Reviewing the Progress Report: An Annual Tradition

What is it about a year that makes us want to look back? Every December and January, we find ourselves watching Year in Review specials (which recap the past year in news, entertainment, and sports), reading movie critics' Top Ten lists for the year, and listening to the State of the Union address. Something about these summaries, or examinations of what has happened in the past, helps all of us understand what's coming next. Companies do it throughout the year by issuing their annual reports, as they prepare their financial statements and make comments about “looking forward” to the opportunities and challenges ahead. Other organizations prepare reports and analyses that you can read and compare to your own results. To find such reports, check out some of the following sources:

  • Government Web sites, such as the Small Business Administration (
  • Industry associations, such as the National Retail Federation
  • National membership-based organizations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Industry analysts or researchers, such as Gartner or Forrester Research
  • Companies or organizations that collect data from their large customer base and then create best-practices guides, such as MailChimp, Hubspot, and Eloqua

No matter what size company you're running, seeing a report of the past year always helps you judge how you're doing. You can easily become so caught up in the day-to-day operations of your company — adding to your ...

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