The end of the third quarter is HERE, and, with it, the expeditious end of 2017. Whether you’re a fanatical quarterly reviewer, or you’ve haven’t yet done one for your business, now’s a good time to start. I highly recommend you lead a review of key goals and financial results at the end of every quarter.
Your quarterly review shouldn’t be a huge, burdensome process. In fact, the review process should be designed to be simple and energizing for everyone involved. It’s an opportunity to reconnect your team to your shared purpose, and make sure everyone is clear on the goals you are pursuing as a company.
Even though quarterly reviews are standard practice for all high performing companies, they remain a mystery to many smaller companies and entrepreneurs who’ve never worked within the financials of a corporate setting.
So I’m going to break it down for you, real easy.
A quarterly review involves three steps or stages: Preparation. Q&A. Commitment.
- Pull out your key goals and objectives from the beginning of the year and/or the beginning of the quarter. Use this helpful PDF as a guide.
- If you keep a dashboard of key operational measures; make sure it is complete and up to date through the end of the quarter. If you don’t have a dashboard take the time to collect a few data points from the past quarter and from January to September.
- Ask everyone on your team to look at the key goals and objectives for the quarter that relate to their work and report in on progress from their unique perspective in the business
- Print a monthly Profit and Loss statement from January – September 2017, then add your budget in the next column so you can compare your actual revenue and expenses to your projections.
- Create a balance sheet from September 30th, 2017
TWO: FOCUS A TEAM CONVERSATION AROUND10 QUESTIONS
This team meeting can be focused and expedient. In 10 questions, you will be able to cover every element of your business that needs your attention for the upcoming quarter.
- What was your company’s biggest win this quarter?
- What is your biggest opportunity for improvement in the coming quarter?
- How close is your actual revenue to your projected revenue? Did you over-perform? (CELEBRATE) Did you hit your target? (CELEBRATE) Did you fall significantly short of your goal? (Ok, still CELEBRATE! As long as you are in business, there’s something to celebrate!)
- How are your costs running? At a summary level are you spending more, less or on target for each major cost area: Costs of Goods Sold. Advertising & Sales. Personnel & General Operating Expenses.
- How is your cash position? Do you have the funds you need to press hard, or are you still juggling bills and leaking cash? Are you up to date with bills, credit cards and loan payments?
- What does your sales pipeline look like for Q3 and Q4? Where are your best opportunities to do better?
- How is your team doing? Does everyone understand their role and the importance of what they do? Does each team member have the resources and support they need?
- What roadblocks or obstacles can be eliminated to make each team/team member more productive and focused?
- What systems could be created or implemented to make the work more efficient?
- What other work can be postponed, delegated, or outsourced so that you and your team
can focus on the core goals and highest value work?
No matter what the previous quarter was like, commit to your next quarter as though it is all achievable (because it is). Walk into your next quarter with unwavering commitment.
- What are the top three must have, must do goals for next quarter? Decide with your team on your top priorities for this next quarter.
- Create 3 to 5 high level objectives** for each goal. Make objectives specific, measurable, and visible. **Goals state what you want to accomplish; objectives detail progress points or methods for achieving your goals.
- Make it fun! Create a plan to celebrate successes along the way to keep you and your team focused and engaged.
- Identify systems, processes or procedures that can make it easier for team members to actually implement the work.
If you are using Profit First to drive increase in profitability; this is also the time to review and update your allocation percentages and possibly increase reserves for profit, owners pay or tax payments while decreasing allocations for operating expenses. [Consult with me, a certified Profit First Professional, to learn more!]
Hot Tip for beginners: if you don’t have clear goals and objectives for this year or quarter, start NOW by defining a few (3 or less) goals for October-December. Make them very specific and measureable; then figure out how you’re going to track progress towards those goals. Make the information visible (posterboard, whiteboard, shared document online) and update it regularly. Then you’ll be ready to build your annual goals (and conduct a quarterly review) in January with a few months of real information.