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Ah, it’s that time again. A new quarter is beginning and if you’re a planning addict like me, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. I’ve always loved planning and making goals, but this quarter was the first time I felt truly accomplished in my quarterly planning. A huge reason was because I finally made my own quarterly calendar (you can order a digital copy here!). Another reason was because I set aside the whole day to get it done; leaving more time for brainstorming, organization, and reflection.
So although this wasn’t my first time quarterly planning, this was definitely the most successful. So here I am spilling the tea on my quarterly planning process for all you creatives out there.
This can be an easy step to miss, skip, or brush over. However, learning from the past is a key component to your success in the future.
Take a look at what goals you accomplished. For each goal, write down the 3 specific habits and/or opportunities that helped you achieve them.
Do the same for the goals you haven’t accomplished quite yet – what roadblocks did you run into? What habits might you need to develop? Write these down. Being intentional about this will help you identify the things you want to keep doing and avoid the things you need to stop doing.
Yes, I recommend an actual, physical calendar. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all about digital. In fact, my regular planning routines use a combination of both physical and digital planning. So why physical, you ask?
First, writing out your goals helps you process, retain, and remember them. According to this study, students who took longhand notes performed better and understood the material better than those taking notes on a laptop. Now obviously you’re not going to be graded on your planning. But when it comes to business goals, any competitive edge can affect your bottom line. That’s why whenever I have a planning session – whether it’s quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily, I do the planning physically first, and transfer the important points over to my digital iCal.
Second, studies show there is a connection between writing and idea generation. This means that while writing out your plans, your goals, your dreams, etc, you’re priming your brain to be more creative and innovative. I’d like a dose of that, please!
Looking for a physical calendar? Check out the exact calendar I use here. I printed the file at a local print shop, put it in this frame from Target, and use these wet-erase pens to plan. I’m loving the setup so far!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t live to work – I work to live. So family always comes first. Before I make plans for my business, I take into account what we have going on as a family. This includes any travel plans, family events like weddings, birthdays, things the kids have going on, etc.
After I’ve taken a look at what the quarter looks like personally, I can make a more informed and realistic plan for my business goals.
Personal events will have a different effect on your business depending on what stage you’re in – if you’re a solopreneur, they’ll have a greater weight on how your plan, while if you have a team, those personal events might take you out of the office temporarily, but the business will still be able to run regardless. Take this into consideration as you’re quarterly planning.
This is also where you’ll set important key dates for your business. Are you planning to launch a new course, a new product, or a new website? Put these dates on the calendar so you can plan for them and set goals to achieve them.
You can also set your revenue goal benchmarks here. (more on revenue goals later!)
In step one, you identified where you are right now. Now it’s time to identify your destination, where you want to end up. After all, if we want to create a roadmap, we need to know where we are and where we’re going, right?
Identify where you want to be at the end of the quarter. It may be a black and white goal, like how much you want to make in the quarter, or it might be a little more abstract like “I want to feel more confident in my craft.”
Whatever your goals are, identify the steps you need to take to get there.
After identifying your goals, choose 1-3 to focus on. For example, my overarching goal this quarter is to connect more with potential client and build a Katie & Co. community. I split this goal into 3 sections, one for each month. These are called the “monthly focus”. For the first month of the quarter, I’m revisiting and revising my marketing plan. For the second month, I’m perfecting my client experience, and for the third month, I’m focusing on serving and growing my email list. Decide what goals you have, how intensely you want to focus on each, and how long you’d like to focus on each. Then assign each month a monthly focus.
Once you have a monthly focus, you’ll break that down even further into the top 3 things you need to accomplish that month that will help you achieve your monthly focus, and therefore help you achieve your quarterly goal(s). Here’s an example:
Build a brand community
Create consistent marketing habits
While I focus on my growth goals, I always have my revenue goal planned out as well. I have my yearly revenue goal and I break that down into quarterly and monthly benchmarks. However, at least for me, all months are not the same. I account for busy and slow seasons, as well as personal things I have going on.
For example, if I know I’m going on maternity leave, my revenue goals for those months might be lower than a normal month. Same thing if I have a few trips planned during a particular month.
These goals are fluid. As benchmarks are hit (or not), I modify the future quarterly and monthly benchmarks to reflect that.
I also like to have a few levels of revenue goals. I learned from Kat Schmoyer to have a good, better, and best goal. Your good goal is one that you know you can hit – perhaps your breakeven. Your better goal is a profit goal, taking into account how much you want to make for the year. And your best goal is your top-performing goal or your stretch goal. Shoot for the moon, land among the stars, right?
Now it’s time to plan! Here’s a quick recap:
Although I’m far from perfect when it comes to quarterly planning, this system has been my favorite so far. Do you plan quarterly? What does your process look like? Leave any tips and tricks you have below!
Have questions? Shoot me an email!
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