As the year comes to a close it’s a great time to pause and do a post-mortem on all that we’ve accomplished, all that we want to continue, and what we’re willing to let go of. A simple Start-Stop-Continue exercise is a great way to kick off your Q4 post-mortem and set you up for business planning as Q4 rounds out.
A quick way to engage in this exercise is first to look back at your marketing plans, at your financial statement, at your client roster and engagement for the past 12 months. You want to look over some of the tangible metrics you have for how the business performed this year. Take out a piece of paper (or open a new Word document) and consider journaling about the next few questions. Usually when I do this exercise with clients we spend about 2 minutes journaling about what shows up in each of these post-mortem areas and then discuss the theme across all three. If you’re doing this exercise independently I encourage you to follow a similar process.
You’ll find you have more in common with other entrepreneurs than you think.
Take out a timer and a piece of paper, review the questions, and then allow yourself to write freely. If you’re willing to take this on with a group I highly recommend it. Consider using these as prompts where everyone can first spend two to three minutes on each question. And then engage in discussion around the themes. I think you’ll find you have more in common with other entrepreneurs than you think. As you’re doing this post-mortem exercise you’ll find new ways to grow as you begin planning for the new year.
REVIEW YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
The first question in this exercise is to simply review all that you’ve accomplished across the various metrics that you’re examining in your business. As you look back across the last 10 to 12 months what value have you created and what was most valuable in what you were able to create in the business for your clients and for yourself? Take your time with this one and truly examine how the year went. If you keep a planner or a journal of milestones or an accomplishments journal I recommend that you use this as a way to jog your memory for all that you have created in the past year.
THE START-STOP-CONTINUE MANTRA
Now most people will conduct these next three sections using the Start-Stop-Continue mantra. And this way you first identify all the things you don’t want to do, all the things you want to start doing, and finally the things that you want to continue. I like to remix this process and first start with all the things that you want to continue.
Question #1 CONTINUE Activities
Looking at the past year, what are some of the activities that gave you the biggest results? How will you continue to engage in these activities in the new year? What did these activities demonstrate to you about your strengths as a business owner?
Question #2 START Activities
This second question takes us to the start phase. You should look back at this year and all the things that give you energy, that you want to continue. Consider what activities you could start that give you high energy, and do some of those energizing activities. Sometimes this is a place where you get to take on a new project. Or endeavor a new product line or service because it directly impacts your work in your high energy areas. Did you find you’re tremendous with a particular product working with a particular subsection of your client base? How can you be more intentional about that in the year to come?
Question #3 STOP Activities
Finally in this start-stop continue remix we look at all the activities that you want to stop. as you look back on the past year what activities were draining and did not serve you? What are you willing to leave behind and not engaging anymore?
And there you have it folks: the Start-Stop-Continue remix that I think is the perfect post-mortem for any business. Remember, start by looking at your year in review, and then examine how those things make you feel both emotionally and energetically, to determine how you would want to move forward for the year to come. If you’re looking for additional strategies on annual planning check out the other articles on this website on the topic.
JOIN OUR ANNUAL BUSINESS PLANNING WORKSHOP (Live!)
And of course you’re welcome to join me on the She Runs It community for the upcoming Annual Business Planning Workshop where we dig into some of those steps in detail. Happy Q4 and cheers to a New Year!