As the year comes to a close, it's a time for reflection. It's a time to look back at another year of business performance and to assess your work. It's a time to see where improvements can be made and when to celebrate your successes, too.

But sometimes, it's hard to know where to begin.

Sure, it sounds easy to think back on the year, look at the numbers, and decide if you're happy with the results. But there are specific areas of business performance you should focus on to help give you a well-rounded view of the details--so that next year, you know exactly where to make changes.

In this post, you'll find several different places you should take your business magnifying glass to really assess the past year.

1. Promotions

If you hosted any type of sales or promotions through the course of the year, you'll want to pinpoint which of those were your top and bottom performers. From there, you can decide which sales might need to be sunsetted and which ones to push harder next year. You should also evaluate:

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Use that information to plot your promotion strategy for the coming year and include ways to further publicize them with tactics such as:

2. Sales Performance

In this category, you'll want to study your sales both monthly and on an annual basis. Look at your annual business performance in comparison to the past two years, and then examine your findings. You could also do some mathematical forecasting as well. With those numbers, you can determine:

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Take your promotions and see how they can tie in to help bolster slow months. You should also consider:

3. Offerings

Examine your different products or services individually and then as a whole to identify your most and least valuable offerings. When you can pinpoint which offerings might need to be eliminated, you can put more focus into those that are bringing in the greatest ROI. You may also consider:

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Be blunt. Ask your customers directly what they want to see more of from you. They are the ones whose opinions matter, so ask them! Reach out for feedback via:

4. Market Research

If you put together a formal business plan, market research was probably one of the most insightful (and time-consuming) parts of the process. Conducting market research on an annual basis allows you to keep a close eye on your competitors and may open your eyes to areas you could expand your business in the future. It also helps to:

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See what your market is telling you about the future and get ahead of the curve. Depending on your business, that might mean:

5. Profits/Losses

Of course, you should keep a close eye on the hard numbers outlined in your Profit and Loss statements. This is where you can really get down into the nitty-gritty and see the facts the numbers portray about your business performance. While reviewing these, think about:

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Take a moment to really weigh where you're at with your business. If you feel like you're still just treading water, this is the area to study and find out how you can move ahead. That might mean:

6. Clients

Finally, it's key to take a closer look at your customers. You can probably file them into specific categories or 'personas', which will help you figure out who your most ideal client is. When you outline your dream client, then pair it up with who you're actually working with and see:

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Think about how you can better tailor your marketing to reach those dream clients. Think about:

Planning for Better Business Performance in the Future

Once you've answered these tough questions and have studied all of these different areas of your business performance, you can make a well-strategized plan moving forward. You've got all the information you need--now it's just time to put it to work!

What else do you look at when studying your annual business performance?

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