by Kate Vandeveld

We’re a few weeks into the New Year! If you’re like us, you may have started the year with big ideas about how you’ll grow and change this year. These ideas are exciting, but they can also be a little bit daunting.

It can be easy to move forward without taking stock of where you are now, how far you’ve come, and where you’d like to be. Launching into the year with the same habits and game plan is easy, but to start off the New Year on the right foot, you need to take a step back for a minute.

Successful businesses (and personal brands, too) take time to look back, evaluate, assess, and plan. If you’re ready to get moving, start here:

Find a Support System 

Before you do anything else, do this: find a person or group of people who understand where you’re coming from and are working toward similar goals as you. You can find these people in so many ways: through your co-working space, in an online group for entrepreneurs, or at an in-person meet-up for entrepreneurs, just to name a few.

Whether you’re able to help each other grow your businesses, or even just bounce ideas off of one another, these supportive connections will make all the difference when you’re feeling stuck or uncertain.

Get Your Finances Straight 

We often connect with entrepreneurs and consultants who are incredibly organized and on top of it when it comes to their work, but are totally lost when it comes to finances. We’re no strangers to this feeling ourselves!

This is definitely an area where you should evaluate your level of understanding, and find someone else to help you if you need it. There’s no shame in admitting your shortcomings and seeking support. Especially if the alternative is avoiding it all together!  

If hiring an accountant seems like too much, you can turn to free services like Next Door, a Chicago-based service that provides free financial counseling services, or intuit’s mint app, which allows you to look at how you’re spending and create a budget for yourself. Getting your finances straight isn’t fun for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be so bad either!

Do a Personal Digital Audit

When you’re first setting off in a new career direction, your digital presence is top of mind. You want to make sure there’s nothing weird that comes up when someone looks you up online, and that your own digital assets represent the work you do and the person you are.

After awhile, though, you might lose track of your online presence. Now is a good time to do a quick audit of your own online presence. Is your website up to date? Do your social platforms still accurately represent you? Take a few minutes to review each platform, and make any edits you see fit.

Evaluate Your Own Interests & Needs

When business is steady, or you’ve been doing the same kind of work for an extended time period, it’s easy to fall into a steady state. But taking the time to evaluate your work and adjust accordingly is incredible important. What have you enjoyed doing, and what have you dreaded? Which services have been successful for your business, and which are more time and / or trouble than they’re worth?

Pivoting your business model or the services you offer can be scary, especially if you’re feeling secure. But it can allow you to better position yourself and your business for success in the long term. So think it through, bounce ideas off of your team, and make the moves you need to help your business thrive and ensure it aligns with your interests, as much as possible.

 Set Goals & Make a Plan

Once you’ve taken these steps to review and analyze your work, it’s time to set yourself up to grow and change. This process looks different for everyone, but whether you develop a strategic plan, think through a logic model, or write it down on paper, planning is crucial to your success.  

And set some goals, too. How many new clients would you like to acquire this quarter? Do you want to figure out the best way to build impact into your business model? Think through how you can be more sustainable in your operations? Move toward better work/life balance? Are you looking for more credibility or visibility? What does that look like? Whatever your goals are, take the time to think them through and develop your plan around how you’ll make them happen.


Before you get overwhelmed, which is so easy to do (we know), recognize that you don’t have to accomplish these steps in a week. Instead, set aside a certain amount of time each day or week to tackle something different.

What are some of the tools you use to evaluate your work and strategize for the future? Share with us! We’re all in this together. Here’s how: