3 Simple Steps to Creating a Quarterly Business Action Plan
Scaling A Company
Scaling a company the right way requires that you tailor your business strategy to help you meet your end goal while remaining flexible enough to learn and adjust your action plan as you go.
On one hand, you have to balance the need for flexibility – markets change, opportunities arise, and tactics fail. When it comes to business planning, any action plan that is too rigid fails because it will be difficult to morph and adapt as unique challenges arise.
On the other hand, your action plan must be concrete enough to build financial momentum, and allocate enough time for your staff to accomplish tasks and get meaningful work done. If you change your company’s focus too frequently, you risk losing momentum, interrupting your team’s workflow, and failing to attract potential investors.
The key to executing your business strategy and accomplishing your revenue goals lies in the quarter.
The quarter is the perfect unit of time to bridge your big-picture goals, which likely have a longer timeline, and your short-term, day-to-day actions. A strategic plan should be more specific, so it is more achievable.
What is Quarterly Planning?
Quarterly planning helps determine the business goals for the upcoming quarter and essentially helps businesses reach their company objectives in a timely manner and map out other agendas, such as sales plan and sales goal. The quarterly planning is then reviewed in the quarterly planning meeting where limited, but essential attendees are present for the meeting.
At Maui Mastermind, we offer a 1-page quarterly business action plan template to create your company’s quarterly action plan.
First, though, you may ask, “Why is the business plan template only one page?”
It’s because we’ve learned from our work coaching hundreds of companies that you need to be able to quickly reference your strategic plan so you can easily keep it top of mind when making critical business decisions, such as when formulating a marketing plan, social media plan, sales action plan, startup business plan, or financial plan. If your business plan is several pages long, you simply won’t use it as often or as effectively.
We coach our clients to review their quarterly action plans as an accountability tool each week, to identify action items, top priorities, and ways to move forward.
Strategic action planning has helped our Business Coaching Clients enjoy an average annual growth rate 9-times higher than the average privately held company in the United States. Our proprietary one-page format gives you a brief, powerful visual tool to lay out what your 90-day sprint will look like each quarter.
Below is an example of our proprietary business action plan template looks like. Then I’ll share with you some insights to build the right plan for yourself.
Step One: Pick Your Top Three “Focus Areas” for the Quarter
Every quarter you’ll sit down and decide on what the top three focus areas for your business are for that quarter. These three focus areas create a roadmap that will help you map out your quarterly objective and help you get towards your overall goal for your business. You may decide that your focus is on streamlining your marketing strategy, improving your sales conversion system, speeding up your collections cycle, or making a specific key hire.
Your Focus Areas are the three most important areas for your business to spotlight during the coming quarter. Sure, you’ll still have to “take care of business,” dealing with your normal operational needs to push the business forward. Still, your Focus Areas will pinpoint where you will invest a portion of your best resources that quarter because you know that these areas are what will really help you scale and develop your business.
Why do we limit your company to three Focus Areas? Because too many top priorities can cause you to stray away from the intended long term goals that will ultimately drive the most growth for your business.
Step Two: Clarify the Criteria for Success for Each of Your Three Focus Areas
Now that you’ve picked your three Focus Areas for the quarter, it is time to clarify your criteria of success for each. What would you need to accomplish this quarter to feel successful in this Focus Area?
Be ruthlessly realistic about what is possible for you to accomplish in ninety days.
When it comes to strategic planning, it’s also essential to figure out how to measure success. While figuring out your quarterly objectives, we suggest you try to pick criteria of success that you have control over (or at the very least you over which have a great deal of influence.) It’s important to look for criteria that are as objectively and quantitatively measurable as possible. When criteria are too subjective, you may reach the end of the quarter without agreeing on whether or not you succeeded.
Also, we suggest that for every focus area you pick one “Key Performance Indicator” (KPI) to track. If you look to this KPI to determine your performance, you’ll know if your company is on track to succeed in this Focus Area.
Your written criteria of success for each Focus Area gives you a clear yardstick against which to measure progress as you go.
Plus, laying out your criteria of success for each Focus Area before you map out your action steps provides clear clues for what you’ll actually need to take over the quarter. Most of your action steps are evident in your criteria of success.
Step Three: Lay Out Your Key Action Steps and Milestones for This Quarter
Now is the time to lay out the key action steps and milestones you need to take or reach to accomplish your criteria of success for each Focus Area over the coming quarter.
To keep your quarterly plan to one page, you’ll likely break each Focus Area down into five to seven action steps and milestones.
While your plan must be detailed enough to guide your actions, it must not be so detailed that you feel overwhelmed or lose yourself in the minutia.
For each action step, pick a specific team member to be ultimately responsible for executing the step by a definite date. While you can have multiple people contribute to a specific step or steps, you need to pick one person tasked with the responsibility and authority to get that step done and done well. We say that this person “owns” the task. This sense of ownership is critical to your success. It’s hard to hold anyone accountable for missed milestones when it wasn’t clear who was really responsible in the first place.
With this structure, the owner doesn’t have to do all of the work herself – they just need to be responsible for making sure that it gets done in the best way possible within the company. After laying out your goals, action steps and milestones for the upcoming quarter, make sure to come prepared when presenting your quarterly objectives to your quarterly planning meeting.
I hope you found these ideas on creating your own one page company action plan helpful.
Good luck to you in growing your company.