It’s never a bad time to assess how well you and your independent business are performing. While it may feel strange grading yourself, below you will find some questions that will not only help you decide how you are doing now, but also help you frame your future goals.
Understand What Worked: A Performance Review
When you’re running your own business, there is no HR department or boss to give you an annual review, and perhaps that’s a blessing. But the concept can still be useful for you. It is important to look back over each year as your business matures and changes so you can understand what is working, what isn’t, and what you can do better. It’s also a time to praise yourself for a job well done, outline training and professional development initiatives for the next year, and think carefully about your errors.
So get out some paper and follow along to conduct a self-guided performance review, and you might also want to read some online resources for employee annual reviews and develop a review process that is tailored for your business.
1. What do you think went well this year? What are some key accomplishments?
2. Which projects were the most successful, and what made them so?
3. Which of those projects should be added to your portfolio or list of case studies?
4. Did you correctly bid the right amount, or did you sell yourself into projects that ended up costing you more time than you imagined? What did you learn about your pricing this year?
5. Which clients are working out well for you? What are some key elements of the successful working relationship?
6. Which clients are not working out well, and why? What actions should be taken?
7. Which skill areas are leading to the most satisfactory projects? Is there a particular kind of work that is the most fun and the most profitable for you?
8. Which skill areas indicate the kinds of work you would like to transition out of?
9. Is there anything you can do to increase your productivity or profitability?
10. What are some of the areas you know you could have been more effective with? What will help support better effectiveness in those areas inext year?
11. How are your communication skills?
12. What kinds of training and professional development will help you become even more successful next year?
13. How do you think your business is going to change in the future (next several years) and in what ways will you need to evolve to stay on top?
14. Are you taking on the right volume of business? Biting off too much? Too little?
15. How did you do on work/life balance? Are you doing the things in life that you want to be doing — going to the gym, traveling, spending time with family, pursuing personal interests?
16. How are you doing with the administration of your business? What is working well, and where do you need to improve things?
17. What opportunities did you create for your business? Did you miss any opportunities? What will help you recognize and develop opportunities next year?
18. What characteristics were your biggest strengths in the last year? How can you build on those strengths?
Although a performance review in a corporate context can be intimidating, for this process, you are your own boss. Be honest with yourself, and above all focus on what is working well and how you can build on your success. As a small business entrepreneur, optimism and self confidence are critical.