Assessing Annual Performance – How Did Your Year Measure Up?


By Stephanie Clark.

A business owner since 2007, I’ve not always been as attuned to business as I could have been. If I were to begin again, I would incorporate an annual business review into my practice. Why? Because you don’t know what to fix if you don’t know what’s broken!

Admittedly, I am not an entrepreneur at heart; I am a writer. And yet, if I wish to succeed as a self-employed writer, I cannot ignore basic business principles. I urge all, whether self-employed or not, to take a half day or so to take stock of how 2017 measured up so that you can more productively address how to structure 2018.

Milestones and Achievements

What was new in your business? And what did you achieve? Be sure to consider both what you planned or hoped to achieve and any ad hoc opportunities that fell serendipitously into your business lap.

Once you’ve identified these, you can add valuable information to your website or blog.


If you aspire to grow in your business, leadership is critical.

  • How were you able to demonstrate leadership in your field?
  • How many Career Professionals of Canada online training courses or workshops did you attend, for example? Did you contribute thought leadership, lead a workshop, or take a leadership course?
  • How many times did you post articles or links to timely or thought-provoking career related articles on LinkedIn? Did you establish a business Facebook presence or a Twitter following?
  • Where did you volunteer time or insights? What decisions did your input influence?

Once you’ve noted where you’ve been and what you’ve done, you can determine appropriate tangential or entirely new opportunities to pursue.

Financial Goals

If you want to get to $50K or even $100K in earnings, not unusual in our profession these days, you need to develop tactics to achieve your goal. The first step, though, is to analyze the past year’s financial achievement.

Look not only at what you earned, but how many inquiries you replied to, how many of those inquiries resulted in landing new clients, which products the clients ordered, which services you had to refer, and so on. These metrics are important, or should be.

Obstacles Overcome

Did you overcome any obstacles last year? Obstacles to landing clients, earning more per project, finding an appropriate niche, for example?

By analyzing metrics, as suggested above, you’ll see where you stumble. If you had three inquiries a week and landed only one in six opportunities, you could consider sales training. If your client contracts typically include only the résumé, business and sales coaching may be the ticket to expanding your average sale to today’s recruitment “golden trio”: résumé, cover letter, and LinkedIn.

Health and Fitness

The standard new year resolution, to begin to exercise or lose 20 pounds, never dies, it seems. Rather than admonish you to set a goal in this regard, I encourage you to find a way to move during the day.

Set your computer to alert you at every hour and spend even three little minutes jumping on a mini-trampoline, running up and down the stairs, or stretching in a yoga “plank” pose. There are countless easy-to-do movements, stretches, or strengtheners that require no special equipment (there go our excuses!).


Evaluate how 2017 felt. Is your recollection one of inundation, frustration, exhaustion?

Self-employed people struggle with balance. Sometimes we are inundated with inquiries; other times, nada. Balance doesn’t have to be a daily measurement; it can be quarterly.

The idea is to select a balance that suits your own rhythms. If you need an extra day off weekly, book that into your schedule. If, however, you love to dive in and work hard for a few months and then schedule off a whole week or two, do it.

Giving Back to Community

Where or how did you give back to community – either your physical, local community or online professional one? Giving back can provide lovely stories to share in a blog, newsletter, or on your website. And it just feels good!

If you find yourself lacking in this area, consider volunteering with Career Professionals of Canada. Its many volunteers keep it vibrant and relevant.

Final Thoughts

Before you begin this exercise it’s a good idea to first define your version of success. For some it’s achieving a $100K year, and for others, it’s earning just enough to live life according to their individual needs or values.

For me, it’s always largely been about keeping a healthy balance, while still being able to help my kids, put a bit away, and collect a few books and source unique beads to keep me happily reading and beading when not writing résumés.

Along with establishing a baseline that defines success for you, adding metrics will benefit your next business analysis. Noting what you accomplished and where the gaps were, this exercise will highlight what is remarkable now. It’s an excellent way to pinpoint where you have significant stories to share for marketing purposes.

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

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Good points and something I do yearly -making a plan and writing it down helps to solidify it.

Putting intentions down on paper definitely helps solidify it, as you put it Dorothy. In fact, I like to take a big piece of paper (like newsprint from IKEA), and create first a jumble of ideas with offshoots. Some can be kind of “out there” and some quite mundane. This kind of brainstorming gets it all out – and over several days, not just one session – and then we can distill yea or nay, selecting a small and manageable number.

Great advice and words of wisdom, I will apply to my business.

Thanks, Elaine! See the idea for brainstorming in my comment to Dorothy. It’s a fun exercise to undertake once last year’s assessment has been conducted, and we turn our attention to coming up with goals. I like to use different colours of markers, add arrows and stars and even pictures from magazines – make it fun!

I took the self employment route after my program was cancelled due to lack of funding. I really do think that I have achieved some work/life balance. My typical day may not be traditional but it allows me the flexibility and freedom to accommodate more aspects of my life other than just ‘work’. All too often at year end, I review my year but inadvertently concentrate on all those things that I didn’t do but meant too. Stephanie, your article has reminded me to recognize all that I have accomplished not just what I didn’t. Thanks for the reminder!

That’s great, Christine, and thanks for sharing. Yes, reminding ourselves that we made time to meet with more friends, read a great novel, take a perhaps non-work related course, or do some self-care – these are equally important to a life “rich” in experiences. I’m really happy to know that my words prompted important memories for you!