As a business coach for more than 25 years, I can attest to the power that a good quarterly plan can have on your business and your growth potential. By focusing your best time, money and attention on the top three to five things that will push the needle forward for your business you can reach your goals faster than you imagined. But, creating a good quarterly plan is a skill that must be practiced. Most business owners aren't inherently good at this skill, and may struggle with creating a plan that is both practical for their team and takes into accounts their strengths and weaknesses.
So today, I wanted to share with you some of the things that you should NOT do when planning out your next quarter.
Don't Have Time Blindness
I see this one a lot in a few different forms. It could be that you don't have a realistic idea of how long it will take to achieve certain tasks on your strategic plan and so you over or under commit for the quarter. Is it reasonable for the one person on your IT team to design, wireframe and code an entirely new site over the next three months? Could your content writer commit to more than just re-doing your sales brochure this quarter? Understanding the speed at which things get done within your business, will help you create a more balanced plan that will get you there faster while still being respectful of your team's abilities.
On the same token, be mindful of when you set deadlines. Putting all your action items and milestones at the beginning of the quarter is tempting, but it can make it a lot harder to finish the tasks at hand and do them well. So space out the deadlines to be more realistic.
Don't put off on creating your quarterly action plan till the very last minute. I typically suggest that you start working on your quarterly action plan around the middle of the previous quarter. By then, you will know where you stand on the current projects and be able to start planning for the upcoming one as well. And once you do get your quarterly action plan together, don't put off sharing it with your team members and starting to take action on the items in the beginning of the quarter. Putting things off till the last minute, will prevent you from taking advantage of opportunities in a timely manner- so stay the course and start working on your action items immediately.
Don't Be Vague
The third and final tip that I have for you on things NOT to do when planning your quarter has to do with the goals and action steps within your plan. It is easy to lay out vague goals that encompass a lot of different areas and departments, and then use that as an excuse at the end of the quarter as to why you weren't successful. Instead be very clear on what you want to achieve by the end of the quarter, and always quantify it whenever possible. Instead of saying "I want to increase sales this quarter" say "I want to increase sales by 22% this next quarter." The latter gives you a goal to hit and you are able to measure along the way to feel your success.