Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, or have had a business of your own for years, it’s important to consider the idea of looking back each year. As we step into another year of business and prosperity, it can be tempting to only look ahead, and only fight toward growth and changes. But, that growth and those changes can only come through reflection of what we’ve done in the past.

Whether this last year was successful for you or not, it’s never a good idea to just ‘ignore’ what happened. Instead, learn from everything you went through in every way possible, because it will end up benefiting you this year, and for many years to come. So, where can you get started on this road to reflection?

Focus on the Positives

It’s always a good idea to start with the best ‘stuff’ from the previous year. Whether you met a goal, finished a big project, or your numbers were higher than you expected, focus on what worked best throughout the year. It’s a strong starting point, and will get your overall reflection off on the right foot. Try listing out 5-10 things that you did well last year to get started.

Reflect on the Hard Parts

What were your biggest challenges last year? How can you avoid going through the same things again? What did you do to overcome those challenges, and come out on top? By knowing the struggles you’ve been through, you can better equip yourself to handle similar ones in the future, and get through them faster, and stronger than before. Every challenge is a learning experience, so use what you’ve learned to move forward this year.

Go Over Finances

One of the biggest stressors for a business can be the budget. How closely did you stick to that budget last year? If you’re able to cut back somewhere, how would it affect your business? You should evaluate your budget, and how to adjust it each year – whether that means increasing or decreasing is, of course, dependent on the year before. But, if you’ve been able to stay close to that budget, that deserves a pat on the back. Try to push yourself a bit harder this year to be even more under budget, even if you increase the overall amount.

Identify Changes

Every year in business should be about growth and change. So, as you’re reflecting the past year, start thinking about a few different ways you want to change this year. Even the smallest changes can make a big difference. These changes don’t necessarily have to be ‘goals’ or huge feats to accomplish. They can simply be the way your business performs, the way you handle things, etc. Change can be a great thing to give your business a little extra ‘boost,’ and there is no better time to start up on that change than at the beginning of a brand new year.

Here’s to a successful, cheerful, and fulfilling 2017!