? Then that might be the area that you focus on. And you don't have to do all the areas. You can focus on one at a time. And maybe once you get that put into place, you could roll these out once per quarter. Or if it's a big one, you can just do one at the beginning of the year and one at the middle of the year. But the most important thing is to determine if you can't answer those questions, what worked, what didn't, and how do you know? Then that's an indication that you don't know what metric to look at, or you simply don't have one in place.

[12:53] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: So in addition to knowing what worked, what didn't, and how do you know? We also want to look at what holds you back. There are a lot of things that could hold you back from mindset: Lack of knowledge, lack of planning and systems, lack of follow through, lack of time, or perceived lack of time; (Deirdre and I noticed that a lot of people think they don't have the time, but it's really a perception), and lack of capital. So all of those things could be one or several aspects that you determine held you back, or it might be something completely different. The point is to look back at your year, month over month, quarter over quarter, and the entire year to be able to identify what held you back. You might know that you've struggled with mindset really hard all year long. There might be some things that are really glaring to you. And we're not trying to get so in the weeds here. We just want to identify what held us back last year that we can identify because that indicates that there's a gap in your knowledge or your system or follow through, or whatever, that needs to be filled. And so, again, we're trying to improve upon what happened this last year. And maybe it was your best year, but you can still improve upon it if you had the best year that you have ever had this last year. First of all, congratulations! And then, second of all, like Deirdre said, we want to do more of that, right? What got it to be your best year? We want to do more of that. And then you still will have areas that held you back you can identify, even if you nailed it. In most of the areas, there's always something that we can improve upon. So we want to identify those things so that we don't just roll through another year with this thing that is kind of like a monkey on our back, right? That's just kind of nagging us. Like, my mindset is just terrible around this, but I'm just going to white knuckle and muscle through it. That doesn't work. We want to identify it so we can fix it.

[15:03] Deirdre Harter: Right. And you know, when we're talking about things that hold you back, if you're thinking, well, I'm not really sure if anything did hold me back or what I was being held back from. This is a good time to look at the goals you set last year. So typically, most entrepreneurs are doing the goal-setting in the beginning of the year, right? It's kind of standard practice. Everybody's talking about it; everybody's doing it. And so if you did set out goals or if you set out intentions or set out the results you wanted to accomplish, look back at those and then determine, did you accomplish it? And if you didn't, then these could be part of the reason. Metrics give us data. But we also have to look at the supporting foundation of our business, and our mindset, our knowledge, our systems; all these things are foundational to our business. They're sort of the infrastructure. And so that could be where the answer lies. And just like we're talking about what held us back, we also want to look at what propelled you forward. Now, a lot of times, there are things; if you look back and see what did you implement, what did you put in place? Maybe you launched a new program. Maybe you held a new kind of conversion event. Maybe you began a different visibility strategy to where you were going on to podcasts as a guest speaker or you were participating in summits. Whatever you did that was new, or you did a whole lot more of this last year, look at what were the results of those? Did it bring a good result? And if so, that's something that propelled you forward. And when we're looking at these two areas, what we want to do is come up with the lessons learned, and we forget like I said, we remember the traumatic stuff, and we remember the really big, like, whoa, that was amazing that that happened. But we forget about the things that are kind of in the middle of that spectrum. And those are the things that, if we're paying attention to them, will inform us what we should be doing for next year. And so you either want to double down on something that worked, or you want to stop doing something that didn't work. And a lot of times we get stuck in this, well, I'm going to do something different. But a lot of times, we don't need anything different. We just need to do more of what was working, and we need to stop doing the things that aren't working. And that's really hard for us. Sometimes we have a hard time letting go of things. But the metrics and doing this exercise, it's going to give you the confidence to let go, and it's going to give you the confidence to take the time you're saving and use it to go all in on something. Because a lot of times, if you are spreading yourself really thin in any of the areas of sales and marketing, a lot of times, it's because we aren't really sure. So we're putting our eggs in a bunch of baskets, right? Because we're like, oh, I don't want to put my eggs in one basket. And not to say that you need to put them all in one basket, but we want to narrow the number of baskets down, and we want more eggs in fewer baskets because that is really how we're going to see bigger results. Now let's talk a little bit about marketing and sales. So here are some questions to ask yourself and some lists that you can make that are going to help you make some determinations. So the first question or thing to look at is where did your last five to ten clients come from? And, what that's going to tell you? It's going to give you an indication of what's working. Now, a lot of times, the reason we say five to ten is because, first of all, it depends on your business. If you service a whole lot of clients every year, like maybe 50 or 100, then this might be a small percentage. But if you are only serving, let's say, 20 clients per year, then this is a greater percentage. So that's why we give you a range of five to ten. The idea is it's really about where did they come from in the last three to six months of the year? And the reason is because you were implementing and doing things the first part of the year. And a lot of times, we don't see the result of our activities until 90 to 180 days later. And so that's really why we want you to kind of look at where did they come from recently. The other thing to ask yourself and to look at is what program or service did those clients purchase? Now, if you have only one, well, then that's a simple answer. But if you have multiple programs, multiple services, you really want to kind of look at where did those clients come from, and what did they purchase? And so that way, what we're trying to do is to see trends. We want to see what is the most popular and where is our greatest revenue coming from? That's going to inform us on what we should do more of or what we should promote more of. Another question is how did you enroll them and how did they purchase? So really, looking at not only the system for enrolling and purchasing, but this is more of what was their journey like? What can you determine? Where did they come from? How did they find you? Was it a referral? Was it someone who heard you on a podcast? Was it someone who has been following you on social media? We really want to know; what's that journey been like for them? And were you having lots of discussions for a long period of time? Was it a short period of time, and did they just sign up on a landing page? Did you have a conversation with them? Those are the things that you really want to look at if you have multiple ways of enrolling and for people purchasing, and this is going to inform you what's the fastest and easiest route for them to take in order to work with you. And then, of course, we want to assess are they a good fit? Were they a good fit? What makes them a good fit? So this is helping to really refine what our ideal client avatar looks like, where they came from, and what their journey is like. So again, we can find out what works, and we can increase our efforts and focus there and maybe let go of some other avenues that aren't working as well.

