How to Evaluate the Past Year and Plan Ahead

3rd January 2018

Business Planning

Now is a good time to take stock and review your objectives for the past year, to work out what went well and where changes are required. It’s the ideal time to set new goals for the year ahead and work out your priorities.

When setting goals we’re big fans of SMART objectives and ensuring they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. Working out how to measure the effectiveness of your goals as you set them will keep you focused and make the evaluation process much simpler. This is the place to begin.

Go through your current objectives one by one and determine what has worked, what didn’t work and where revisions are required. Review your data and statistics carefully. Are there areas that didn’t go according to plan? If so, why? Try and figure out specifically what didn’t work. Could this be revised slightly? What does this tell you about the process? What did go well and did it meet or exceed expectations? Could this formula be applied to other areas of your business?

Ask Your Customers for Help

Enlist your customers to help you by asking them to complete a survey. Customers are a rich source of information and by asking the right questions you will gain valuable insights. As well as helping you determine areas of strength and weakness, they can unearth lucrative opportunities and help with growth.

Armed with your evaluation and customer insights, it will be easier to prepare your goals for the coming year. If you don’t know where to begin, start by brainstorming. Using diagrams or mind maps think about where you want to be this time next year, and then in five years and so forth. Don’t worry about specifics at this stage. Just get some rough ideas down on paper, you can hone them later.


The next step is to begin making lists and sorting your ideas. Being clear on your priorities is extremely important. When all else fails, referring back to priorities will ensure you remain focused on what is important to you/your business.

Remember the SMART acronym and ensure your targets are achievable. At the same time, be aware that a criticism of SMART is that it doesn’t encourage growth. It’s easy to use the SMART method but not push yourself. Find a balance between what is realistic and moving your business forward and pushing the boundaries.

Think about this time next year and sitting down to repeat the process. Where do you want to be in a year’s time? What will be a significant achievement? What will have the most impact on your business and customers? Keep this in mind when planning.

Further Reading

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