I don’t know about you, but I am actually looking forward to spending some time evaluating 2018 and planning for 2019.

Like many of you, I have some (a lot) of bookkeeping to catch up on as well. I enjoy looking back at the clients I served over the year, and reevaluating software and training I will want to invest in for the New Year.

Also, I find that I don’t remember many of the accomplishments of a year until I write my year-end post for my business.

If you had a crappy year, please don’t beat yourself up. You learn a lot more from things that don’t work than you do from things that went well.

Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try to do more of what went well, assuming it is repeatable. Sometimes, you just get lucky and are in the right place at the right time.

I like Michael Port’s framework of what worked and what could be improved, instead of my natural inclination to call things that didn’t work irredeemable train wrecks…

Identifying what worked

Clearly, identifying what was financially successful is a good place to start.

However, some strategies, services, or products may have had good results as well. Write those down.

Did your marketing funnel generate leads? Great.

Did some video content generate comments and likes? Yay. What was it about and why do you think it worked?

Did you get into a steady cadence sending out your newsletter? Good for you. (I am still struggling with this one.)

Identifying what could be improved

If your marketing funnel generated leads but you need to work on your sales messaging, pricing, or business model – so be it.

Break all the pieces apart and see what could be improved. Be honest but kind in your evaluation.


  • Can you make sales conversations easier by creating content that answers a prospect’s question at each stage of the sales cycle?
  • Do you need a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on your website?
  • Do you need an entry-level product or service? A less-expensive option for people like group coaching or an online course?
  • Or maybe a high-end product or service for clients who have already worked with you?

Getting your product / service mix right is tricky. You may have to adjust it every year.

Acknowledging any disconnects

You may find that some of the things you did seemed great when you launched them but didn’t work. Were there any pieces that did work? Can they be repurposed or leveraged another way?

Or, maybe you did something you thought was fantastic and for whatever reason it just didn’t work. Was it bad timing? Was there no market need? Were you too early to market?

Try to develop an understanding of what happened – and then celebrate it anyway. If you did something you felt good about, celebrate that you put it out in the world. How people reacted is out of your control.

Planning for next year

So, now you have your list of things that worked. Do you want to do more of that? Are people still asking for it and buying it? If yes, this is a good place to start.

Do you see a need in the marketplace that you can address? Maybe you want to add that in as well.

Can you rework or relaunch some products or services that weren’t successful? You’ve already created them, maybe you can try repackaging them or tweaking the marketing messaging or sales strategy and they will be successful?

Planning is helpful, even if you know that plans may change. Having a plan shows you where you need to market, what you need to budget, and how you need to spend your time selling and supporting your product or service.

Plans don’t have to take a lot of time. Some people like to make a one-page, high-level plan.

Other people love diving into the details and having content calendars, spreadsheets, and documented processes.

Only you can determine what’s right for you and your business. But a little time spent planning now might save you some big headaches next year.