The first quarter is the kickoff to the year and your chance as a leader to put your business on the right path for the months ahead. Checking in with your team, reviewing last year's results and setting goals are all great ways to make sure you're headed in the best possible direction.

Below, six entrepreneurs share their Q1 plans and how they hope to get 2018 started on the right foot.

Plan a kick-off party.

"Our Q1 kick-off party is a celebratory event that allows us to share our year's goals and strategies with everyone in a single space," says Kelly Woo, co-founder and principal at wealth management firm Profectus Financial. We often think about planning holiday parties to wrap up the year, but a fun event can be a great way to start the new year, too.

"This facilitates global understanding of our objectives among every individual involved, as well as a shared desire to help everyone -- team and clients alike -- reach those goals," she adds.

Hold a fun all-hands meeting.

Suneera Madhani, CEO and founder of payment processor Fattmerchant, suggests holding a company-wide meeting quarterly to get everyone on the same page.

"Every quarter, my company gets together for an all-hands meeting to review business items and the plan for the quarter ahead. In Q1, we are planning something extra special to help our quickly growing team get to know each other better," notes Madhani. "Not only will we be going over initiatives for the company, but we'll work on team building, which will energize everyone for an amazing year."

Discuss the good, bad and ugly.

If you're honest with yourself, you probably know not everything went as well as it could have last year. That's exactly why you should take time to look back at both your shortcomings and your wins as you plan how you'll move forward this year.

"I love ending the year with a postmortem," says Sweta Patel, growth advisor with startup agency Silicon Valley Startup Marketing. "I want to ensure team members have the tools they need to succeed and meet KPIs. We go in depth about what worked and what didn't. Then, I discuss what success will look like in the coming year and remind the team of our core values. This helps us collaborate on an effective strategy to meet the goals for the coming year."

Put a number on it.

Scott Baxter, CEO and founder of golf lesson directory PlayYourCourse, starts the new year by setting tangible goals for each of his team members so everyone knows exactly where they're headed.

Baxter says: "Each quarter, every employee sets a specific, number-based goal. For example, Jessica will drive 1,200 new users a month to our site with Facebook, or Keith will increase our conversion rate at checkout by 1% this quarter. It's amazing what your company is capable of when each employee has a tangible, clearly defined goal they're working to achieve. We then meet monthly to make sure we're on track."

Engage with a change of scenery.

The beginning of the year can be a great time to shake off the winter doldrums with new adventures and team bonding. "We plan to take to the outdoors for a four-day team-building exercise at the start of the new year, simply because I have seen it work wonders in the past," notes Derek Robinson, founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Top Notch Dezigns.

"I was part of a similar exercise at my last job and, upon our return, just about every employee was happier and more relaxed around coworkers. There was a surge in new ideas and involvement went up a few notches."

Hold an experiment priorities reveal.

The new year is the perfect time to try new things. That's why Brian Fritton, CEO and co-founder of startup-focused SaaS firm AyeAye.io, makes time to listen to his team members' ideas -- however out of the box -- and gives them a chance to take off.

"We'll be revealing the areas we want to experiment the most heavily in. This is an exciting meeting, since everyone has ideas of what we should be doing, and we've built a process where all reasonable experiments get to run," Fritton says. "We set the priority of each experiment, such as a new feature or marketing campaign, and all levels get excited to see what types of experiments they can propose."

Published on: Jan 29, 2018