Time sure does fly when running your own business, doesn’t it? When the time comes for a 6 month review of our progress, it can be nerve wracking. Have we hit the targets we set for ourselves? Has the business grown in the way we’d hoped? It’s a lot to unpack.
At the start of the year, I shared a post outlining 11 marketing ideas to help you plan for the next 6 months in your business. This post is a companion to that list, with some helpful tips on analysing your progress, and deciding what comes next.
Before we start, I want you to remember – a 6 month review isn’t about beating yourself up for missed targets. It’s an opportunity to regroup, pat yourself on the back for what went well, and make necessary changes to take things in a positive direction!
The Bottom Line – Reviewing the Numbers
Okay – let’s get this out of the way first: The bottom line, however scary it might be. How are the numbers?
A 6 month review is the time to analyse your predicted sales against your actual sales. While you should also be doing this month to month, this is a chance to look at the bigger picture! How do the predicted and actual numbers compare? Again, this isn’t about punishing yourself! It’s about being proactive and practical.
If you’ve hit all of your targets, amazing! But don’t get complacent. Really analyse where each and every sale came from so you can keep smashing those goals.
If not – don’t panic! Especially in the early stages, it can take time to really get the business off the ground. But by taking the time to review things, you’re putting yourself in a stronger position. It’s time, then, to figure out what is and isn’t working, and make some changes.
Analysing your marketing strategy is a vital part of any 6 month review. Whether your figures were higher or lower than you’d hoped, it’s beneficial to break it down.
Start with your website – how are your analytics? Look for spikes in activity and check if they correlate with any particular activities. In my post about planning for the next 6 months, I covered the idea of special offers and sales during quiet periods. Did these have the desired effect?
Next, look at your social media. You don’t have to have a million followers for your social platforms to be effective – you just need the followers you do have to be engaging with you! If you’ve been using a few platforms, really take the time to look at where your customers are coming from. If one of the platforms is taking up time and energy but yielding next to no results, consider cutting it loose!
Now repeat this with the other marketing channels and tactics you’ve been using. And if you don’t have all the data, this post helps you set up your marketing analytics.
The key here is to note which marketing activities actually made a positive impact. This could be in terms of sales, or brand awareness. Did networking help you reach new clients? Or did a conference or trade show cost you far more than you made?
It sounds so obvious, but it’s easy to just keep pushing blindly ahead! This kind of detailed, big picture review might take a while, but it will ultimately save you time, money and stress in the long run!
What’s Coming Up?
Okay, now you know where you are 6 months in. So what comes next? Naturally, a 6 month review will look forward as well as back, and it’s important to make sure you’re keeping up the momentum.
Another point I made in the 6 month planning post was that whatever time of year you get started, it’s worth being prepared for the Christmas period. As weird as it feels to be creating festive ads in July, you’ll thank yourself come autumn! Have you organised everything you planned to? If not, there’s no time like the present.
Taking your sales and marketing stats into account, you can start the whole process over again, with the benefit of hindsight! Cut what didn’t work and streamline your process. If you’re ready for Christmas, start thinking about the well-known January lull. What can you do to keep things ticking over after the buzz of the festive season?
Whether it’s a seasonal event, an individual campaign or even time off for yourself, make sure you know what’s coming up and get ready for it. The beauty of a 6 month review is it allows you to get ahead of the game. No more scrabbling at the last minute to get organised!
How do you feel?
Lastly, putting aside all of the practical aspects, ask yourself this. How do you feel? Are you happy? And is the way the business is progressing, whatever the pace, making you feel fulfilled?
While the stats and sales are crucial, success isn’t just about the numbers. A 6 month review is a really nice opportunity to ask yourself if you’re still enjoying what you’re doing. I previously uploaded a post asking what success look like to you – head on over and give it a read if you’re in need of a pep talk!
Right now, with social media promoting the “hustle” culture day in day out, it can be easy to forget that one of the best things about running your own business is creating a work life that you’re passionate about. So make sure that if the business has shifted in a way that isn’t inspiring you, you make whatever changes you need to to get reinvested!
I hope this post showed that reviewing your small business progress doesn’t have to be scary! In fact, it can be incredibly rewarding to take the time to see how far you’ve come. And most importantly, it will set you up for success further down the track.
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
Small Business Marketing Ideas
Set Goals for Your Small Business in 4 Steps
Meet the Underdogs: 10 Underrated Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
What’s Your Plan for the Next 6 Months? 11 Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses