You know you have a great product. You are working hard on getting it out there. Marketing. Networking. Writing great content. Your social media following is growing. You're doing it all. A one man band. But we are often so busy in the do, that we don't take the time out to check in to see if what we are doing is working!
This isn't just a symptom of start-ups. I have worked in many businesses and with many leaders that felt that taking time out for review was a waste of time. But review is one of the most powerful things you can do to ensure that you are where you need to be. Reviewing your business could be the difference between success and failure.
Assess (something) formally with the intention of instituting change if necessary.
What the heck is review? Review is the art of assessing. Knowing if you are on track to achieve your goals. Are you going to make profit this month? What are my customers saying?
These are the questions I ask myself when I take time to review where I am and any changes I need to make:
- What successes have I had this week, this month, this year?
- What's working?
- What's not?
- What are my customers saying? Do I need to make changes?
- Am I on track financially? (If not - is that ok? Or do I need to make some changes to remedy this?)
- Am on track for me. Is the business heading in the direction I want it to?
- Is there anything in the next period that might take me off track from achieving what I want?
- Am I still doing what I love?
- Am I using my time wisely? What do I need to do more of/less of?
- Is there anything that is blocking me?
- What do I need to do to push my business to the next level? (this question I ponder less regularly as it something I consider at the end of my strategy period).
By taking time out to review, you know whether you are on track? Are your customers happy? Am I meeting my goals? Making enough money? Am I still doing what I love?
Entrepreneurs have it all in their head, so they know where they are, what they are doing. You're thinking about your business 24/7. But the reason you review is not just to know where you are, but to understand how you get from here to there. Review is a not just about asking the right questions and sitting and thinking. The most important part and the one you can't do in your head is: tweak your goals, or write new ones (where needed).
Note: It's important not to be constantly writing new goals, unless necessary. Otherwise you will spend the whole time you are in business writing goals. Who wants that! Urrrghhhh.
How often do you review? That depends on you. Early on - you might want to review as often as every two weeks. Especially if you are new to business and marketing. You want to review what your customers are saying. Is your marketing strategy working. But I would advise at the end of every week you do a mini check in. Ask yourself - what successes have I had this week? What was good about this week. Starting a new business (especially as a solo entrepreneur/business owner) can be lonely. Unless you have a mentor or coach, there is no one to be your cheerleader. To remind you why you are doing what you are doing? If you are having a mini check in every week of what's good, that will be important in the difficult moments. You know those moments, when you think - should I just give in! No Don't!
A new start-up might review and edit more often than an established start-up. Most likely you launched your product, you tested it and it's not exactly perfect or you need to change your marketing strategy. That's natural. That's great. It means that you are listening to what your customer wants and making changes according. Remember it's important to be flexible at this point.
Keep reviewing. Keep editing. Changing. Listen to what your customers have to say (this can be difficult) and move forward.
Interested in joining other start-ups to be supported in aspects of creating your vision, strategy and having someone hold you accountable to achieving you goals. Let me know. I run 1-2-1 and coaching programs for start-ups. I'd to hear you comments.
And if you want a copy of the review page I use in my diary. Head over to downloads.