It’s hard to believe we’re stepping into the fourth quarter of 2020 this week! As crazy as 2020 has been, I’m tentatively walking into the final 3 months… anyone else?!
Even though this year has been unprecedented in many ways, having a plan (however loose) will keep you on track as you close out the year on (hopefully) a high note.
I’m a firm believer in quarterly planning all year long. Why?
90 days is the perfect amount of time to work towards a goal.
“It’s long enough that you can get meaningful units of work done that collectively bring you closer to your long-term goals, but short enough so that you can frequently course correct and hold your focus.” Maui Mastermind
I’ve been actively quarterly goal setting since 2015 and today I want to break down my process when it comes to Q4 planning, specifically.
What to do first:
Carve out time to goal-plan.
Whether it’s an entire work day (what I do!) or a 3-4 hour block of time – schedule a day on your calendar to sit down & reflect, brainstorm & look at potential biz goals.
I have a New Ideas list on my My Week Trello Board and this list is the first one I turn to on Quarterly Goal Setting Days.
I take a look at those New Ideas and ask a few questions:
👉 Why do I want to do this? → do I really want to or do I feel like I *have* to? Does it feel like others in the industry are striving for this so I have to, too? Or does this truly align with my brand mission & values?
👉 Is this realistic right now? → think about constraints:
- time constraints: how big of a project is this? Will it take several quarters to complete? How much time do you have to dedicate to it?
- financial constraints: does it require a financial investment?
- educational constraints: do you know how to do it? What will it take for you to know how? What do you need to know to accomplish it?
👉 Does this align with a current revenue stream? → when I teach The Quarterly Cure inside Creative 24/7, I talk about how your Quarterly Goals need to first align with revenue. The goal should always be to run a profitable business, so looking at revenue FIRST is important! Start with goals for existing revenue streams before jumping to new ones.
👉Is this idea truly a Quarterly Goal or is it a part of a larger goal? → sometimes the ideas on this list or things I can accomplish in a few hours or 1 business day. I put them on the New Idea list because when I thought of it initially I was unsure and/or couldn’t commit. I wanted time to process & circle back to it. (Example: Live Quarterly Trainings in Creative 24/7 are on my New Idea List. That isn’t a quarterly goal – it’s just a new idea I wanted to implement into 24/7 but decided to sit on it & make sure I *really* like it before doing it!)
Next, it’s time to evaluate the physical quarter itself:
Q1 is drastically different from Q4, so we can’t goal-plan the same way!
As digital biz owners, we’re using social media to promote our services + products and social media can get NOISY. Look at the physical calendar to refresh yourself on what’s happening not just in your family unit but in the country / world.
2020 Q4 things to consider:
- Families are finding new fall rhythm with school / online learning
- 4 major holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years
- It’s an election year! (The internet will be noisier than ever end of Oct / early November.)
- COVID is still affecting in-person aspects of our lives, as well as our mental + physical health.
🎓 Pro Tip: Take out a piece of paper or open up a Google Doc and spend a few minutes writing out how your ideal client FEELS in Q4. What’s going on in HER life? Is she overwhelmed? Is she feeling rested? Is she ready to step into 2021? Understanding the impact the next few months are going to have on HER will allow you to set more strategic business goals as you think of serving + helping her in this season!
Now, you need to create a Quarterly Offer Focus.
What are you working towards? What main offer are you trying to sell?
Before you can lay out your quarterly goals, you need to know your main revenue focus! You’re building a business, not a hobby and in order to work towards big dreams your revenue needs to be sustainable.
I suggest having no more than 2 offers as your Quarterly Offer Focus. If you’re a wedding photographer it’s booking season for weddings, then you want to focus on booking your services! Maybe you also offer coaching so the second offer you’d like to focus on is selling your coaching packages.
Here’s an example of a Quarterly Offer Focus:
If a wedding photographer (let’s call her Phoebe) has 4 revenue streams: weddings, family sessions, coaching and a course then her Quarterly Focus may look like this for the year:
Q1: Wedding Photography + Course
Q2: Wedding Photography + Family Sessions
Q3: Wedding Photography + Coaching
Q4: Wedding Photography + Family Sessions
Wedding Photography is her MAIN source of income so Phoebe works hard all year long to focus on booking out that service. She then sprinkles in her other 3 offers throughout the quarters so ensure she hits revenue goals during those launch / sell periods.
