This time is ideal for assessing business performance – pondering both how well you’ve travelled over the past year and how the new year is shaping up.
Every year the major players at the Big End of Town, let’s call them Big Corp., have to produce an Annual Report for presentation to their key audiences: shareholders and stakeholders.
These people have invested their hard-earned cash and have a right to know what Big Corp. has been doing with it. Shareholders and stakeholders are naturally extremely interested in the state of the market; they want their investment validated and most importantly, they’re keen to hear how Big Corp. see the future.
Annual Reports are an opportunity for Big Corp. to really tell it like it is and to ensure the support of shareholders and stakeholders as it moves forward. Furthermore, Annual Reports are an essential weapon in Big Corp’s Marketing and Public Relations arsenal. Armed with a bullish Annual Report, Big Corp. can create interest and awareness and so attract more money to play with.
Okay, enough of Big Corp., let’s look at you and your solo business, we’ll call you Solo Inc.
Imagine you are preparing an Annual Report for Solo Inc. Consider what it might contain.
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Here are some questions to get you started:
1. How have you performed?
When assessing business performance, you’ll need a firm grasp of the market in which you operate. You’ll have to know what your competitors have been up to and how you have traded in relation to them.
Talk about the opportunities you’ve made, the trends you’ve seen and be brave enough to confess to any decisions that were misplaced.
2. How equipped were you?
Here you’ll need to be confident about your procedures and structures. You’ll have to expose the foundations of Solo Inc. and if they’re a little shaky, be able to discuss your plans to make them firm.
You’ll need to demonstrate your ability to work ‘on’ your business and show a commitment to professional development and training.
3. Where’s it all headed?
Regardless of your current business performance, your audience are going to be most interested in what you make of the future. They’ll want to know what you see around the corner, how you plan to maximise opportunities and what steps you’ll take to avoid pitfalls.
But to truly grasp the importance of an Annual Report, to get why as soloists we should seriously consider addressing these issues, we must look at our unique audience.
Look around and remind yourself who comprises your shareholders and stakeholders. Your clients and customers, certainly; your prospects and advocates, undeniably.
But more important than these groups are those who support you with their love and friendship. These are the people who believe in you, keeping you motivated when you can’t see the wood for the trees.
The people who deserve to know what’s really going on, are your family and friends. Tell them what you’ve been up to, acknowledge their role in your evolution and excite them with your plans.