5 Steps to DIY Your Business Checkup
It's the middle of the year so that means you probably need to get your ish together... YESTERDAY!
Does this sound like you?
your systems aren't as successful as you'd like and your plans could probably use some pivoting
you've lost sight of the goals you set at the beginning of the year because you've been chasing shiny new ideas
you're ready to optimize your business for productivity & profitability, and want to put a plan in place to make this happen
you need to take an inventory of everything you've accomplished so you can plan for a bigger, better 2nd half of the year
We're told by doctors that we're supposed to get annual (sometimes even semi-annual) check-ups to make sure our bodies are in tip-top shape.
Maybe we should start treating our businesses the same way, especially as entrepreneurs...especially as creative entrepreneurs.
We may not want to dig into the nitty-gritty ugly parts of our business but doing so allows us to quantify our successes, validate our ideas, and learn from our losses.
For many, this checkup may come by hiring a business coach or business manager or some other expert to help in the areas that need attention in your business; but maybe you're not there yet, so here are 5 steps you can take on your own towards giving your business a self checkup:
Before you can do anything new, you have to look back at what you've already done.
Think about all those goals you've previously set that you were so excited to tackle...
What have you actually crossed off your list?
What have you added on to that list?
What have you completely neglected?
This isn’t an exercise in regret but instead, it’s for you to reflect on how far you’ve come, because believe it or not — you’ve come far!
Goal planning is just about adding more things to an already long list. It’s about assessing where you are and using a recipe of logic, instinct, and experience to prepare your next steps.
It’s not a wishlist of daydreams, but instead, a tangible list serving as a North Star in your business...and life.
What are you proud of?
What lessons did you learn?
What new passions did you discover?
This is a celebration of where you’ve been so it’s okay to dwell a little (not too long though).
To do your checkup, write down AND answer those questions above, writing down whatever comes to mind, thinking at least 3 months back but no more than 12 months back.
If you have a planner, notebook, or some other tool that you use when you're planning, feel free to reference that, but you're gonna want this to be a real “gut check” so that you’re seeing what subconsciously resonates with you most.
After reflecting back on everything you've done to this point, somewhere between the past 3 to 12 months, dissect that a bit more with an audit.
What worked? Why?
What didn’t work? Why not?
What plans did you have to ditch & where did you have to pivot?
Where did you find yourself struggling (maybe more than you expected) and where did you find more ease of completion?
Did you hit your monthly & quarterly goals?
Did you even set monthly & quarterly goals?
These are all the questions you need to answer but not just with instinct. These can have all been measured, so if you were tracking your progress, you should have some quantifiable results to help you.
If not, that’s okay, but that’s also something to think about — why weren’t you tracking your goals?
Doing an audit allows you to really take what may be a hard look at the past months because those results are going to be critical in what comes next.
To do your checkup, refer back to the accomplishments from your review and note the indicators you have in place that cement them as actual accomplishments; do this for the things you’d didn’t accomplish as well -- how do you know for sure that you "failed".
These notes are going to help you determine what to tweak & what to repeat.
You're now ready to put in the work, building on what we’ve uncovered from your review & audit.
You’ve noted your wins & now you know what worked, as well as what didn’t work. Armed with this information, you can now make a tough decision — keep following this path with a renewed focus OR shift gears & pivot, leaning into the trajectory of the past few months.
The things that worked can be the foundation you need to make even greater strides.
The things that didn’t work can be an indicator that it’s time for a change.
Be honest with yourself about whether or not it's time to buckle down or time to change lanes?
What did you do, for the things that worked, that you can duplicate & build on?
What was lacking, for the things that didn’t work, so you can heed those opportunities?
This is all about picking a path at the fork in the road, because often when we hit this midway mark, where we thought we’d be isn’t necessarily where we end up so we have to decide if we need to move forward or to reroute.
Honestly assess your goals & decide which ones you need to ditch (or at least pause) for later and which ones you’ll continue to pursue with purpose.
This part of your checkup is when you are going to start putting pen to paper and concoct an actual plan! You're plan will be your guiding force throughout your business so it's something that you have to approach delicately, not haphazardly or emotionally.
Armed with your big (and maybe scary) goals, it’s time to break them down into bite-sized tasks.
You're going to "reverse engineer" each goal to the most micro level of tangible steps that’ll get you there.
Why? What will this mean for your business?
Are you creating a tribe of loyal supporters & potential clients, or are you looking for a curated pool of market research participants for future endeavors?
How do you plan on finding & getting these 100 emails — do you have an opt-in, an email funnel, a provider?
Set the goal. Work backward.
That’s the objective.
Each goal should easily yield 3+ tasks that you can eventually turn into an ongoing to-do list, leading you to feel more accomplished & closer to your goal with each one you complete.
Essentially, you're drafting the roadmap that’ll get you to that big goal in a couple of months!
Work backward to determine the 3 minimum tasks you’ll have to do to get to your end goal.
3 is the minimum!
If you have less than 3 steps, there’s a fair chance your goal isn’t completely thought through. We tend to skip “the little steps” and that’s where things can start to go array. Dig deep so that you can break it down fully. Then write down these steps (preferably somewhere you can reference quickly & often) so that you can also physically note when you’ve completed them.
If your checkup has been going as planned, you will end up with a record of everything you’ve accomplished, showing you how far you’ve come & motivating you for even more greatness.
You'll have a tangible, actionable roadmap of, hopefully, some freshly refined goals — maybe brand new or maybe old but revamped — but all clearly & intentionally planned.
All that's left for you to do now is take the first step — the first step from the collective a small steps that'll get you to your end goal.
Let’s go back to that 100 subscriber goal...
Maybe you simply brainstorm an opt-in.
Or maybe you sign up for an email service provider (I recommend Mailerlite if you're on a budget).
Depending on where you are, your first step is going to vary, but that doesn’t matter. Just take the step! It'll be one thing you can cross off your list today! And then the next day, another small step, and so on and so forth.
Like with any medical checkup, depending on the results, your doctor may prescribe you a new regimen or medication or whatever; but it only works if you tend to it and follow the instructions.
Your steps (aka your "prescription") will vary with your goals, so give yourself some grace & patience to get through them, but know that you can (and will) get through them!
Be honest with yourself because while you may have many goals, know that you don't have to tackle em all at once. Prioritize & then act, because this isn’t about quantity as much as it is about quality. You have to cross a bunch of things off your list — no one will know but you so do what’s best for you.
What's great about this self-paced business check-up is that it's something you can (and should) do regularly — every month, every quarter, every half year, every year...whatever feels best for you and your business! There are no wrong answers! Just like a medical checkup, depending on your age and/or other factors, the frequency of your visits will vary, and this is no different. An infant has more regular checkups than a toddler, and in comparison, a teenager has even less. Consider the "age" of your business when deciding how often you will do this.