Small Business: Learning from the Past to Build a Better Future

Too often, we get so caught up in the day-to-day grind of our work that we forget to take time to revel in the fruits of our labor. But successful business professionals make time for evaluation, reflection, and adjustment. It’s important to make time slow down and reflect on your experiences from time to time.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself at the end of the month (or quarter) to take a look at the past so you can gain meaningful insights on how to create the future of your dreams.

1. What went well? 

What successes did you have last month? Even if you didn’t increase revenue, there are dozens of accomplishments that you may have overlooked as wins.

Did you increase engagement with your audience? Strengthen relationships with potential partners or customers? Add influential contacts to your network? Improve or streamline a process? Maintain a healthier work-life balance?

Think about what went well and how you can continue that forward momentum next month.

2. What went poorly?

Business owners know better than anyone that the road to success is littered with bumps and breakdowns. Maybe a new product flopped, a project was delayed, or you made a decision you later came to regret.

No one likes to dwell on failure. The key is to understand it and determine what went wrong so you avoid repeating the outcome in the future. 

3. What would I do differently next time?

If you did the same thing again– a product launch, website redesign, marketing campaign, sales funnel, software switch– what would you do differently? Would you listen to your gut? Do more research before making a decision? Act faster? 

4. What opportunities would I say “yes” or “no” to if they came up again?

Opportunities aren’t always created equal. Which ones really resulted in forward movement toward a goal?

Which speaking opportunities drove revenue? Which conferences added valuable contacts to your network? Which marketing campaigns or softwares brought in the most revenue for the least amount of time?

Use what you’ve learned to say yes to the opportunities that will result in the most forward momentum. 

5. What did I enjoy the most? The least?

A founder’s passion is one of the most important factors in a company’s success or failure. That’s why venture capitalists look for founders who are visibly, tangibly, palpably excited about their company. Why? Building your vision can require weathering back-to-back 12-hour workdays, difficult clients, mountains of paperwork, mazes of legalese, and a stream of failures on the road to success. You have to love what you do to stay the course when things are difficult.

To keep feeding your passion and avoid burnout, it’s important to think about what aspects of your business you enjoyed. Did you enjoy the client-facing tasks most, or did you prefer streamlining operations? Were there tasks where you had fun unleashing your creativity, or do you prefer handing off those types of projects?

If you’re having a hard time identifying projects you didn’t enjoy, think about where you were prone to procrastination. With this in mind, you might consider delegating those types of tasks to your team or outsourcing them to a contractor.

The Bottom Line

As the saying goes, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” It’s important to learn from each product launch, grant application, pitch competition, marketing campaign, and every other project undertaken so that you can achieve greater success when setting and pursuing your goals in the years ahead.

Want Future Hindsight?

As a part of our community, you can benefit from other entrepreneurs’ experiences to help you navigate challenges, gain best practices, avoid common pitfalls, and take advantage of opportunities you may have overlooked. Click here to join EnrichHER’s Founder LinkedIn Group today.

About EnrichHER:

EnrichHER is a financial technology platform that matches revenue-generating companies led by women and founders of color to individual and institutional sources of funding. Since 2017, EnrichHER has deployed upwards of $4 million through its platform and matched business-owners to $13 million in working capital through its Accelerator. By providing capital, coaching, and connections, we are fueling the fastest-growing demographic of business owners. Our network has engaged with over 23,000 advocates through its digital community and in-person activations.

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