As we are in the final months of 2015, it is a good time to look at your business and decide how successful your year has been so far and what changes you need to make to have continued success in 2016.

1. Are Your Sales Increasing?

It is critical that you compare your sales from year to year, as well as month over year (for example, are your August 2015 sales stronger than your August 2014 sales). This really helps you see overall annual growth as well as if you have any seasonal highs and lows.

I highly recommend you set up a spreadsheet where you enter your sales for each month of the year (in a column) with sales for the previous year’s months in the column to the left. Then in the column to the right of your current sales determine your sales growth, by month and by year, by entering the calculations:

[sales for Month X 2015 – sales for Month X 2014] / sales for Month X 2014 [sales for 2015 – sales for 2014] / sales for 2014

This will arrive at a percentage. Overall sales should never be down from the previous year. If this is the case, then you need to rethink your business in terms of your offerings, your pricing, your costs and whether you need to invest more in marketing.

2. Are Your Costs Increasing?

It is also important to look at your profit, which is Revenue – Costs. Is your profit up over last year and month over year? Again, if profits are down you need to consider raising your prices and/or lowering your costs, especially if your revenues increased. It doesn’t have to be a huge price increase. If profits are down 10%, then you can easily raise your prices 10% and it should have little negative impact on your business. If your costs have increased, then you need to analyze each cost center (be it supplies, fees, shipping) and see which ones increased in price and find alternatives.

3. What Were Your Revenue Leaders?

Look at which products and/or services performed the best for you in 2015 and consider expanding further in this area, slowly eliminating or reinventing products and services that did not sell as well.

4. What Is Working For Your Competitors?

Take a look at your competitors and see what they are selling, what their customers are saying in their reviews and on their social media sites. Try to garner what is working for them in terms of their business offerings and marketing efforts and see which ideas you can steal.

5. Are You Listening To Your Feedback?

Listen to your customers. Read your reviews, comments, feedback, even ask your customers questions. If they feel your prices are too high, consider lowering them if that makes business sense. If they didn’t like the quality of a product, improve upon it. If there is a product or service you don’t have that they want, consider offering it.

6. What Marketing Efforts Are Working?

You need to study your website analytics, even though it will not tell you which traffic sources converted into sales, it is still a way to decide which efforts you should be spending time on and which you should maybe discontinue. For example, if two-thirds of your traffic is coming from Pinterest and very little from Twitter, then stop wasting time on Twitter and dedicate even more time to Pinterest. If your Google ads are not bringing in a lot of traffic, contact a Google Adwords rep and ask how your ads can be improved. If you have been avoiding social media altogether, then maybe now’s the time to give it a chance. Remember, it is futile to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.

7. Are You Maximizing Your Customer Base?

How many new customers did you get last year? Guess what, they are still potential customers in 2016! Find ways to tap into your already established customer base – either through special offers on your social media sites or a Mail Chimp email campaign – to get additional business from them (as well as referral business) in 2016.