Time To Improve Your Business With A Half Year Review

So the sixth month has passed and we are just over half way through the year. Although a review of progress can be done at any time it seems appropriate to do one now. So here is a process I went through over the past couple of days. I hope you find it useful.

Step 1 Progress To Date

You should have a set of goals that were due to be achieved by this time of the year. The first step is simply to review how well you have met those goals. What steps were completed, were they completed on time, and how much of each goal was achieved?

You should end up with an honest review of your progress in the first six months of the year. Include how far adrift you are from meeting goals that have not been achieved yet. How many weeks behind, how much content is still to be produced, etc.

Step 2 Two important Questions

That snapshot of reality may lift your spirits or it may inspire disappointment. Whatever your reaction, put those details aside for now and ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. What are the biggest opportunities to grow your business in the next 12 months? There may have been developments since you last considered your action plan. You may now be able to access new resources that open up new possibilities. These changes may mean you could abandon some goals, be more ambitious with others, or consider a change of direction.
  2. What content does your audience need to see to know, like and trust you? This is particularly important if you are solely based online and use social media. Yet your answer can also involve producing blog posts and/or products to help establish your expertise and trustworthiness. Don’t answer in general terms. If you aim to publish more blog posts what topics would work best to increase your audience’s awareness of you, or convince them that you are trustworthy?

Step 3 Your Guiding Sentence

Next try to summarise your main goal for the next 12 months in a sentence. If you need help with this try completing the following:

In the next 12 months I will focus on …

State your main focus and add what benefits you will gain from completing the goal. If you have lost focus in the past six months and your course has drifted away from your goals, reading this sentence should remind you of where you should be heading.

Step 4 Project Ideas

Next list all the projects you currently have underway. Then add any projects you could start in the next six months. Don’t judge how practical or successful they are, just list them. Then compare them with your guiding sentence. Remove from the list any that will not help you achieve your main goal for the next 12 months.

Step 5 Identify Your Roadblocks

Now it’s time to return to your review of the past six months. If you have not met goals consider your journey towards each one. What have been the top problems in reaching the goals? What have been the main roadblocks?

Write down a numbered list of as many roadblocks as you can. The more thorough and honest you are the more helpful the next step will be.

Step 6 List The Solutions

Now you need to brainstorm solutions for the roadblocks and list them. Use a numbered list so that the appropriate solution has the same number as the roadblock it solves.

This step may need some research. Some solutions may mean committing yourself to learning a new technique or putting in more effort to your business. If you are reluctant to invest the time and effort maybe you’ve identified another roadblock.

Step 7 Identify The Best Projects

Once you have completed step 6 it’s time to look through your list of project ideas and identify which ones solve the most roadblocks. The best solutions should be the projects you focus on for the next 12 months.

You may find that you are already working on some of the best solutions while other projects will need to be started and replace ones that are currently in progress.

You may find this process indicates you should drop projects that you are heavily invested in. If you are reluctant to abandon any projects take the time to think through why it would be better to continue with it, even though it has not been identified as one of the best roadblock solvers. If you can’t convince yourself then the project has to go for now, no matter how much you’d prefer to keep it.

Step 8 Plan The Next 12 Months

Having worked through the above steps you should have a short list of projects you will implement in the next 12 months. It’s likely this list won’t exactly match what you are currently doing. Set aside four weeks to make adjustments. In this time aim to close down or complete the projects you are not going to continue with and start planning when and how to implement you first new project.

Your 12 month plan does not have to be detailed right now. Just enough to know when you will start each project during the coming year with time built in to prepare for its implementation. Once you have this outlined the last task is to build in reviews so that you can repeat the above steps at least once every six months.

One month gone – are you still on track?

January crossed off calendarSo how did January work out? Hit all your targets? Have you completed 1/12th of your plan for this year?

It’s about this time of year that New Year Resolutions are abandoned, business plans falter, and reality starts to peel away from the bright, upward course you had planned. So if you haven’t yet sat down to review and, if necessary, regroup, now’s the time.

