The Ultimate Guide to Quarterly Planning for Your SMB

The end of a quarter is an opportune moment for your SMB to reflect on the past three months and prepare for the upcoming quarter. Effective quarterly planning involves more than just setting goals; it's about aligning your team, identifying key priorities, and ensuring everyone is on the same page. 

Drawing from years of experience working with SMBs, I've found a streamlined approach to quarterly planning that maximizes productivity and drives results.

Quarterly planning is anchored in having a clear roadmap for your business — if you haven't created a roadmap yet, don't worry, it’s not too late to start. I have a free template that can guide you through the process.

The Most Effective Quarterly Business Review:

Step 1: Connect With Your Team Around the Table

Before diving into the nitty-gritty, it's essential to foster an open and collaborative atmosphere.

  • Ask: What emotion is each person feeling? This will help you get a sense of what everyone is bringing to the session.
  • Ask: What do you need out of today?
  • Discuss: What has been working for you and what hasn’t?

Step 2: Review the Previous Quarter

Reflecting on the past is crucial for growth and improvement. Encourage your leadership team to assess the successes and shortcomings of the previous quarter.

  • Ask: Did we achieve our objectives this quarter? Objectives are 90-day projects you and your team set at the beginning of each quarter that help you achieve your overarching goals, called Bets. If you didn’t set objectives last quarter, this would be a good time to talk through where you succeeded this quarter and where you fell short.
  • Discuss: Is our team healthy? I use an acronym to help determine if team members are in the right position for their talents, interests, and experiences — F.I.T. (Fuel, Impact, Timely). This is a good time to review the Company Culture Checklist as a leadership team.
  • Ask: How did our efforts this quarter impact our 1-year, 3-year, and 10-year goals?

Step 3: Plan for the Upcoming Quarter

Looking ahead to the next quarter, it's time to set clear objectives and establish actionable plans.

  • Establish: Clear objectives for the upcoming quarter. Your objectives should push you to grow and remain realistic with the time, budget, and resources you will have this quarter.
    • Ensure your objectives align with your 1-year, 3-year, and 10-year goals.
    • Assign an owner responsible for each objective.
    • Break each objective down into tactical steps.
    • Set check-in milestones for 30-day and 60-day benchmarks.
  • Discuss: What are potential obstacles we may face this quarter?
  • Discuss: What are potential opportunities that we should take hold of this quarter? If your list of opportunities is long, decide your top three opportunities to pursue.

Step 4: Wrap Up

As the meeting draws to a close, take the time to:

  • Review: New action items and ensure they are clearly defined and assigned.
  • Rate: Encourage feedback from each team member on the effectiveness of the quarterly review session by ranking it 1-4.
  • Schedule: Your next quarterly refuel session for the end of the next quarter.

Why Are Quarterly Planning Sessions Effective?

Quarterly refuels should be an integral part of your business strategy, providing your leadership team a dedicated opportunity to step back and look at the bigger picture. Instead of getting bogged down in day-to-day tasks, you are focusing time to work ON your business, rather than IN your business.

I facilitate these sessions, called Quarterly Refuels, with my clients who are utilizing the System & Soul framework. During these sessions, my clients delve into the progress made towards strategic goals, identify any challenges or obstacles hindering their progress, and collaborate on innovative solutions for the future. By consistently engaging in these refuel sessions and making necessary adjustments along the way, my clients' businesses can stay agile, resilient, and positioned for long-term success.

Start Leading Purposeful and Powerful Quarterly Meetings

Don't let another quarter pass by without a clear plan in place. Download the free roadmap template and start leading purposeful and powerful quarterly meetings. With a clear vision and strategic approach, your SMB can achieve its goals and unlock its full potential.