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End of year review for your small business

Why do an annual review?

I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t find Christmas to be a relaxing time. Although there’s always so much to do to wrap up the year, I find that taking time in December to look back at the past 12 months I’m able to start the upcoming year with calm ambition and clarity to get moving forward in the right direction from the first day back.

In this article, I’m giving 5 stream of consciousness journal prompts. There are no wrong anwsers. Just note down what each prompt brings up. No editing and definitely no over thinking.

Failing is winning

Gary Vee, entrepreneur loud-mouth (with a heart of gold) says,

“I love getting punched in the face.”

When you try and fail, it feels like a punch in the face.

When mistakes happen or projects fail in my business, I get a horrible feeling. It’s hard to look at mistakes and failures. BUT it’s not all bad.

Gary’s point is that it’s the trying that you should feel great about. You only truly fail when you don’t even try. 

Let’s reframe this past year’s flops. Try to list these out but please be kind to yourself. Many of us have been up against some whopping and unexpected challenges.

The reframe

Good for you for putting yourself out there, taking risks, learning lessons! Look at how you’re growing!

Good for you for acknowledging this stuff and opting in for a punch in the face without judging yourself.

I’m so proud of you. I know that was hard.

If this prompt got some bad vibes going, pop over here for 60 seconds. Andy from Headspace has an exercise for you.

Your version of success

Having looked at failure in the first journal prompt we’re flipping around to list our wins. Woohoo!

The busy day to day of running your own business can mean that you don’t take time to celebrate or even notice our successes. Lots of little things probably happened over the past year. Maybe some big ones too.

The immediate thought goes to income, but let cast a broader net today.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou sums it up nicely here and I’m inclined to agree with every part of her statement. Take a sec’ to re-read her words before getting stuck into this one.

List all the wins you’ve had this year. Try to push a little further than income and subscriber count.

And if you have a little more time, who could you thank for their support? Can you do a gratitude post on social media thanking people for their support and inspiration this year? Maybe a little note by email to show your appreciation.

Gratitude is always a good idea. Don’t you think?


“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.” ― Cal Newport, author of “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”

When I started out working for myself, I thought I’d be providing my services most of the time. I quickly learned that there’s a lot more that goes into running a business. From admin to lead generation to website repairs to posting on social media, I was lucky if I was spending 30% of my time doing the work I had set out to do.

Every year, I try to reclaim time from each day so that I can focus on the parts of my work that I love. AND reclaim time for non-work activities that keep me healthy and creative.

I take a look at the mundane work that brings me zero joy and I consider what I can automate, outsource, optimise or remove!

  • What takes up more time than it should?
  • What tasks suck the life out of you?
  • Is there anything in this list that you can outsource? Get some help with? Or straight-up remove?

Look at your list. What can you do to streamline your day-to-day so that you can focus on the work you love (and brings you money)? Here are some examples from years past:

2016: I was wasting SO much time scheduling appointments and chasing invoices. I set up an online calendar and payment gateway so that all that stuff gets automated. I get alerts when a new appointment is made and payment is processed. All I need to do is consult one file (instead of 20!) to track my schedule and accounts.

2019: My project preparation was really slow to work through. I was creating brand new files for each new client. So, I created templates for onboarding and delivery that get tweaked, rather than starting from scratch.

2021: Brainstorming and creating content always got pushed down the list when I was busy. I never had enough time to generate meaningful content. So now I do a “100 days of Content” workshop every quarter. This means I always have something to share.

Reconnecting with Why

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” ― Simon Sinek author of “Find your Why”.

Have you ever done work on you “Why”? The term is so commonplace in the business world at this stage that it’s almost cliché! Your why is your purpose. The reason you do what you do.

So why do YOU do what you do?

And is the reason you started still driving you?

I reckon it’s okay for your Why to shift a little or even a lot from year to year. And with all that’s changed in the past few years, I think that now, more than ever we’re reconnecting with our purpose, our Why, and choosing work that feels right.

My Why has evolved a little in the years since I first heard Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk. In the context of this end-of-year review, do a stream of consciousness about why you do this work. There are no wrong answers, just thoughts, and emotions. Nobody is here to judge ya! Push past the obvious stuff.

What’s next?

It’s been a gruelling time for many of us (2020 -2021). I don’t know about you but the goals I set for myself this time last year fell by the way-side fairly early into 2021. I was tired. Frazzled even. I missed Ireland in a way I never thought possible, even after so many years of living away. 

When I finally got home in August it had been nearly 2 years. I cried at the sight of some lovely green hills. Literally, saw the hills and big fat tears dropped heavily from my face. Home.

I think it’s exhausting when you make plans, then they get canceled. There’s energy that goes into looking forward to things. Then when the things don’t happen, you don’t get that boost of energy back. So the levels get depleted. It’s not a fair deal is it?

Without really planning to do so, I made rest my top priority this past year. And I think I’ll keep it thank you very much. 

Looking forward to next year, I’m not setting a goal, not really. I want to offer something instead. I know that there are so many things that are out of my control. But I can control how I give to my community and how I look after myself.


Your last prompt. Look at how you might give to your community. And further to this, what opportunities would you love to open up for you?

There are no wrong answers.

How did it go? Did you make it all the way through?

Sign up here to get the 5 prompts as a printable worksheet.

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