[21:55] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: And so one thing that sticks out to me with what we're sharing today is we're asking you very specific questions. We're asking you or giving you very specific questions to ask yourself. But what does all of this tell you? You have to kind of map it out. And this is why it's a review. And this is why we are suggesting that you start tracking this stuff going forward. Because when you can look back and say, like, for instance, Deirdre and I host our Marketing Methodology Workshop every eight weeks, and that's our main conversion event. So we know that most of our clients come through that and some clients come through other avenues. So it's kind of like you're creating your flowchart of where are all these people coming from? Do you have a conversion event like a workshop like we do? Do you receive your clients through referrals? And how is all that going? Like, we noticed that sometimes if someone comes in through a referral, they don't know us as well as the people who went through our workshop because we spent five days with those people. And so that's the kind of stuff you're looking at. How easy is it to convert a lead to a client using the strategy and methods that you have set up currently? Is there something you could do that would make it easier? So we want to create that flowchart. We always hear about the funnel, right? We hear about all kinds of funnels. There are automated funnels. But putting those aside, everyone's client comes to them in a certain way, and everyone's business has a funnel, meaning that there's a top of the funnel where people just hear about you, right? That's the biggest, widest part of the funnel. So they're coming in because they heard about you. They saw a post that you did, they heard you on a podcast, whatever those things are that you do in your marketing activities that are designed to bring these people into your funnel, into your world. So when we're looking at the review of the year, we want to look at all of that. Did I get in front of enough people? Did I get in front of enough other people's audiences? Because another thing that happens is if we don't have the visibility, we're putting out all this content and marketing and communication with the same people over and over again, and it just gets stale for them because they've seen it over and over again. Now, a lot of times, entrepreneurs worry that if I'm posting all this, everyone's going to get tired of hearing the same thing. And that's not really the case because people don't look at every single thing that you do. However, it could be true if you have a container such as a Facebook group or any other kind of group, and that's the only place that those people are getting the information from you because then they can get burnt out. So you always want to be bringing new people in and asking your questions, where did your last five to ten clients come from? And looking at the whole entire journey over the last year is going to help you identify what's working and what's not. And then where can you improve? And then now we want to look at 2023 or the next year, if you're listening to this, after the new year, we want to look at what we're going to start doing, what we're going to stop doing, and what we want to do more of. And we've kind of touched on this throughout this entire episode so far, but it really is going to take... I encourage you to either get a mind-mapping software or a flow chart software or a piece of paper and pen, whatever works for you, that you can list out how people are coming into your world and what is their journey when they do that when they opt into your lead magnet, then what happens. When they hear you on a podcast, then what happens? When someone's referred to you, then what happens?  And kind of map out the steps all the way to when they become a client. And when you do that, that creates metrics for you to track, right? So if you can lay this out, then you're going to know as the year goes forward and people start coming in, you can start paying closer attention because a lot of us have this set up already unintentionally, and we just haven't taken the time to intentionally look at it, to see what's working and what's not. But once you do that, you can say, okay, by looking at all of this now I've mapped out where people are coming, I need to start doing this. I can see that there's a gap here that I'm not doing, so I'm going to start doing this. And I can also see I've been putting way too much time in this other area, whatever it is, blog post writing or social media or whatever, because my clients aren't even on Facebook or whatever the reason is you have to have a good reason for it, but you need to look at it first and say, most of my clients come from this area, so that means I don't need to focus so much on this other area. You might not want to stop completely because maybe you still do get some clients from abroad a wide variety of places, but you're looking at everything, mapping it out, and going, it's reverse engineering from someone became a client. Well, how did they get there? And let's reverse engineer it back up to the top of the funnel, and then you can lay out and map out what does work, what do you need to do more, what do you need to stop, and then what do you need to start that you haven't done? And a lot of times, as entrepreneurs, we're very ambitious, and we want to start a whole bunch of things. So I will caution you on this - that we don't want to start more than one thing at a time. And the reason is because we want to start something and let it run long enough so that we can collect data and track. So it all comes back to that. If you want to start a new program, or you want to start a group, or you want to do whatever it is, [insert thing here.] We want to do it with a strategy. First of all, the question to ask yourself is why? And then second of all, we need to plan it out and decide, okay, I'm going to do it this way because this is going to help me get my results, and I'm only going to focus on this new thing for the first six months of the year. Honestly, things need to be run for at least six months, I believe, for you to be able to collect enough data, maybe 90 days, but that would be for a shorter thing like maybe you're changing up your social media if you're talking about starting a new conversion event or a new program or something like that, those kinds of things. The bigger it is, the longer the time period. You need to be able to validate that it's working before you try to start something new.

