Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit

How to Implement Quarterly Planning

April 05, 2022 Sasha - Business Strategist Season 1 Episode 24
Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit
How to Implement Quarterly Planning
Show Notes Transcript

Monthly goal setting doesn't work for everyone. If you're trying to make goal planning work for you, try quarterly goal planning. Quarterly planning is a strategic approach to planning key performance indicators (KPIs), objectives, and key results. Quarterly planning is a way to break annual planning into smaller parts which can make it easier to set goals, establish metrics, and review the previous quarter’s achievements and points of growth. 

Episode Transcript  

Episode Resources:
How to Implement Quarterly Goals
Mind Map Journal for Business

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Welcome to Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. Whether you're new in business or find yourself in a season of change, get ready to build a strategy, create an action plan and crush those goals. I'm Sasha, host a strategy for creatives. And I help female led businesses grow their brands in authentic, measurable and meaningful ways, without the stress. There's no sugar coated here, I'm serving up real tips and actionable steps you can take to help get you organized, get off the path to burnout and grow your brand like a boss. So go ahead, pull up a chair, grab a notepad, and let's talk business. Welcome to another episode of sStrategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. I, of course, am your host Sasha and it is a new month, which means we are diving into a whole host of new topics. And typically I do try to have themes around what I'm going to talk about every month. But I'll be honest with you guys, I haven't had the time to sit and plan because... life. Life happens to the best of us. And so I have a rough idea of what I want to talk about for April. But I do know that this episode, we will be diving into goal setting. And I previously talked about goal setting on a couple of other episodes. But specifically today I wanted to talk about quarterly goal setting. I know that a lot of times, planning goals or trying to do monthly goals can be a lot of work. In fact, I work with a couple of creatives that it just does not work for them to do monthly goal setting. They can't wrap their head around it, it doesn't work for their business, it just doesn't work for their style. And what they have found works for them is quarterly goal planning. And so I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into that. If you are the type of person who gets stressed out every month, trying to figure out what you want to achieve, but then a year seems too long, and that's you know, too big picture for you. I wanted to kind of talk about quarterly planning, and how that may be a better option for you. So if you don't know what quarterly planning is, it's a strategic approach to planning your KPIs aka key performance indicators, objectives, and key results for your business. It's a way to break down your annual planning into smaller parts, or take your monthly planning and break it into bigger parts. And essentially, you look at your goals four times a year, and you set them, establish a metrics, you review, that's always the important one, you're going to review the previous quarters achievements, and then figure out ways in which you can grow. So most businesses do quarterly planning, there's four quarters in a year. January, February, March is quarter one. April, May, June is quarter two. July, August, September, of course, is quarter three. And then October, November and December is the fourth quarter. Because it's the beginning of April, we are right at the beginning of quarter two. And so if you're looking to do quarterly planning, it is the perfect time to do it. So why do businesses decide to do quarterly planning? If you are a fan of efficiency if you want to keep yourself and if you have a team on their way to hitting your goals, quarterly planning can help with that. It's an easier way to track those long term yearly goals that we have for our business over a shorter period of time. And on the flip side, if you find that monthly planning makes you apprehensive or anxious, because it's not enough time, it can give you that longer time to help you achieve those goals. So it can help you take goals, put them into a shorter time frame or a longer timeframe and have regular check ins. That way you can see how you're doing and adjust as necessary. So of course, goals are always going to be easier to track over a shorter period of time versus a longer period of time. That's why a lot of times when we do New Year's resolutions or if we're setting yearly goals, we tend to falter within that first quarter. January February, we might hit the ground running by the time April comes around, we've probably lost our way. When you're doing quarterly goal setting or quarterly planning, it has the structure of planning out like New Year's resolutions or goals for your business. But you can see results quicker, and it can help you break down what you want to accomplish over the next three months versus over the next year. So it's just an easier way to kind of go back look at your wins, look at your losses, break down and evaluate what's working, revising what's not working, and kind of do goal setting that way. So of course there is a difference between quarterly goal setting and annual goal setting. So if you accordingly planning if you decide you want to go this route, you want to focus on goal setting or goals that are three month time periods. Oftentimes it aligns with the seasons so it does help you especially if you are in a product based business, it can help you line up seasonal things with your goals. And so that's one way to do it. Annual planning, of course, it's going to look at goal setting, over 12 month time period. You're doing it one time a year, your offer often focusing on longer term goals that are meant to be achieved over a long period of time, versus things that you want to keep your business moving. So when you are thinking about planning your goals quarterly, there are a couple of things that I want you to do, that are going to set you up for the best way in order to achieve