Every quarter counts for small business owners. As the first quarter of 2018 draws to a close, it’s a pivotal moment to review what has worked in a business plan – and what has been less successful. By taking stock every three months, changes can be made that will lead to yearlong success.
My book Fearless Living: 8 Life-Changing Values for Breakthrough Success discusses how to create a business strategy that will help ensure prosperity. By focusing on making an annual plan that is a living document, and one that allows a change in direction when new challenges arise, business owners can hold themselves personally accountable and stay disciplined to achieve professional – and personal – objectives.
Dividing the year into four parts allows businesses to take a step back and adapt to new circumstances. Below is a simple five-point plan to jumpstart the quarterly review:
- Clarify objectives and your mission
Make sure you are 100% clear on your business goals. It can be a growth level, sales increase, scaling up office space or how much social impact you plan to achieve. Whatever you are pursuing, make sure to define it in specific terms.
- Identify personal goals
Outside of your professional role, take stock of your personal goals and how your business performance impacts them. For example, if your goal is to pay off a home mortgage, review your payment schedule vs. business expenses and profits. If your goal is to increase your personal wealth, determine a realistic objective and steps you’ll take to achieve that.
- Revisit annual forecast
Three months in and you should have a sense of how your business is progressing vs. your expectations. If necessary, adjust your monthly and quarterly benchmarks. Be careful not to give up on an annual objective prematurely while balancing achievable stretch goals. Always keep your business forecast visible as a reminder of what you’re driving towards.
- Revitalize your action plan
Each quarterly review brings a good time to gain clarity of what you need to do more of, less of and/or better, internally and externally to achieve success. Consider opportunities to gain additional knowledge, if you’ve assessed a gap, or to learn new skills.
- Plan the next three quarters
Take a serious look at your annual business plan with a pencil in hand. Mark it up with your assessment of what is working and what is not. Map out doing more of what has worked and either modifying or eliminating actions that are not effective. The end of the quarter is a perfect time to revise a plan of action that includes what you want to achieve through specific actions a timeline for achieving it and benchmarks to measure for success.
After conducting a first quarter review, execute a revised action plan and your business will stay on track for 2018 success. Determination and a drive for results requires that you Review, Revise, Retry, and Repeat, on a regular basis; whether it is monthly, quarterly or other.