When the Year ends: How to look back and plan ahead? 

WRITTEN BY YAHEL DEMETER

A small business that grows by one year is always a cause for celebration. Here I will give you three great tools to make sure next year is excellent, even if the last one was good.

I have a friend who, every New Year’s Eve, convenes a party that he calls "the end of the tax year" to celebrate the past year. These parties are attended by a mix of hired employees and independents, and what’s amazing is that everyone there talks about realizing their ideas and starting a business. Just before the new year, I’d like to say that any small business that celebrates an anniversary is a cause for celebration, whether the past year was good or not. And I have three ideas for you that will help you make the next year better, even if the past year was excellent.

SWOT MODEL: THE MODEL THAT MOST PEOPLE KNOW BUT DON’T ADOPT
The SWOT model is one of the best models out there, and it remains up-to-date mostly due to its simplicity and because it provides a very good image of the business situation, which really allows you to grow. The ״S״ stands for Strengths, the ״W״ is for Weaknesses, the ״O״ is for Opportunities, and the ״T״ is for Threats. The idea here is simple: the first two categories represent your business, or one of your products and services, and the next two represent the environment. It may seem simple, but you really need to pay close attention to where each subject is slated. For example, a good chef at a restaurant can be one of its strengths, but easily one of its weaknesses too, because if he leaves, he might take the magic along with him. A security situation can be a threat, but on the other hand it can also give small businesses an opportunity to grow by offering new products and services that address the situation. The conclusion is that everything changes all the time, and this model provides you with a very good image of the changes at hand. I, for example, apply it myself once a quarter.

UNDERSTAND WHO YOUR GOOD CUSTOMERS ARE AND WHAT ELSE YOU CAN OFFER THEM
At the end of each year, I recommend that you look at your income statement and see which customers are most important in terms of income or in terms of satisfaction and interest. Then ask yourself three questions: Why were they so significant last year? Did the revenue match the scope of work? And most important: What else can you offer these customers so that they can continue to grow and get full consumer satisfaction from your products and services. You can always find more things to offer so that you continue to develop with them and benefit mutually from this shared development.

WHAT ARE YOUR BEST PRODUCTS OR SERVICES AND WHO ELSE THEY CAN BE OFFERED TO
Once you've figured out who your best customers are, think about your best products and services and ask yourself if you can market them to additional audiences. To figure out how additional audiences can benefit from them, segment your market by demographics, as well as other social, psychological, and consumer aspects. Create a representative character for each market segment, and try to apply your product or service to the same profile. You need to imagine an actual character in order to relate to its customer journey, and to understand as accurately as possible this representative character’s problem, the solution it seeks and the potential results of using your product or service. All this in the midst of its customer journey, which occurs between the moment the character first realizes it has a problem, hears about your product/service, and until it uses it and lets you examine whether it behaved as you expected during and after the use. If you want an even better evaluation, get a focus group that includes people who meet as many criteria of those characters as possible.

May the next year take you beyond your business goals, may you continue to grow with the right customers and continue to offer more people your excellent products and services. Being a small business owner is challenging, but also rewarding when done right.

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