your goals on a quarterly basis. So your action item for this episode is to essentially I'm going to talk about six things that I want you to think about including a quarterly plan, if you're going to do quarterly goal setting. This is going to help you achieve those goals and help you look at what's working, what's not working and help push your business further. I do this on a monthly basis, because it works easier for me., I have to be able to see what I want to achieve every month. And it feeds... I kind of work it that way backwards. So I feed you know, my month to month into a quarter into the year. Quarterly planning kind of does the opposite, it takes your yearly goals splits it out into four quarters. And then if you want to take it a step further, you can, but typically, most people will just stop at a quarter. So when it comes to the things that you need to put into your quarterly goal setting, I want you to take a day or two, maybe even a couple of days before the next quarter; I know at the beginning of April, it's not too late, don't worry about it, you can still do a quarterly plan. But the first thing that you need to do is a thorough review of what happened the previous quarter. So that means for April, if you're going to start planning for quarter two, you need to take a look back at January, February, March. You need to look at what worked, what didn't work, and why things worked or didn't work. When you're taking a look back, if something was working really well for you. You want to dive deeper into what strategies were effective, what worked and why it was working. So that way you can use that information into the next quarter and continue that momentum. You can also find which goals you didn't achieve for that quarter, look at why they weren't achieved and whether or not it makes sense to incorporate them into your next quarterly plan. I always talk about goal setting that not every goal needs to get moved from month to month. And it's the same thing when you're doing quarterly setting goal setting as well. Just because we have a vision or a plan for our business for the first three months of the year, the second three months, doesn't necessarily mean that it needs to flow into the next quarter if our business is shifting, if it's changing, it might not make sense to continue to keep those things just as a to-do when our business might be going into another direction. And that's why looking back at what worked and what didn't work can help you figure out what you need to include in your next goals for the next quarter. That goes into the second point. You want to pick key focus areas for your upcoming quarter. You need to establish what's the most important areas for you to focus and your business because that's going to help you break down what you want to achieve. I really think that when it comes to picking a key focus area, that you need to narrow it down and be specific. A lot of times we think of course, every part of our business is important. So everything should be a goal in it. But really, that's not true. I always say, and I do the same thing with my monthly goal setting, you really don't want to focus on any more than two to three goals at a specific time. So for example, if you are coming out with a new service, and you're launching something that is a goal in and of itself. Or maybe you just want to focus on the marketing aspects of your business, maybe you want to focus specifically on social media for your business. Or maybe it's time to get the back end of your business, like standard operating procedures or bringing on team members. You want to pick focus areas like that, because that's going to help you figure out what you need to focus on. And especially if you have a team, it'll help you figure out where your team members need to be in order to achieve those goals. The next thing I want you to think about are the risks and opportunities of what you are planning or the goals that you are trying to set. A lot of times we only think about the opportunities that are presented to us. And of course, we always want to be positive. We anticipate achieving a lot of our goals. But I want you to also think about the risks that come along with your goals, right? Not everything is easily achievable. So sometimes you need to look at your goals and think about where roadblocks might be. What are something that can stop you from achieving your goal. And do you have a way around that? So for example, if you know that you want to get more people into your Facebook group over the next three months, what are the roadblocks that are going to stop that? Of course we can do everything in our power to say that yeah, I'm going to tell my Facebook group everywhere. I'm going to, you know, put links everywhere. I'm going to include it in my email marketing. But what are roadblocks that can stop people from coming into your Facebook group? Are you asking too many questions for them to enter your Facebook group? Is it even visible? Can people find your Facebook group? So you want to think of things like that that are going to make hitting your goals a little bit more difficult. And start that problem solving while you're doing your goal planning. It can help you understand, on the back end, why goals haven't been achieved, or why some goals are harder for you to achieve if you are doing some of that front end work and just looking at where the risk and the opportunities are. The next item is specifically for if you have people on your team, or if you have contractors, or if it's more than just you. When you are getting to your quarterly planning and you have team members, you need to be thinking about and including your team in that goal setting. A lot of times especially in corporations, and I'm not saying that you have to do this as a small business or as an entrepreneur, but in corporations, this tends to happen a lot. They will have quarterly goal setting meetings, every team member is going to take on a specific aspect of that. But if it's just you and you have contractors and you are outsourcing things in your business, you want to make sure that you're including those people in your goals. So if you have a goal, for example, to book more corporate clients, make sure that you're letting your team members know that that's what the avenue that you're trying