If you’ve wandered from the path you planned for yourself the obvious areas of blame are lack of willpower or discipline. However, there is another possibility that does not immediately occur to most people.

Often the problem lies with the nature of our goals. Big, ambitious goals that can only be achieved through daily applications of superhuman willpower and incredible levels of commitment and focus.

Attempt to pursue these type of goals and you are doomed from the start. If your achievements are reliant upon you being more focused, organised, enthusiastic, and energetic than ever before you’re simply setting yourself up for failure.

If this is the case, you need to break down your goals into smaller, simpler ones. A sequence of achievable steps to reach your desired destination rather than one giant leap.

You need to commit to small, but important action steps. This could be something like writing 500 words a day, creating a new video per week, or regularly interacting with your fans on Facebook.

Each step needs to be simple and not too challenging. Yet if you can achieve them on a regular basis they will compound into significant progress toward your larger goals.

In one month, just keeping to the above goals every weekday, you will have written 10,000 words, made four videos, and started to build relationships with potential partners and customers. In three months you’d have written enough for an ebook, be in a position to regularly release one video a month for the rest of the year, and build trust with people who can significantly help your business. Just by consistently keeping to three simple actions on a daily basis.

At the end of this month we’ll be 1/6th of way through the year. Think about how quickly January has gone by. The rest of the year is just that, eleven more times.

If you’ve set up goals that were doomed to failure and your achievements already lag behind what you had planned, give this approach a go. Take another look at your goals and break them down into simpler ones. Then commit yourself to achieving these on a daily basis. No one can complete a worthwhile journey in one leap, but small steps taken consistently can produce significant results.

Now You’ve Started Will You Finish?

Start13If you spent the last days of 2012 planning you should have already decided what you intend to focus on this year. You’ll know where you’ll be putting most of your energy, the destination you’re aiming for and a good idea of the route you’ll take to get there.

It’s as if the vehicle that’s taking you through 2013 is sitting on the driveway, checked, packed and ready to go.

Now it’s time to start the engine, and at this time of year I’ll bet most people are focused on starting. Leaving behind what they didn’t like about previous years and motoring off towards the things they would rather be, have or experience.

Yet it would seem starting is not the most challenging part of a project. For example, many make a start on their new year resolutions, but it seems the majority have abandoned them before the end of the month.

So although now is the time to start perhaps we should be looking at how we can make the starting count. How are we going to maintain momentum once the initial enthusiasm starts to wane?

Here’s a few steps I’ve taken.

I had targets for each of the last six months of 2012. They were in a nice neat table within a Word document. Trouble is after a while I stopped opening the document on a regular basis. Consequently I didn’t always have my main targets at the front of my mind and failed to achieve some of my goals. Sometimes we’re so used to working at a keyboard that we overlook the benefits of hard copy.

So this year I have my goals and targets on display, not hidden on a page in a diary or in a computer file I’ll eventually forget to open every day. They’re printed on a sheet of paper and placed where I’ll see them every time I sit down to work. They’ll be there to motivate me to work or continue to work or both.

Another step I have taken is to get an accountability partner. Starting next week we should be speaking on Skype for at least a half hour and repeating this weekly. The power of accountability is underrated but if you can use it to keep you on target it can help you maintain momentum towards your goals.

Another step is to declare your goals publicly. You could do this on a blog, Facebook, Twitter, in a forum, or even email some people you know. This may take a bit of courage, but there’s nothing like putting your pride and self-image at risk to motivate you!

My two main goals this year are to launch a front end product (finally!) and to start a membership site.

So keep your targets and goals where you’ll see them every day, announce them on your blog, on Facebook, and so on, and get yourself an accountability partner.

It’s all very well posting rousing “let’s make this a great year” statements on Facebook or a blog, but taking steps to keep going as the initial new year euphoria fades will make a greater difference to the results you get.

Have you taken steps to maintain momentum? Is there something that has worked for you in the past?

If you want to take a first step towards accountability add a comment declaring the one thing you are committed to achieving this year.

Let’s get started, plan to keep going and here’s to a prosperous and fulfilling 2013.

David