Business evaluation: do you do the right things?
Business evaluation is an activity that many business owners forget while they’re in every day’s delusion. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s something they forget because they’re scrambling to solve the day-to-day problems and questions clients have.
But the more structurally you do it, the more you’ll find direction and guidance from it. Especially when you feel lost, overwhelmed, or fearful, it is essential to evaluate why and what you can do to solve it. But you don’t have to only use it to solve difficulties. You can also use business evaluation to develop your business or help it through an upgrade.
There are many ways to do a business evaluation, but what I find most helpful, especially for solopreneurs is to evaluate themselves. It is easy to lose your way when you forget to sometimes smell the roses and see their thorns.
Basic level of business evaluation
The basic level of business evaluation can be done once a day or once a week. Before you end either one, take five minutes to evaluate for a moment and write down your most important actions (MIA’s) for the next day.
It’s so easy to forget that you forgot to take a break or skipped lunch, and before you know it, that vital knowledge is gone. How did you feel today? This week? What can be celebrated, and what can be improved upon?
Do you have a word for the year? You can actively use it in this moment of evaluation. Did you practice your word of the year? For instance, my word of the year has been Joy. I asked myself every week: was this week joyful? If yes, yay! If no, what can I do differently? I often try to do this in my favorite coffee place on a Friday afternoon. I bring my journal and sit there for a while, having my CEO-moment of the week.
Finding learning efficiency
Another thing to reflect on is to find your learning efficiency. You do this when you’ve finished a course. Sit down and evaluate if the course fulfilled the intention with which you started it. Sometimes we do course after course, only to find that you don’t set out to practice it.
It is crucial for all business owners, big and small, to find the learning efficiency to assess what the effect of their investment of time and money was. I was not the first and will certainly not be the last to have fallen into the trap of being insecure and thinking I could solve it with more knowledge. It’s really easy to hide in the role of the eternal student without really implementing the material.
When you do a longer course, you need to ask yourself this question more often to create the opportunity to ask questions. You can also use it to ask for help in certain areas or allow the teacher to redirect their lessons to help you fill your expectations (if possible). For this, you need to have clarity around the intention you had when you started, and it will help you cut down on investing in courses that you’re not going to finish.
Have you ever noticed that when you go for a walk that you often take the same route? This way, your exercise becomes pretty automatic, as are the experiences you get from it. The walk becomes totally different when you consciously decide to do the same route backward. Suddenly you look at the same things differently and see things you didn’t see before.
In the same way, you can observe and reflect from your own experience where you look at the situation as to how it was for you. You associate from the first position your own experience. But you can also do an evaluation from your client’s point of view by imagining how they experienced the session or the lesson you taught them. Listen to their replies, their body language, their questions after the session was over, etc. You can ‘read’ a lot from their behavior.
And lastly, you can take an objective position and reflect from a neutral point of view. For this, you take a moment to meditate and become calm. Then, while your eyes are closed, you take a step from yourself, in your mind. See yourself working in your business and with your client. Follow yourself through a session or a workday. Then at the end of the meditation, open your eyes and write down what you’ve learned.
Reflecting on what your client learned
You can also reflect on the things your client learned. Often you think that the curriculum that you offer is what your client learns. But learning can also take place on a much deeper level. This is because people pick up on single sentences that you never thought were important, which turn out to be super valuable for the client.
I have had experiences where I channeled how things work on a higher level in client sessions. The only thing was that I wasn’t aware I was channeling. But when they came back for the next session, they would often tell me that I had said something that was life-changing with a glimmer in their eyes. This was before I became aware of my ability to channel, but I always found it really cool to hear how I had been of help in a much bigger way than I intended.
Understand that everything beyond the curriculum that creates insight for the client is added value. So ask your client what they learned about themselves when or after they did your training. You may be surprised about what they picked upon.
The Hand Reflection
A more personal way of business evaluation is to do the hand reflection. It is a very personal one, where you use the fingers of your hand to reflect. You start with choosing a situation that you want to reflect on and how you felt. You then work your way through all the fingers of your hand to answer one or more of the following questions:
- I’m really good at this
- I’m proud of this
- This is what made me laugh out loud
- This thing is what I did brilliantly
- This is why I’m doing this (my big why)
- This is my intention
- This is where I want to go with my business
- This was when I gave up
- This was when I got mad and said f*** y**
- This is what I don’t like to do
- This is what I judge in (myself) (the other person)
- These are the values I protect
- This is what I need
- This is how I feel supported
- This is how I care about him/her
- This is what makes me feel small
- This is what I don’t know yet
- This is how I want to grow
- This is what I have to give, and
- This is what I have to receive.
Lean back sessions
A super important form of business evaluation, especially when you have a team or a couple of employees, is the lean-back session.
