Commercial Currents: The New Year—A Time to Reflect on Your Business

Craig Olson
Posted 2019-12-16

The New Year is a popular time for self-reflection. Many people make New Year’s resolutions around their health or well-being. They buy gym memberships, start new diets, or start flossing their teeth. The New Year is a great time to check in on the health of your business, as well as your body. Most of us here in Maine are heading into the slow time of year, so we finally have the time to take a step back and evaluate the big picture.

Check in on your business model

Nobody loves writing a business plan, but conventional wisdom says you’re supposed to check in on your business plan annually. Which is why we love the Business Model Canvas. It’s a great quick initiative tool to check in on how things are going. It asks great questions like: what is your value proposition, what problem are you solving, and how are you doing it? 
Watch this video to learn more: Business Model Canvas Explained

Check in on your culture

Even if you have just one employee, it’s never too late to start thinking about company culture. It’s one of the most important indicators of the health of your business. You want your employees to want to be there and feel empowered in their work. The Zappos case study is one of our favorites. During the month-long training to answer customer service calls at Zappos, each trainee is offered $2,000 to quit on the spot. The CEO, Tony Hsieh, believes that this is an optimal way to offer an out for those who feel they won’t be a perfect fit in the company. But even if you don’t want to take it to that extreme, identifying your values, vision, and the motivating force behind your business in crucially important. Here’s a guide to writing your mission statement if you don’t yet have one. Even if you do have one, it’s also a great tool to use to check back in on your mission statement and make sure it still fits your business: A Step-by-Step Exercise for Creating a Mission Statement

Check in on your finances

This one is a bit of a no-brainer and likely something that you’re already doing. Pull those year-over-year reports and check on any expenses that were out of whack this year. It’s also a good idea, if you have employees, to do this with them. Get them invested in the expenses associated with their work and the business as a whole. This is called Open Book Management, a management style which engages all employees in the making and spending of money in your business. It’s been shown to lead to greater profitability, more empowered employees, and a healthier culture. Learn more about Open Book Management here.


What We Do

The Island Institute’s Small Business Team provides business and financial planning to help entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of starting and growing a business. For more information on our small business support services, feel free to contact Craig Olson or Claire Donnelly

Commercial Currents is an email and blog newsletter that shares buoyant stories from Maine’s island and coastal communities about economic stability and resilience. To find archived editions, go to

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