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3 Questions Every Business Owner Needs to Ask Themselves In July With summer in full swing and the start of the third quarter, it's time to take an honest look at your progress.

By Matthew Toren

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With July here, you may be pondering the escalating heat and long hours of daylight and considering slowing down.

There's a leisurely pace to the summer months that can leave you wanting to luxuriate and take it easy before fall comes back and kicks you into action. However, this seventh month of the year is a critical time for every entrepreneur to take stock of where they're at so far in 2014.

With the somewhat slower pace of the summer months, don't waste this opportunity to work on your business while you have the flexibility to do so. July is the perfect time to evaluate how your annual plan is working.

Related: Your Business' Legal Game Plan for the Summer Slowdown

So pick up a copy of your annual plan and start doing some honest evaluation. Here are three questions every entrepreneur needs to ask themselves to ensure 2014 is the best year yet.

1. What's working? Your annual plan will include facets of your overall business plan. If it's a good annual plan it should already include information about sales, marketing and objectives for your business overall. July is the start of the third quarter and a great time to look back at Q1 and Q2 and determine how well your plan is working so far in the first half of the year.

How are your sales numbers doing now that Q2 is closed out and you have six months of history to review? What objectives have you achieved so far? What's working about your marketing plan and how are those numbers being reported?

It's a good idea if you have a staff to not only review these accomplishments, but to also summarize them and let the staff know what's going well to help them look back and appreciate all you've done. Entrepreneurs are always looking forward, which is a great thing, but sometimes it's nice to take note of how far you've come and recognize your achievements thus far.

2. Where are you falling behind (and how can you catch back up)? Undoubtedly as you reviewed your annual plan for what's working, you identified several areas where things aren't working, or your projected plan is falling behind.

Related: These Numbers, Used Properly, Can Help You See Problems in Advance

While that's perfectly normal, summer is a great time to take stock of reality and then to come up with new ideas on how you can improve. If it's sales, what can the sales team do to get back on track or get ahead? Try asking that team if there are any resources they think would improve their performance or any significant events that account for the lack of meeting objectives.

Get the marketing team and other staff on board to make sure the whole team is on the same page with your annual plan's mid-year progress report. Don't just use this exercise to show what's wrong, use it to pinpoint opportunities to do better and get everyone involved in ideating how to turn things around or improve.

How can you get back on track?

3. What's changed in your market? Keeping up with the market you're in means constant reevaluation of your plan in comparison to what's happening now. Imagine you wrote a real estate investment plan in January of 2008 -- that market looked a lot different by July or August of that year!

A lot can happen in an industry between January and July. Identify what's changed then write out how the plan is going to alter to meet those changing conditions. Also try to incorporate any changes that will work to your advantage and use them to get ahead.

Just because you're meeting your goals in any area doesn't mean you should stop there!

Related: 5 Sales Tips to Recharge During the Lazy Days of Summer

Matthew Toren

Serial Entrepreneur, Mentor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.

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