As the year comes to an end, make a commitment to sit quietly for 15 minutes daily and answer one of the questions below.
Unlike the end of financial year, this goodwill review is about the heart and soul of your business, not its financial performance. As such, you need to totally ignore the money data we are so used to working with. Try and avoid any answers that relate directly to making or spending money.
Use this opportunity to seriously consider the effects of your business on society, your community, yourself and the ones you love. This is your total value contribution to the world. How have you moved humanity forward this year?
1. What would the world be missing if your business had not existed?
Positive: Teenagers saved money by not purchasing something they did not need.
Negative: Your local school children missed out on an opportunity to contemplate their futures.
2. How has your business enriched your life this year?
Positive: I took all my long weekends off. I did things that would not have been possible had I not had my own business.
Negative: I fretted constantly about the state of my record keeping.
3. How has your business enriched the lives of those love?
Positive: I had the opportunity to do what I wanted with the people I love.
Negative: I have only seen my child awake a dozen times.
4. How has your business enriched the lives of your suppliers?
Positive: Working with you has provided them with a sense of purpose and meaning.
Negative: They are working significantly longer hours with no extra rewards.
5. What were the notable feedback you received from a client?
Positive: “You over delivered every time.”
Negative: “I now realise that you sold me a service that I didn’t need.”
6. Did you engage in any activities primarily for monetary gain?
Positive: I said no to a client I knew to be unethical.
Negative: I did work for a client whose product I did not believe in. .
7. Has your business raised the bar in an area of your industry or sector?
Positive: I insisted that all my suppliers have integrated community programmes.
Negative: I came up with a legal but unethical scheme to increase my short term advantage.
8. Did your business treat people like you would want to be treated?
Positive: When a customer accidentally spilt her coffee, I cheerfully gave her another one on the house.
Negative: I engaged a telemarketing company to invade the privacy of strangers.
9. Did your business follow thorough on your promises?
Positive: I promise to be more innovative. I am ready for experimentation, active questioning and spectacular failures.
Negative: I professed to care about quality, but I know my output sets a new low in industry benchmarks.
10. Did you take full responsibility for all your actions?
Positive: When I made a mistake with configuring a client’s computer server, I informed them immediately, admitted my mistake, explained the situation and refunded their out of pocket expenses.
Negative: Every time a client complained, I won each argument because I could prove that I had control over each situation.
11. Was there a key incident where you have stuck to your gut instincts/vision instead of following accepted wisdom?
Positive: Even though my business vision is about “giving everyone a fair go”, I did not contract a person with a disability who could do the job because I thought my client would not understand.
Negative: I stood my ground against an unreasonable customer. The customer violated my core value of respect.
12. Have you appropriately rewarded those who have contributed extraordinarily to your business?
Positive: My virtual secretary came up with a great idea to halve photocopying costs. I sent her a bunch of flowers to thank her for passing the savings on to me.
Negative: I tried to quibble on my virtual secretary’s pricing. She should be happy to have my business.
On New Year’s Day, make a point of celebrating each and every positive contribution you have documented during this business goodwill exercise. As you head into the new year, set some audacious goals to fill in the areas that are wanting.
Have a great end of year break. You are taking one, right?!
Article authored in conjunction with Zern Liew.