There are as many ways to evaluate as there are fish in the sea, but here are some basic topics that I use to measure my success keep me open to future opportunities.
1. SimplificationI know you have heard of the KISS Principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid! This works really well for me. I don’t like wasting time (mine or my customer’s) and thus this particular mantra, if you like, has become a very important measuring criterion.
Everything in my business has to be easy: to create, to implement, and to follow moving forward. If things start to feel overly complicated, then I know I’m in trouble and look for ways to simplify my task.
Simplifying allows me to see what I need to cut out, what I need to continue and strengthen, and where the gaps are. Sometimes all I need to do to see an opportunity for simplicity is to strip things down to basic goals and the processes I use to reach them. Taking the time to simplify now, will ensure that I am open to opportunities in the New Year.
2. ConnectionWhen I was young they called it the “food chain.” The bigger fish eat the smaller fish…but now educators call it the “food web.” It’s not a linear progression from one fish to another, it’s about the connections between the fish, the plants, bacteria, the water, and so much more.
Businesses are like that! Connections are key to creating opportunities.
Of course, you have heard this before. But keep reminding yourself that the right connections not only can increase your client base and income but also create new opportunities for further development in both business and personal life.
You never know where any, one single fish (or connection) in your web might lead you! The broader the web you create, the higher the chances of connectivity leading to amazing opportunities.
3. EducationEveryone knows that education is vital for children. The problem is that many of us feel that once we finish school our schooling should end as well.
This is a mistake. Education should be an ongoing part of your business, and your life! Attend live and virtual events, talk about what you do with complete strangers on the bus, in a cafe, or at your kids’ school. Insight or enlightenment can come from the most unlikely of places.
Read print and online publications, when you can, to see where the world of small business is heading and maybe discover a new direction you could take in your business.
Learning about your business, your topic, your field should not be seen as an “extra” but as an essential part of your business. You will never know everything there is to know about your field, but the more you know the more opportunities you will see.
4. Critical ThinkingCritical thinking, as we know, is a skill that every manager is supposed to have. But it’s sometimes hard to think critically about your own small business.
As you look for ways to improve your critical thinking in this year don’t forget to allow for “non-business” business thinking. I find that spending time with kids playing with legos, playing chess, or doing puzzles not only rests my brain but stimulates it at the same time. Saving Baby Born from hunger and fighting back dinosaur attacks enables me to free think and I often identify quite spectacular possible future scenarios for my business.
Critical thinking is essential, but there is no rule that it has to be done at your desk. Try to ensure that you allow time for thinking in a variety of situations. Creative critical thinking can solve challenges and help you visualize future opportunities.
5. AnalysisA SWOT analysis is a method of evaluation that maps out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in a situation. Consider doing this at least once a year (or more often if you like) for your business to help you see any opportunities you may have missed in the grind of day to day management.
I love to review my SWOT analysis over time to see how the opportunities I identified in the past panned out. It gives me such a feeling of accomplishment to see how strengths that I identified have been nurtured and have grown over time.
I try to do a SWOT analysis three or four times a year as my small business blooms because as a solopreneur it’s up to me to work with my wonderful self and to identify, foster and grow my own awesome opportunities.