First Quarter is almost a memory. Are you set up to accomplish your goals for 2023? The adage goes “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Take a moment and give your goals some attention. You know as Q2 progresses you will get busy with summer fun with kids home from school. Q3 you will likely be in the midst of making a million decisions to prepare for Q4. This may be the last time you get a few hours to really focus on the outcome you want for the year. Let’s spend an hour setting you up for success.
I have found three main benefits to planning each quarter. First, it’s just the right amount of time. We can remember what happened in the past season and we can see clearly the three months in front of us. While the past is somewhat fresh, it’s a good time to look back to celebrate wins and take stock of lessons learned.
Celebrating your wins is important and you can enhance that celebration with your profit distribution that Profit First allows for each quarter. Next, quarterly planning facilitates the frequent adjustments required in an ever-changing business environment. Finally, you want a structured process for your analysis so you don’t reinvent the wheel each month and it can also serve as a communication tool for your team. Afterall, the goal is to develop a plan and execute it; not research and develop a process for creating a plan that never leaves your desktop.
This is my three-step process to ensure I’m focusing on the right priorities.
Let’s start with the vision process which begins by looking in the rear-view mirror. Take a minute to write down these things:
- List 5 biggest victories for last quarter
- List 3 lessons learned during last quarter
After the look back, take stock of today with these thinking points:
- Write your deepest drives to grow the business
- Note your current starting point; consider quantitative metrics (size of the team, revenue, profits, etc), qualitative (eg brand, team roles), your role in the business
Now we look to the future and decide on a date, one to 3 years in the future, and describe the business you are building. Again, consider quantitative metrics (size of team, revenue, profits, etc), qualitative (eg brand, team roles), your role in the business.
Once you complete the Visioning step, it’s time to Analyze.
Analysis is the best way to help your business move forward and prepare for things that could keep that from happening. A great tool for doing this is the SWOT Analysis. Since you’re in business, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of this tool and might have even used it before. If not, here’s what to do.
S –Strengths (internal) write down your top 5 strengths in your business
W – Weaknesses (internal) write down 5 weaknesses you see in your business
O – Opportunities (external) write down 5 opportunities you could take advantage of
T – Threats (external) write down 5 threats to your business
After you’ve completed your analysis, focus on capitalizing on your strengths and put your resources towards your greatest opportunities. Then evaluate your greatest threats and ensure that you consider those in the next stage of analysis.
Next, you’ll want to list the top 2 factors that are limiting your growth. These can be things like lead generation or conversion, production/fulfilment, leadership challenges, financial constraints, or team dynamics or hiring. Make sure you focus on what needs to be done based on your analysis rather than what you want to be done. Once you have your 2 major limiting factors, brainstorm at least 10 ways to overcome each limitation.
Think about each method and determine if it is Low Hanging Fruit (LH) or a Home Run (HR). Low Hanging Fruit are easily accomplished and creates a big difference. Home Runs will have the greatest impact once achieved. If a method is both LH and HR, highlight it.
Now it’s time to start Planning.
Planning is the best way to keep yourself on track and not overwhelmed. Here’s what works best for me.
Pick 3 Areas of Focus for the quarter. This comes from your analysis and will likely be either a low hanging fruit or a home run. If you have an idea that is both, it goes to the top of your list
List 3-5 criteria of success for each focus area. How will you know you are done and completed to your specifications? Taking a few minutes to complete the expectations for your outcome will push you or your team in the right direction when executing.
List 3-10 action steps for each area and identify who and the date they will be completed by.
Then make a vow to stick to the plan, and schedule the tasks on your calendar each week just like you would an appointment. Then you’re ensured time to move the plan along. I often consider the end result and then reverse engineer the steps week by week so that I’m confident I can meet my goal. Remember in three short months, you want to see your results so you can count this as a win in next quarter’s planning.
If planning is something you need help with, whether it’s financial or just business planning, bookskeep would love to help you. I love to share my strategies and tools I find that can help us and our businesses grow, so reach out to the bookskeep team today.
Interested in Profit First?
If your ecommerce business isn’t where you’d like it to be in terms of profitability, check out my book, Profit First for Ecommerce Sellers. It answers important questions about how to implement Profit First in an ecommerce business. Take control of your money and your business, and put Profit First to work for you!
You can also sign up for the Profit First for Ecommerce Sellers Online Course. As a Mastery Level, Certified Profit First Professional, I will teach you why Profit First works so well for ecommerce businesses and the particular challenges for businesses that have physical products requiring inventory management. You will learn how your behavior drives your money management habits for your business and how you can set up your business bank accounts to work with your habits.
Check out all our ecommerce accounting and profit advising services here!
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