Wrap the Year Up Right

Published December 20, 2018

Why you should write a year-in-review note to your investors and your team.

As December draws to a close, the natural thing to do is reflect on the year that has passed.

We do this in many ways—holiday cards often include the highlights of the previous twelve months, and New Year’s resolutions typically get set after looking back and deciding what we’d like to improve.

Often, though, the act of reflection that is so instinctual in our personal lives doesn’t carry over into our businesses. The rush to close out Q4 strong keeps us more focused on short-term performance metrics than on the year as a whole.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the potential impact of writing a weekly Friday note. If weekly notes are regular season games, then the year-in-review note is the championship. All of the things that make a weekly note valuable—the personal connection with your team, the ability to reinforce your vision, the tone it sets for company communication—get amplified exponentially in the year-in-review.  

Writing a year-in-review, not just for your team, but also for your investors and stakeholders, is an exercise that will help set you up for success in the year to come.

If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few ideas:


Go back to the beginning

You likely began the year with some big goals. It’s important to revisit those goals at year’s end and track your progress against them. Odds are, your areas of focus have changed over the course of the year, but it’s important to address what you started with. Good vision doesn’t mean sticking to the plan no matter what, but it does mean acknowledging when that plan changes.

Go back to the beginning of the year and look at the things you wanted to accomplish. Which items did you accomplish? Which did you fall short on? And which pivoted into different goals entirely?


Show your work

The year-in-review is a narrative exercise, but it should be backed with data. There’s comfort in the form and structure of numbers. Supplement the qualitative with quantitative figures—if you set out to achieve X, how close did you get? Some high level figures can provide quick context for the work you did this year.

If you’re a Visible user, you can add charts to an update to provide the metrics that best represent your progress for the year.


Give credit where it’s due

A key section of your year-in-review is acknowledgements. If certain individuals or teams did outstanding work over the year, now is a great time to acknowledge that work. Too often, we have recency bias when we give out praise, but the year-in-review provides an opportunity to consider the year as a whole and determine who your rockstars were. Even if a person’s biggest achievement was six months ago, it’s still worth a nod, especially if it’s still impacting the company today.


Give thanks

Leaders succeed because of the people around them. It’s important to recognize this, and there’s no better time than in the year-in-review. Similar to giving credit where it’s due, giving thanks means shouting out the investors and stakeholders that helped you through the year. Acknowledging their contributions—guidance, advice, introductions, and cash alike—will help ensure they continue to help you in the future.


Look forward

After reflecting on the year that has passed, look toward the year to come. The year-in-review gives you the opportunity to start communicating your goals and vision for the coming year. A key to successfully reaching your company goals is to communicate them early and often, so if you haven’t already begun to do so, now is the time. Finish your year-in-review by outlining what you’ll do next.

The end of the year is often a hectic time in both our personal and professional lives. Taking the time to slow down and look back on the year as a whole will not only provide a little calm in the chaos, but it will also set you up for success in the year to come.


If you want to easily build a beautiful, professional year-in-review, Visible can help. You can compose and send a note for free when you try Visible today.

The Visible newsletter brings you weekly, curated fundraising news, articles, and events.