[28:59] Deirdre Harter: And what our hope and plan for this episode is to help you as you start looking at the new year and you begin goal-setting, and you begin creating your vision for the year, like, what do you want your year to look like? What do you want to accomplish? A lot of times, that can be very overwhelming to figure that out. But if you have your three lists based on all this information we just gave you, and if you go through and ask yourself these questions and do some of this mapping of what is the journey, what does the funnel look like? You're going to begin to see the picture and then that - and if you have your shortlist of, I will start doing this, I will stop doing this, and I will do more of this. If you have those three things, that makes the vision and the goal setting for the year so much easier, and it will be very clear to you, and it kind of puts up some guardrails for you so that you're not just reactively implementing, you are proactively implementing. You've determined ahead of time. This is where I have a gap, or this is where I need something to fill this. And so then you are intentionally putting that in there. And don't forget, a lot of times, there's the personal development piece of this, too, right? Like your mindset and your knowledge. Sometimes the issue is you just don't know what you don't know. And one of the things Carmen and I really love to help our clients with and our Facebook community is learning the business of business. Because unless business is your business, then you really don't know the business of business. And so we invite you to join our Facebook group, the Empire of Unstoppable Women Building Profitable Businesses. We, Carmen and I, are committed to helping every single one of our members to learn the business of business. So we have all kinds of free trainings and resources. We go live on a weekly basis. We host our Marketing Methodology Workshop as well as some other events. So we invite you to join us. And you can do that by going to https://encoreempire.com/community, and we can't wait to meet you there.

[31:18] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: We'll see you on the inside.

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