How to Evaluate Your Previous Year
Even though the end of the year can be hectic, it’s important to set aside some time for review the last 12 months. A formal review will have the biggest impact on your event planning business and professional development.
In 1905, philosopher and essayist George Santayana wrote in The Life of Reason, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Since then, the quote has been paraphrased a million times over. Essentially it calls on us to be students of history so that we can avoid falling into the same traps that others did before us. Today, we take a much more current approach to it, talking not so much of learning the lessons of the distant past but of our own shortcomings. Business people in every industry laud the importance of failure and what can be learned from it.
Examining your year in review is a good way to assess what worked and what didn’t. What you need to do more of and what you could start moving away from. It’s a good time to look at professional relationships and re-examine their effectiveness. It’s also an ideal time to examine the market you serve and make sure the two of you are still aligned. This knowledge can also lead to ideas about how you can branch out and grow.
Why You Need an End-of-Year Review
In addition to avoiding the same failure twice, an end-of-year review helps you see places where you may be leaving money on the table or areas for growth and professional development. A review is essential to keep your business from stagnating.
But what’s the most effective way of reviewing your year? Should the review be conducted the same way an event debrief is? Here are a few tips to keep you on target and get the most from your review.
Tips for Year-End Business Reviews
Ideally, you have business goals from the end of 2015 that you put together for 2016. Take a moment to revisit them and check off anything that was completed. If you didn’t complete one of your goals, why not? Did you lack funding or resources? Did you have too many other things to accomplish? Or is your goal no longer important to your business because you moved in a different direction?
Take a quick look at the events you planned over the past year. The easiest way to do this is to review your event debriefs. What you’re looking for is patterns—good or bad. For instance, do you have similar issues with clients over and over? If so, perhaps you need to work with a different type of client or adjust expectations.
Next, celebrate what went well. Enjoy the challenges you overcame and the goals you met. Are you finished with these areas or are they something you want to do more of in your business?
Review Your Business
Yes, events are your business but your events could be going well while business may be lagging. You need to look at both separately. For your business, go through the following questions:
- How was revenue compared to the previous year?
- Were there any new hires? How did those work out?
- Did you take on any professional partnerships? How were those? Will you do more or less in the future based on this experience?
- How did expenses measure up to last year?
- Did you do any professional development?
- How successful was your marketing (don’t forget to think about social media)?
- Do you plan on doing anything differently from a marketing perspective in 2017?
- If you offer a variety of services, which service is doing the best? The same can be asked of markets or industries if you serve several.
If this review has you down, remember this is behind you and you’re off to a good start examining what works and what doesn’t. If last year was spectacular and reviewing it has you excited about the new year, all the better.
You analyzed what went well and what didn’t. You looked for patterns. Now, it’s time for the four Rs.
Referrals. Look at the feedback you received. If you kept an “atta boy/girl” folder of client testimonials or social media mentions, your work is easy. If not, start one today. What do your stakeholders repeatedly compliment you on? What do your “fans” have in common? What part of your business is referrals? Brainstorm ways you can increase your referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.
Rates. End of year is also an ideal time to review your rates. A product on the shelf doesn’t remain the same price year after year. Your service rates should increase as well. If you continue to develop yourself and refine your offerings, increasing your value, then a price increase is a smart move.
Road Map. Now you’ll want to collect everything you learned and use it to shape next year’s goals. Is there anything that didn’t get done last year that you feel is worth carrying over? Set SMART goals and plot a road map of how you’ll get there.
Reputation. Finally, give some thought to your personal brand. As an event planner, that’s everything. Do your clients think of you in the same way that you want to be known? If so, great. If not, what would you like to add in the future? For instance, maybe clients know you’re an excellent planner but don’t know that you teach event planning exceptionally well. Growing that part of your business may be one of your goals this year. Brainstorm on how you will get there.
Maybe your current reputation and personal brand are fine but you want to transition into something additional. How will you do this and what do you need to do to make that come true?
The end of the year is an ideal time to see where you’ve come from and analyze where you want to go. You owe it to your professional development and to your business to take this time to look for ways to improve your offerings and increase the industries you serve. An end-of-year review is a good way to make sure your event business is exactly where you want it to be on your map of success and if you’re not, a course correction early on is much better than several years from now.
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