Grab a piece of paper and get ready to write. First, answer the following questions, without judgment or editing:
- What part of running this business/doing the work was frustrating last year?
- What parts of the process took the most extra effort to handle?
- Where did the people around me or I get stuck?
- What caused last year’s customer complaints?
- What couldn’t we help customers achieve?
- Where are we under pressure?
- Where are our actions not aligning with our purpose?
Write down any additional pain points you can remember. Then, drill deeper by writing headings for the primary divisions in your shop. For example:
You can extend this into specific projects or market streams like e-commerce, contract work, or B2B sales. Write down any categories concerning you. Don’t limit yourself at this stage. Under each, answer the following questions:
- Are initiatives in this area as far along as is expected?
- Where did we put the most effort in working on this?
- What was the most common complaint from staff working in this segment?
If any question, comment, or pain point surfaces throughout this process, mainly if it’s persistent, write it down. We’re aiming to capture as much of the spirit of the last year as we can. We want to find any place that we feel needs attention or improvement, or anything that might be holding us back or causing us to misspend our time, effort, and resources.
Now, look within
With last year’s struggles spelled out before you, take a less distressing kind of stock. You’ve likely identified worrying issues with your process, people, and equipment, but now we’ll fix our gaze on the range of resources at our fingertips. Again, we’ll use our judgment-free writing technique to enumerate our strengths and resources. Start a new page and answer the following questions:
- What work do we breeze through, no matter the seeming difficulty?
- What parts of our process are running with extreme efficiency and ease?
- Where do we get ahead of what we need to get done?
- What problems do we solve/markets do we serve better than anyone?
- What potential markets are rising that fit the way we work and how we’re equipped?
- What makes customers love us?
These organizational powers are the foundation for solving problems and making new plans. Just as we drilled down on our specific business segments and internal structures in the last step, you should list similar areas and build your picture of what resources they have to contribute to your shop’s development. For each segment, answer these questions:
- On which initiatives are we making real progress?
- What parts of this segment’s process are running smoothly?
- What successes are we regularly seeing in this area?
Once again, write down anything you see as a resource or a strength, even if it sounds silly or unimportant at first. During this part of the process, we want to get a handle on what we do well and what we can rely on in our company, taking special note of untapped or incompletely utilized resources. We’re looking for the people that get things done and who seem to have the will and means to grow. We’re looking for equipment that never fails us and might be able to move more product or serve another purpose if we have staff in place. We’re looking for knowledge in one market that we might apply to another, or markets into which we could further commit and grow our share.
Now, what do you do with all this compiled information? Find out here.