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13 Business Leaders Share Their Best Tips For A Year-End Review

Originally posted in Forbes December 2021. With a Contribution from MindEquity

A year-end review is an important time for companies to take stock of things that worked and didn't from the previous year. It's important for leaders to evaluate the effectiveness of certain strategies, products, marketing campaigns and more, and an end-of-year review is the perfect time to do this.

While most leaders make this review a habit, different approaches fit different needs. Some companies look at KPIs achieved while others review more frequently throughout the year. To help, 13 Forbes Business Council members shared how your business can implement an effective year-end review process.

Forbes Business Council members share tips on how to implement an effective year-end review process.

1. Hold Quarterly Strategic Sessions

The end-of-year review is essential. What we do is hold strategic sessions each quarter, including at the end of the year. With our top managers, we analyze our results and set new goals for the next year. - Vladyslav Savchenko, Powercode

2. Focus On Results Achieved

An underestimated trap of the year-end review is outcome bias or the tendency to evaluate progress based on results alone. My clients often review based on the results achieved rather than how they were achieved and fit with a long-term strategy. Every year, ask three simple questions for a realistic appraisal: Was this result achieved ethically? Is this repeatable? How much luck is involved? - Nuala Walsh, MindEquity

3. Reassess Strategies From Previous Years

It’s imperative for entrepreneurs to do an end-of-year performance review. Lately, unforeseen world events are causing major disruptions in what we do. In 2020, it was Covid. In 2021, we faced supply chain issues. Supply chain issues caused revenue to be pushed into later periods, completely destroying budget cycles. Reassessing lessons learned to make adjustments for the coming year is critical. - Adam Coffey, CEO Advisory Guru, LLC

4. Analyze The Financial Summary

Analyzing the overall financial summary of a business allows a company to review its balance of cash flow, working capital and position in terms of any outstanding lines of credit or loans. This encourages the implementation of additional growth strategies as well as addresses concerns that require immediate attention. A great place to start is updating the company's original business plan. - Tiffany Gaines, SS Global Entertainment

5. Include Your Entire Team

An end of year analysis of my company is tradition. At the end of every year, I plan a meeting with my partners and employees to discuss the pros and cons of business operations during the prior year. I then agree with the whole team on a revised course of action to achieve a better outcome in the upcoming fiscal year. Ensuring your team is chasing a common goal is key! - Johnny Marines, Johnny Marines Enterprises

6. Have Reviews Throughout The Year

An end-of-the-year review can be powerful, but I've found monthly or quarterly reviews to be more effective for my business as it allows for faster pivots. I review all financials, staffing, any major decisions made, client success, wins and opportunities. For any areas we could improve on, I then immediately seek out solutions on who and what could help us in the next month or quarter. - Marcus Chan, Venli Consulting Group

7. List Out Significant Projects

From my experience, I always advocate an "after-action review" for any significant project. As a team, we look at the things we want to sustain and things that should be improved. The team input is valuable, helping with engagement and with taking ownership and responsibility. The best way to start is by listing out significant projects or clients/customers and going through each with the team. - Jason Van Camp, Mission Six Zero

8. Look At Non-Revenue-Generating Lines

Annual company audits assure we remain adaptive and lean. The simplest way to start is by dissecting non-revenue-generating lines first like liabilities. The goal is to automate and simplify or eliminate inefficient processes to reduce costs and/or time. Next, graduate to revenue-generating lines like assets. You want to promote high ROI behaviors and outcomes while minimizing low ROI ones. - Tej Brahmbhatt, Watchtower Capital

9. Address Problems Throughout The Year

While a year-end review is a best practice, it should not hold any big surprises. Just like an employee review, challenges, accomplishments and performance against identified goals should be addressed throughout the year in real-time. Regular monthly or quarterly financial reviews, operational and cultural KPIs as well as customer and team experiences should be constant topics of evaluation. - Shannon Brooks, Shannon Brooks Consulting

10. Have Continuous Feedback

Business moves at the speed of light today. If you had waited until December 2020 to evaluate last year you would have likely missed some critical pivots. We operate on a continuous feedback loop which allows for our KPIs to have constant accountability and responsiveness with an eye toward leading indicators so that we can be nimble and proactive. A year in review is a thing of the past. - Hilmon Sorey, ClozeLoop

11. Audit ROI And Expenses

With the upcoming tax season just around the corner, I start auditing my ROI, expenses and do a full-scale audit on every aspect of my business on January 1. This not only helps me prepare for filing my taxes, but also helps me see areas I need to work on to lower expenses. - Tammy Sons, Tn Nursery

12. Combine Lessons Learned With Future Goals

At StoneAge, we do something called "reflect forward." At the end of each year, we discuss our overall performance, the execution of our strategy and accomplishments and misses. Then we weave our learnings into the following year's goals, KPIs and overall plan. It's very helpful to reflect forward because it's a positive process that encourages a growth mindset and makes it safe to talk about mistakes. - Kerry Siggins, StoneAge

13. Be Transparent About Obstacles

We are transparent with our employees about how our company has progressed or struggled over the course of the year. We hold a company-wide meeting and review all the numbers so they know where we stand. Success is a team effort, so it’s important to know where you stand to be able to see clearly where you are going. - Ty Allen, SocialClimb


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