This is a session in which you leave out the plan and set of KPIs (key performance indicator) and reflect on how you feel about it. I always explain this as a session where you lean back, put your feet up on the table and reflect on how the whole thing makes you feel.
Even though many coaches tell you that you need to be objective when you evaluate, I believe this is impossible. You are part of the game, and so you affect the whole process. You may be part of a problem, even how hard you may have tried to hide it.
When I help organizations reflect, I often notice how there can be a bit of resistance initially. While most coaches look for ways to empower teams, I always focus on the undercurrent. I always say: “If you want anything changed, then this is your moment. If you want to whine, nag, be angry and cry in a way that your boss finally hears you, then this is it.” Of course, I make sure that all the whine gets some cheese with it at some point. I genuinely believe that the CEO or manager has to hear what’s really going on and how many problems their employees are tackling. I instruct them to be mindful to not whine back. People need a leader who listens and does something to solve their problems.
I hold these sessions because a company can reach all its goals while it still doesn’t feel good. For instance, you set a goal to get 25% more clients than last year, but you noticed that you had to work so awfully hard for it and invest so much money to reach that goal that it was hardly worth it. On top of that, you found out that the people you attracted weren’t your favorite client. So even though you reached your goal, you weren’t happy with it.
On the other side, you can also reach your goal when you thought you’d never get there. And sometimes, this can be totally worth the effort. Reaching goals is often not what we expected. We think it will go in a straight line, but it always comes out different than you thought. Below you find my reality.
No matter how you reached the goal through reality, it will be hell yeah for some, while it wasn’t worth the effort for others. This information cannot be found in a KPI. The KPI will only tell you ‘goal reached’. It’s you who has to give it a label how it feels to you.
Questions you can ask during a lean back session are:
- What happened?
- What did you do?
- What didn’t you do?
- What did you think happened?
- Which values were challenged in this situation?
- How did that make you feel?
If you’re interested, I’m happy to take you and your team through a lean-back session. Contact me to ask for information.
The right moment for a business evaluation
A yearly evaluation and reflection on how the year went is a must if you want to have a successful business. Without knowing where you came from and how you got where you are now, you can’t decide on a route to your goals or decide what you need to do to redirect toward your North Star.
People often do it around Christmas to start the following year with a new focus, but I’ve often wondered if the first quarter of the year isn’t a better moment for most of us in the Northern hemisphere. What I see a lot is that people need cocooning during the Winter. Cocooning is a natural phase all humans go through because it is supposed to do that as a species. I mean, only centuries gone, we’d hibernate in a cave trying to survive on a half-eaten deer and trying to stay warm.
But once Spring pops up, we get our energy back, and we’re ready to set some new goals. Knowing that this feels much more natural for many people, I suggest that you wait with your reflection until the second half of February and the first two weeks of March.
Since I’ve turned cocooning into an art form during the Winter, I feel as if I’m losing out on at least the first two months of the year because I’m still in Winter mode. But as everything starts to grow toward Spring, I need new input to decide where to take my business for the next three seasons. More and more, I’m starting to live according to the seasons, and allowing myself to cocoon during the Winter and reflecting through the months of Winter feels so much more natural.
When you do the reflection on the year behind you, you can find some magical prompts to use for reflecting here.
Create an action plan
Having read the above, you need to understand that you’d best NOT do a business evaluation if you’re not planning on taking action to solve problems you find. A business evaluation without a plan of action is a car without an engine — it becomes a metal shed in which you pretend to drive while making car noises, but in reality, hide from the world. To make it even more straightforward, your team or employees will know this and resent you for it. If you’re a solopreneur, the same will happen, but instead, you’ll be resentful toward yourself. At some point, you’ll conclude that you knew that there was a problem for a long time but didn’t tackle it.
But here’s the newsflash: you can’t change anything without doing things differently. To know what you need to change, you need to reflect, but you also need to do something with it. Read this blog to understand my metaphysical view on things: Managing your change process.
When you think about it from a metaphysical point of view, you are here in an attempt to live your purpose. What you want is to be authentic in your business or role as CEO. The more you feel distanced from who you are at origination, the more you’re invited to make better decisions. Your team will invite you to do that without even noticing it.
Most of the time, the circumstances of our lives trigger us to make choices that are moving us away from our brilliance. If you’re lucky to find out that these choices aren’t making you any happier, you’ll start working on yourself to make different choices. Often you need more than one life on a particular issue to really leave this behavior behind you.
We’re all here to allow ourselves to let that light shine brightly, but for that, you need to take action to find out if it is who you are.
Jolanda Bolt is an intuitive akashic coach for courageous soul travelers. She encourages authenticity in human stuff and can be found at www.jolandabolt.com. Subscribe to her email list to receive this article earlier in your inbox, plus a copy of Jolanda’s book on fulfilling your soul purpose.