Your Most Important Meeting of the Year: The Annual Business Review

With less than 60 days left until the end of the year, business owners are likely starting the process of evaluating the results of 2010 and formulating resolutions for 2011.

We suggest using this opportunity to hold an “Annual Business Review” meeting. The Annual Business Review helps ensure that you are working on your business each year, as well as in your business. Here are some suggestions for business owners to make the most of this opportunity.

Formalize your Annual Business Review meeting –

Schedule uninterrupted time for this meeting and put it on your calendar as if you were meeting with your best customer – stick to the time. If you have a trusted advisor that is willing to listen and help hold you accountable, that is even better. Follow an agenda.

The Agenda –

Begin with the end in mind – To accurately review your progress each year as a business owner, you must know what you are shooting for and have a time frame for getting there.

One thing is certain – someday you will leave your business, and we, along with your family members, employees, and other professional advisors hope your goal is not to “die at your desk.” Therefore, start by creating a vision for your exit as the ultimate highlight of your career. Answer the following three questions:

  1. My business needs to be worth $_________________________: for me to retire financially secure, or move on to the next venture in my life;
  2. My ideal successor would be: my next generation, or key employee(s), or an outside third-party;
  3. I plan to keep working in my business: until I reach age ______, or I attain $______________________ business value, or my children reach _____________________ stage in life, or (other)__________________________.

Next, refer to the checklist below of everything you’ll want to do within your timeframe to maximize your success. Select from the list a realistic number of items that you will resolve to do in 2011.

When you hold future Annual Business Reviews, refer to your vision and checklist again, make any necessary changes, scratch off what you accomplished, and determine next year’s resolution(s). Continue to take items off your list each year.

Annual Business Review Checklist

“This year I resolve to:” (check all that apply):

Human Resources:

¨  Develop a management team

¨  Train key employees to assume my day to day activities

¨  Trim/Prune payroll if possible

¨  Hire missing talent

¨  Create human resources manual

¨  Begin using “non-compete, non-solicitation, non-disclosure” agreements


¨  Update my corporate governance documents

¨  Update/formalize my partnership/shareholder agreements

¨  Update my Buy-Sell Agreement and funding mechanisms (if applicable)

¨  Create and fund a Sole Owner Continuity Plan (if applicable)

¨  Remove my personal guarantees wherever possible

¨  Renegotiate all of my leases and other contractual agreements


¨  Update/renegotiate all of my vendor/supplier agreements

¨  Clean up my premises – increase my “curb appeal”

¨  Document my systems and processes – create an Operations Manual – computerize my business if necessary

¨  Shop all of my current business services i.e. phone, internet, cell, payroll, etc. and cut costs wherever possible

¨  Sell or replace any obsolete or extra equipment


¨  Clean up my financial statements and tax returns going forward

¨  Clean up inventory and cost of goods sold going forward

¨  Obtain/shop my existing working capital financing

¨  Pay down debts

¨  Review and formalize my cash flow management, collection policies and clean up my accounts receivable

¨  Review, update, and shop all of my insurance policies

¨  Perform or update my business valuation

Sales & Marketing:

¨  Update/enhance my marketing materials and implement new marketing channels if applicable (website, social media)

¨  Reduce exposure to customer concentration – diversify my customer base

¨  Set up a system (Dashboard) to track where my customers are coming from

¨  Explore/implement any ideas for new products, services, and/or marketing channels


¨  If necessary, share this year’s items with the appropriate professional advisor(s) and ask for help

Keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive, but these items are in your best interest while you own your business, and certainly worthwhile goals to maximize your ultimate success.

We realize looking at the list as a whole seems daunting. The idea is to complete what you can each year so that you are making progress toward your vision. Also this is a living document. You should expect items and their priorities to change over time as you reach goals and plateaus. You certainly don’t want to face this entire list six months before your planned departure date, or worse, face the value consequences having most of these items still open might create.

For more information on conducting an Annual Business Review, checklist action items specific to your business, prioritizing your resolutions over time, or qualified professional referrals that can help, contact Nick Rodites at or 407-620-9042.

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