A Business Reflection Guide for Small Business Owners

December 13, 2023

Before we clock off for the year, this is the time for all small business owners to do some business reflection. We need to take a step back from the daily run around and review our business against our vision, our goals, our values. But also, check some business metrics and plant the seed for the upcoming business planning for the year ahead.

I’m ready to clock out. Chuck in the office keys for the next few weeks.


My current worries…?
🎅 What’s the best spot for the Christmas tree?
🎅 What present shall I buy for my favourite niece?
🎅 And what do I fancy on the Christmas menu?

And while I deal with these earth-shattering dilemmas, it allows me to take a step back from what rules my life for the rest of the year.

In my book, taking a break is not only deserved and craved. It’s also essential for the future of my business.



And that’s not a morsel of wisdom I’m going to ignore.


Before we fah-la-la-la-la-la -la through the next month or so, I make time to plant some seeds to work their magic while I take a much deserved break. 🌱

Why Entrepreneurs Need Time For Self-Reflection?

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know I do quarterly reviews with my team.

We celebrate the wins. We discuss and learn from the challenges. We mull over what served us and what didn't. All that insight we feed back into the plan for the next quarter.

But it’s quite logical that, although extremely valuable, the team is predominantly focused on their role in the business. They see things through their own lens. As I said, it’s super helpful.

But it’s not the complete picture.

As business owners, we also need business reflection outside of the team. You know, take a step back from the delivery, the daily run around and review our business against our vision.

Are we leading the business we had in mind… or has it become this soul-sucking creature with a life of its own?

So before I create some distance from my business for the next few weeks, I make sure I take stock and gather the information I need to let the clarity and the a-ha moments flow.

The way I do this is 2-fold.

👉 I ask myself some important self-reflection questions for small business owners.
👉 I gather cut and dry data and review this

The process shouldn’t take too long. Allow yourself an hour, maybe a bit more.

Next, find yourself a spot in the sun where you can be alone with your thoughts.

Alrightly, are you ready?

Step 1: Questions That Encourage Business Reflection

Here’s how you do this.

Read through the questions for business reflection and contemplate the answers. I want you to pay very close attention to the emotions this brings up, because they are clues that will give you deeper insight.

Or you can even do one better.

Do this exercise together with your business coach. They will listen for tip-offs that you, when doing this on your own, might miss. I know when I do this with my coach (Yes, a business coach needs a business coach for these exact reasons) it brings up thoughts and emotions I didn’t even realise were there. So often, that fresh pair of eyes and ears is what you need to see what’s staring you in the face.

If you don’t have a business coach yet, I’m happy to be that person for you, so get in touch for a one-off coaching session in the link below.

As for the business reflection questions….

1. What achievements, big or small, brought you the most joy this year?

Make a list, this can be multiple things. It also doesn’t need to be a massive achievement.

Follow-up question for business reflection: ask yourself WHY? Why did this bring you joy? What was it about that achievement that made you happy?

2. What challenges did you face this year?

Just bullet point them.

Follow-up question for business reflection: what did these experiences teach you? What lesson did you take away from that challenge?

3. Were the actions that you took in your business aligned with your values?

I think this is a very big and important question. This insight will be the key to deliberate actions and solutions in the future.

4. Was your personal life and business life in the proportions you had in mind at the beginning of the year? 

The right balance between work and personal life is personal and can change throughout the years. So how was it for you?

Follow up question for business reflection: Why did you give the answer you just gave? What adjustments could you make in the upcoming year to achieve the right work-life balance for you? (More on this topic here)

5. Where the decisions you made this year aligned to your vision for your business?

Follow-up question for business reflection: What did you do right to ensure the alignment with your vision? Or if it was off, what needs adjusting?

Step 2: Invaluable Business Metrics For Future Yearly Planning

Next, it’s time to dig up some metrics to enable the first steps towards business planning for the year ahead. It takes a dive into your accounting system and the data I recommended gathering in past episodes. (Have a look at this episode.) Maybe you have made a start on this, maybe it’s still work in progress. It’s potent information that will inform much of the reflection you will do on your business and the way forward.

The best time to gather this information was a year ago, the second best time is now. 😉

1. Goals

At the start of 2022, we spoke quite extensively about goals and how to set them.
Go back to the goals you set at the beginning of this year. Did you achieve those goals? Why or why not?

Give yourself a percentage score. Maybe it was 0% because you never made a start on it. (Why was that?) Or maybe you knocked it out of the park with a bright and shining 100%. If you were that successful, it’s important to think about what it was about that goal that made you so successful in achieving it. (It can give you a clue about how to repeat this success in the future.) Most likely though, it was somewhere in between?

2. Growth Metrics

If you made some way of recording the growth metrics throughout the year, these numbers will be easy to access. Otherwise, it might take you a little more effort - but trust me, it will be well worth it.

Look at…

  • New leads (Compare this year vs. previous years)
  • New sales invitations (How many proposals or quotes did you issue?)
  • New clients/projects (Most of my work is repeat business, so I count projects rather than new clients. It may be different for you.)
  • Conversion rate? (This tells you a lot about the area in your business that may need improvement. Maybe your proposal strategy needs fine-tuning? Maybe there is room for improvement in the nurturing process? )
  • New subscribers to your email list

3. Overall Financial Performance

For each month of the year, you want to get Revenue, Expenses and Profit reports.

  • What were your best performing months and why? 
  • What were your worst performing months and why? 

The answer to these questions will give insight into what needs adjusting when the time arrives for business planning for the year ahead.

4. Revenue Per Product Or Service

What product or service generated the most revenue for your business this year?

Can we add fuel to the fire ? What product or service needs focus? But also, what product or service isn’t worth the hassle or the effort and needs scrapping or reducing?

End Of Year Reflection In Business: Planting The Seed

And that, right now, is all you need to do.

It’s essential information that needs to simmer during your break while you lounge by the pool and sip cocktails in the sun. It’s planting the seed, and unknowingly, it will create clarity. Ultimately this will guide the goal setting and planning you will do when the break is over.

Let me know how you get on and how this is working for you?

Need Some Help With That?

Feel intimidated or even too tired to even open your laptop?

Reach out to me. Book a coaching call and I’ll be the extra pair of eyes and ears to help you dissect it all. I promise it’s worth it!

You book your coaching call here.

Take this FREE 2-minute Quiz

Discover how to use your unique personality to systematise and streamline your digital service business or agency so you can scale without sacrifice (do more and work less!)

Subscribe on your favourite Podcast player