“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” George S. Patton
If you have any aspirations of being successful in business, then being in the habit of planning the next quarter is a must. Like many, I didn’t know much about business, entrepreneurship, let alone quarterly planning. I simply had a dream for a vision and brought it to life through grit, determination and a lot of luck. After launch and the initial excitement wore off, the reality set in; motivation and willpower would only go so far. After over a year of going non stop with burnout on the horizon, I realized that I needed to be more strategic about focusing time, effort, and resources to the parts of the business that made the most sense. I also realized I needed a business coach.
The biggest help my business coach provided was clarity on how to approach entrepreneurship, mainly how to create and execute a quarterly plan. It might seem overwhelming at first but quarterly planning comes down to three things.
- Have a clear vision of where your organization should be in the next 90 days
- Create actionable steps
- Track your progress
While there are many methodologies on execution and strategy, my personal favorites include The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey, Traction by Gino Wickman, and The 12-Week Year. Each has different methodologies, but they are all focused on similar outcomes (and you know I cannot pass up an opportunity to plug a book recommendation in).
Set a Clear Vision
Pick two to three goals you want to accomplish over the next 90 days. If you’re an early stage small business or start up, your primary focus should be on generating revenue. Cash is the life of blood of early stage ventures, and in order to achieve lift, you need money in the bank. In addition to revenue, it is recommended to also think about where you want operations or marketing to be in the future.
Create Actionable Steps
The next thing to think about are the steps that allow you to accomplish your goal(s). Creating goals without thinking through how to get to those goals can be daunting and the best way to not feel too overwhelmed is to identify actionable steps (lead measures) that will drive desired results.
For example, if a goal is to generate $50k in revenue by the end of the quarter, lead measures might look like this:
- Publishing 15 pieces of marketing content over the next 3 months.
- Attend 8 networking events with my target demographic
- Submit at least 20 proposals by the end of the quarter.
The key to creating successful steps or lead measures is focusing on the task and outcomes you have control over. There is no guarantee you can generate desired revenue by the end of the quarter, but you can guarantee, by executing the steps, that you put yourself in the best position possible to achieve the desired outcome.
Tracking is the simplest part of the process. Whatever lead measures you commit to, track it. Create a spreadsheet and everytime you publish a piece of content or reach out to a cold lead or send a nurture email, update the sheet. Rather than get overwhelmed by your end goal, focus on measuring your progress week over week, and you know when you’re ahead or behind your goal.
Get to work
What separates those who excel from those who don’t, is the ability to execute. As John Doerr, author of Measure What Matters states, “Ideas are easy, execution is everything.” A great place to start executing is with quarterly planning. For more information about quarterly planning, check out the books listed above and listen to Episode 11 of our podcast, The Transition with guest, Joshua Pomeroy, CEO of Interim2. He discusses quarterly planning in depth.
The Transition Podcast: Content on the Go
We know as entrepreneurs time is always in high demand and short supply. At Bunker Labs we strive to create content that veteran entrepreneurs, military-connect entrepreneurs and military spouse entrepreneurs can consume on the go. Listen to our podcast, The Transition, brought to you by Metlife Foundation. The podcast demystifies entrepreneur experience for veterans and military spouses, by cultivating an environment of peer-to-peer learning.
We interview veteran entrepreneurs in different industries, to share their stories and lessons learned, and give words of encouragement to the veteran entrepreneur community.