As December rolls around, we take the opportunity to look back over 2018. Has this been your year or have there been some missed opportunities?

Perhaps this year was a milestone or a personal achievement for you. If you got married, expanded your family or landed the dream job - congratulations. If this was the year for you to set goals and plan out your life - equally, congratulations. Sometimes to set the marker for what you want from life can be a bigger achievement, plenty of people sail through life not really knowing who they are or what would make them truly happy. It is a gift to have that clarity, so well done you!

In the news:

This year, gender equality landed back in the headlines in a big way, with frustration over slow progress causing a number of protests and law changes. Iceland became the first country to set down legislation which enforces daily fines for companies who don’t commit to transparent and equal pay for all employees. The fact that this is seen as a victory in 2018 shows the lengths that are still needed across the globe.

If you feel in 2018 that you have missed an opportunity or been treated unfairly because of your gender (or any other factor) then 2019 is the time to do something about it. It is time to lose the boss who makes inappropriate comments, the manager who only promotes men and the team member who ignores your contributions and work somewhere you are not only appreciated but respected. If your concern is getting another job, look into going it alone. It might be intimidating but this is not the time to be held back by your fears, this is the time to be motivated by them! Being your own boss has a multitude of advantages and there is zero discrimination!

GDPR and The Cambridge Analytica scandal changed the way we think about our online privacy. Consumer behaviour has changed as a result and we expect the ramifications of that to continue into 2019. With changing consumer patterns come fresh challenges as a small business owner, so remember to continually test the markets and do your research.

SmartPA’s Most Read:

SmartPA’s most read blog of the year was about successful diary management - so perhaps a lot of you are struggling to manage your time. First time business owners and the self-employed often don’t know how to prioritise effectively, so why not read the blog and put an action plan down on paper? Carve out slots in your day for emails, meetings and thinking time (perhaps the most important). Productivity will affect what you can achieve next year, so think carefully.

Looking Ahead:

When everyone starts considering their 2019 strategies, what are the questions you’re going to ask? What are my new goals? Have my resources changed? What worked well in 2018 and what flopped? Did any particular service appeal to a client? These are all questions you need to ask of your activities and accurate answers are how you will take your business to the next level.

Be honest with yourself. If you missed a target, think about why? What can you do differently to improve your results. Brushing over any failures here won’t help you, so do your review in private and be as honest as possible. There should be no judgement in a good evaluation and be sure to stick with positive language and absolutely no blame.

The blessing and curse of being a business owner is that everything is down to you. Relish that burden, even if you found yourself exhausted this year. It is all good experience and feeds into your strategy for next year. Perhaps you need some extra help - we hear SmartPA offer a wealth of services through their community support!

If 2018 hasn’t been your year, then don't panic. Goals fallen short of aren’t failures but opportunities for reflection. This may read as a meaningless cliche, but a positive mindset can make all the difference. Work-life harmony, more family time - whatever you are searching for, we can help you deliver a balanced, more successful life. Autonomy is an incredibly attractive tool -- whether you only want part time work so you can focus on a young family, or you intend to be a business mogul, you can fit your business goals into a SmartPA model.

Congratulations on a fantastic 2018, and good luck with your future. Make 2019 your year.