Your Business

Why You Should Consider Quarterly Planning for Your Small Business

By Rieva Lesonsky

Have you considered quarterly planning? As a small business owner, you probably often scramble to complete your daily duties while simultaneously putting out fires and making quick decisions about everything from how much inventory to order to whether to try cash flow lending. When life is so hectic, it can be hard to keep your eye on the prize. Quarterly planning can help you get a grip and ensure that you make progress towards your long-term business goals.

Why do quarterly planning?

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you create some type of annual plan each year, setting goals for your business in terms of sales, growth, and more. But when your goals are a whole year away, it’s easy to postpone taking the steps you need to reach them. Next thing you know, a year has gone by, and you’re no closer to your goals.

By forcing you to act within a shorter timeframe, a quarterly plan keeps you on track for success. It also helps you better manage your day-to-day business issues such as developing employees, generating leads, and managing cash flow. Finally, it helps you identify problems so you can more easily find solutions such as using cash flow lending to get over a projected sales slump or cash flow shortage.

How to do quarterly planning

Start by taking out the most recent update of your business plan or your annual strategic plan. Working back from the year-end goals you set in that plan, list the facets of those goals you want to focus on for the next quarter. For instance, if your year-end goal is to increase sales by 20 percent, one focus area for the next quarter might be identifying potential new accounts. Limit your focus areas to two or three per quarter for best results.

Once you’ve identified your areas of focus, quantify what success looks like for each. For instance, if you want to land 15 new accounts, you might need to identify 150 prospects to make that happen.

Next, break down the actions you’ll need to take to succeed with each focus item. You should have several action items for each. Assign someone to take ownership of each action item and be responsible for accomplishing it. Finally, set a target completion date for each action item.

New hires, cash flow lending, and more

Once your quarterly plan is complete, you and your employees should meet weekly to review progress. During the weekly meeting, adjust action items, deadlines, and resources allocated to each action item as needed. Of course, your quarterly plan goals won’t be the only things on your plates, but meeting regularly will ensure that some progress occurs each week.

At the end of the quarter, review your overall results and use that information to plan more effectively for the coming quarter. The end of the quarter is also a good time to review your business financials with your bookkeeper or accountant. He or she can help you identify accounts receivable trends, create cash flow projections, and develop benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business.

Use this information and the goals you set in your quarterly plan to decide if you need (and can afford) to hire employees, expand to new locations, or change your sales strategy. If it looks like a cash shortfall is in your future or if your plans for the next quarter will require additional capital, you can prepare by exploring possible solutions such as cash flow lending. For instance, Fundbox is an easy-to-use cash flow financing option with free signup. Fundbox enables you to advance invoices and unlock cash flow sooner—without requiring a credit check, complicated paperwork, or a long wait for approval.

The more quarterly planning you do, the better you’ll get at it, and the more effective it will be for your business. Make quarterly planning part of your routine, and watch your business thrive.

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