(The list above does NOT mean she can’t book a Family Session in Q3 or book a coaching client in Q1!! It just means that her FOCUS is not those areas. She might still receive inquiries but she’s not ACTIVELY working towards booking out in those areas. Remember: we don’t want to confuse our audience by constantly selling ALL the things. We must be strategic with our Focus so that we can teach + serve + sell all year long.)
After you select your Quarterly Offer Focus, it’s time to Create a Quarterly Success Standard.
How will you know if the quarter went as planned? What is your measure of success?
A Success Standard allows you to create a clear standard for what worked & what didn’t.
Your Success Standard has three tiers – – –
Good / Better / Best
Typically, my Good / Better / Best is revenue driven based on the Focus.
Let’s go back to Phoebe and use her Q4 as an example – Her Q4 focus is Wedding Photography + Family Sessions. Because she is focusing on TWO offers, she’s going to create TWO success standards – one for each Focus.
Q4: Wedding Photography
- Good: book 3
- Better: book 5
- Best: book 8
Q4: Family Sessions
- Good: book 8
- Better: book 10
- Best; book 12
How do you come up with the standard?
Good should be bare minimum. What is the NEED? Usually my “good” is break-even.
Better is profit! What would you like to net? 10k? Then make Better 10k more than Good.
Best is shoot for the moon! It’s the big one that might not happen but it’s fun to put on paper.
Remember, you are using this to measure how well things go – – at the end of the quarter I want you to be able to look back and think: “Wow! I hit my Better number! Yay! Let’s celebrate and also analyze why I didn’t hit the Best standard.”
Now, let’s make a plan!
Before we do, let’s recap!
- You’ve spent some time reflecting on big goals / projects for the quarter.
- You’ve asked specific questions about the current quarter so you can strategically work WITH the calendar, not against it.
- You’ve determined your Offer Focus as well as your Success Standard – now you know what revenue is a must-have & can make goals that work WITH your revenue goals.
I break down my goals like this: Priority → Benchmark → Action Step.
I suggest 1-3 priorities for the quarter. Your priorities DIRECTLY relate to your FOCUS!
💥 Priority is the MAIN goal; it’s the large project that could potentially take several quarters to accomplish.
Examples of Quarterly Priorities:
- New Website
- Launch a Course
- Book 5 Wedding Clients
Each of these are big-picture projects that will require several weeks or months to accomplish. After determining the Quarterly Priority I then move on the Benchmarks:
🌟 Benchmarks are big picture tasks that relate specifically to the Priority. Example: If your Priority is a New Website then a Benchmark Goal could be to Hire a Designer.
✏ Action Steps are small, bite-sized to-do’s that relate specifically to the Benchmark Goal. They are things that can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 day to complete.
Let’s keep using Phoebe as an example. Her Q4 Offer Focus is Wedding Photography + Family Sessions. She decides that her Quarterly Goal is going to be a NEW WEBSITE because her new website will likely increase inquiries & help her book out!. It might not directly increase revenue now, but she feels secure with what’s coming in & wants to work on this big project now!
💥 Priority: New Website
🌟 Benchmark 1: Hire a Designer
✏ Action Steps: Research Designers / Select Favorite / Schedule a Consultation
🌟 Benchmark 2: Write New Copy
✏ Action Steps: Outline Website Pages that Need New Copy / Write About Page / Write Homepage / Write Services Page
🌟Benchmark 3: Select New Website Imagery
✏ Action Steps: Outline Website Pages that Need New Imagery / Organize Portfolio Work / Source Stock Imagery / Hire a Brand Photographer for New Headshots
I do not always flush out every action step at the beginning of the quarter. Usually, I write down my PRIORITY and my BENCHMARK GOALS and then the action steps come throughout the quarter as I am working towards the project. This is why some goals will take longer than 1 quarter to accomplish. As you begin working towards it, new action steps will come up. Depending on how large the goal is, you’ll need more time! And that’s okay!!
Remember: Quarterly Goals allow you to chip away in 90 day increments so give yourself flexibility throughout the process!
I don’t get goal-setting perfect every quarter, but when I prioritize this process I’m able to work smarter not harder on the big-picture goals I for my brand!
Are you setting Quarterly Goals in your biz? What does your goal-setting process look like?!
Struggling to make goals happen alongside your daily to-do’s? I can help! See how I do it with ONE simple Trello board!
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