An overarching 3-5 year strategic plan for your small business, although essential for business growth, can be cumbersome. As entrepreneurs performing in a “distraction economy”, it’s easy to lose focus of what needs to be accomplished “now” to reach the strategic milestones of the long-range strategic plan. That’s why small business planning conducted quarterly is essential to keep you focused and on track.
Small business planning conducted quarterly accomplishes two critical objectives for small business entrepreneurs:
- it establishes focus for the upcoming three months, and
- gives you the opportunity to realign or readjust your planning practices.
Without routine check-ins and check-ups on your progress, good business planning habits quickly spiral out of control.
Are you ready to focus your efforts? Here are the 7 fundamental steps to small business planning conducted quarterly:
1. Allocate sufficient time. Given the vision range of 3 months, you want to allow adequate time to analyze and plan for your next steps. Although the time needed for the business planning process varies from business to business, it’s common to assign 6-8 hours for proper review and planning. This can be accomplished during one sitting or by scheduling an hour each morning. Some small business owners find it helpful to get away from their regular work environment for business planning conducted quarterly for uninterrupted strategic thinking.
2. Evaluate results from previous quarter. To avoid repeating strategic errors, conduct an audit of your previous quarter goals and results. This provides insight into what’s working and what’s not working. If you don’t know your metrics, you can’t grow them.
3. Refine tactics. Based on your breakdown of the previous quarter results, hone procedures or approaches to generate greater productivity and results over the next 3 months.
4. Identify personal and business commitments. To achieve balance between your personal and business life, evaluate both personal and professional commitments for the upcoming quarter. This provides a template for ongoing business planning that occurs monthly & weekly.
I add “projected hours” to each commitment. It may sound over the top but it gives me a clear sense of what can realistically be achieved given the time available to meet my commitments.
5. Evaluate, refine, and upgrade commitments. Small business planning conducted quarterly provides an opportunity to audit ongoing commitments. Are there obligations that need to be renegotiated to free your time for more productive, goal-achievement work?
For instance, a regularly attended networking event does not produce what you intend. The quarterly business planning process is your opportunity to decide if you’ll continue to attend the event using refined tactics to improve results or to cancel completely.
To those entrepreneurs that shrink from what seems a radical idea as “canceling” a regular scheduled networking event under the premise of “what if”, let me say that when we are not selective and strategic about our time, energy, and money commitments, our business stagnates.
6. Identify and allocate resources. With a clear understanding of your goals and promises for the upcoming quarter, ascertain the time, money, people, and knowledge, including new information or skills needed, to fulfill your commitments.
7. Set approximate time frames. Determine the estimated time frame for launching the initiatives identified for achievement during the next three months. Be sure to enter them into your calendar so they don’t get lost in the flurry of day-to-day business. You will refer to them when conducting monthly business planning.
Although it’s challenging to do what’s best rather than what’s convenient or comfortable, the resources required to get you back on course once you’ve lost your focus are far greater. The strategy of small business planning conducted quarterly is critical for your business growth. It keeps you focused and on track.
Are you ready to get a jump start on your quarterly planning? Schedule your complimentary strategy consultation today! The first 30 minutes is on us!
BTW, if you’ve not yet completed a strategic plan for your business and need a place to start, download our free 46 page workbook, The Solopreneurs Guide to Strategic Planning, here.