to take. So that way, if they refer you, they know which direction your business is trying to go in, and they're not going to refer you to those small business or those, you know, entrepreneurs, they're going to seek out more corporate clients. So you want to include your team members, in your goals, in your goals in your goal planning process, because it can help you. I also think that when you share your goal strategy with people who work with you, that they can give you ideas that you might not be thinking about that can help you push your goals forward. And so really that like collaborative thinking, even if it's people, like I said, you don't have to have actual employees, even if it's just people who contract and help in your business, tell them what your goals are ask them for ideas, because they could help you think of things that are going to help you push those goals forward. You might also want to think about having something called stretch goals. Ninety days, three months of a year isn't a long period of time to get a lot of stuff done. But a stretch goal doesn't have to be a different goal. For example, it could be something that just pushes your goal higher. So if one of your goals is to grow your email list during the next quarter, make sure that you're putting a number to that. I've talked about SMART goals before, but make sure that you are having a measurable number to that. So let's say over the next quarter, you want to grow your email list by 150 subscribers. That's a doable number to you. It's realistic, it makes sense. A stretch goal to that would be you want to grow it by 200 members or 300 members. That helps you be a little bit more ambitious. And so while it's easy in your mind, it might be doable to do that 150 and you're going to work towards that. And you know that if you hit that 150, you've met that goal. But having stretch goals can entice you to be a little bit more proactive, to be a little bit aggressive and your goals, and it's just a kind of a motivator to help kind of push our goals forward. You don't always have to have stretch goals. I don't want you to make stretch goals if you find yourself being anxious, and feeling like that is the actual goal versus the goal that you set. Stretch goals aren't always meant to be hit. Stretch goals are what we are stretching for. We're reaching for them. We might not be able to get them. And so if you feel like that's too much pressure for you don't do a stretch goal. But if you feel like having stretch goals for some of your goals can actually help motivate you to push yourself a little further or motivate your team, then I highly suggest having at least one stretch goal to just kind of see what you can do if you're given that motivation. You also lastly want to think about and look at what your clients and customers have said about your business and how they feel about your business over the last quarter. This goes with that review at the beginning. But you want to take some time and take some of your energy and look at your customer experience. Look at your client experience and whether it is successful. Are you getting referrals? Are you seeing repeat clients? Those are the things that actually determine whether or not a business is actually growing. Of course customers and clients is what spending money on our business. So part of our goal setting and part of our goal planning should always be looking at our client experience. I have an episode where I talked about how to walk people through your funnels in my Beyonce Social Media Series. So you can go listen to that episodes to listen to how funnels actually work. But think about your client experience, think about how clients and customers are going and working through your business. Is it all running smoothly? Because if it's not or, or if they're areas for improvement, that can be something that you can think about putting in your goals for the next quarter. So again, if you are the type of creative, who finds that trying to figure out goals every month, or having goals for the year, and not being able to break them down doesn't make sense for your business. I highly, highly encourage you to think about quarterly goal setting, one of my favorite clients tried to do monthly goal setting and it was a disaster for her. When she moved back to quarterly goal setting, it really helped her actually focus in on what she was trying to achieve. And she saw her business grow so much. One of the good things about being our own business owners is that we don't have to do everything, the way that others are doing it. And so if you work differently, find a method that works for you. For me, like I said, I prefer to look at my goals every month, and then feed that into my quarterly goals and feed that into what my yearly goals are. But that doesn't mean that that's the way that everyone has to do it. It's what works for me. If you find yourself being stressed out, and that you feel like you have a lot li wanna accomplish in the month isn't long enough, or feel like you have these big ambitious goals every year, but you're not finding a way to achieve them in a way that makes sense for you try quarterly planning. Sit down the last couple of days of a month of the quarter, and figure out where you want your business to be in the next 90 days. That's going to help you break down your SMART goals into how you can actually achieve those things. And it just, it gives you a little bit longer time to process what you want to achieve and kind of look and see how you can grow and get better in your business. Quarterly planning I know isn't for everyone. It doesn't work for me. But that doesn't mean that it can't work for you. So hopefully, with the six things that I talked about in this episode, if you are going to implement quarterly planning, you'll find a way that works for you and will help push your business forward. Are you ready to uplevel your business? Join the five day be your own CEO challenge. All the details are available on the website at If you liked what you heard, make sure you rate and review. It really helps other people find the show. And of course, following subscribe on your favorite podcast platforms. Want to follow me on social? I'm on Instagram and Facebook at Strategy By Sasha. Make sure you tune in next Tuesday for more business tips.